Nintendo Wii U In-Depth Review: Why You Should Have One... or Not
The Wii U has arrived, at least to North America! It actually boggles my mind that the Japanese have to wait for it till Dec. 8 and Europe / Australia until Nov. 30, but oh well, I'm not complaining. We have it, and even despite a few shortcomings, we're delighted, so we wanted to share our thoughts with you.
Hopefully this Wii U review will help you make up your mind about why you may or may not want to pick up a Wii U to support your gaming habits.
The Look & Feel of the Wii U
First of all, the impression the Nintendo Wii U gives you upon taking it out of the box is very positive. As a video game system, it seems like a solid piece of equipment, and it has a nice and rounded finish that will easily fit in with anyone's current entertainment setup. The original Wii design was more daring, and I loved it, but the Wii U is more adaptable. If anything, the console is a tad long, but not more so than the width of a slim Xbox 360 or PS3, which in my case are sitting next to it. The Wii U console is bigger than the Wii, but that's because it packs a punch!
On the outside, it has four USB port, an SD memory card reader, the slot-loading optical drive, and all the proper ports to make it work, everything nicely accessible.
Along with it, you'll have to install the Wii U sensor bar, which is much like the one for Wii. No big deal here, as it's a slim piece of hardware that fits pretty much anywhere, whether it's on top or below your TV set.
In any case, the actual centerpiece is the Wii U GamePad. It's what defines Nintendo's new console, and it was done right. It wouldn't make sense to make this handheld device look like an iPad because they don't serve the same purpose. The Wii U GamePad has an ergonomic design so it fits comfortably in between the palms of your hands while you play a game. It has accessible buttons and analog sticks so you can game with it, and a touch screen so you can make selections within console menus or games, follow maps, watch certain aspects of the gameplay, use it instead of a TV screen, and many other things we haven't even seen yet.
I purchased a silicon skin to cover it, as the GamePad's finish is very sleek, which is pleasing to the eyes only as long as there are no fingerprint smudges all over it, which is nearly impossible if you have a black GamePad. Protecting it with a skin was a good move, because the GamePad doesn't have a built-in grip, and the rubbery texture offers a solid feeling in your hands. Other than that, holding the GamePad feels great, and the distribution of the buttons and dual analog sticks is perfect, whether your hands are big or small. Also, it's nice to be able to charge it on a cradle when not in use, like the 3DS. That way you don't end up with low battery because you forgot to charge it. The battery might need to be replaced eventually, but it beats swapping and recycling batteries all the time. Oh, and the GamePad also has a headphone port, built-in speakers, a microphone, and a camera.
Wii U Graphics
One of the features that sets the Wii U apart from the original Wii is its high-def graphics. The Wii U offers up to 1080p resolution (full HD) and frame rates as high as the other gaming consoles on the market, which is something unseen in a Nintendo system and actually quite shocking. When you see New Super Mario Bros. U, you'll realize how far they've come. Not only do the characters look sharper and the animations smooth as can be, but the level of detail achieved in the game is outstanding. I've also experienced more realistic titles such as Mass Effect 3 - Special Edition and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge on Wii U, and the quality of the visuals is just what you'd expect, right on par with PS3 and Xbox 360. Finally!
In addition to the visuals on the TV screen, you'll constantly interact with the GamePad display when using the Wii U. The screen is smaller and has lower resolution, but this is not a huge problem when considering what you can do with it. Many games allow you to play them on the GamePad without using the TV screen. This is a blessing when you're sharing the big living room TV and another member of the family wants to do something else. You can just grab the GamePad and play Wii U, watch a Hulu / Netflix show, or play around with the Wii U's settings and visit Miiverse for some social interaction. It's easy to overlook the lower resolution when you have such an advantage.
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An enthusiast of gaming adventures as well as party and puzzle games. Writer, editor, translator, graphics designer, and a multitasker at heart. Maria has worked in the gaming industry since 2007, though she's been a gamer since the eighties. She proudly wore her Spain jersey when they won the 2010 World Cup!
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