Thursday, November 15, 2012 , Updated 12:00 a.m., November 18, 2012
Everything you want to know about the Wii U launch
Will it be the hot holiday item? Hard to say, but pre-orders went fast.
We got our Wii U Deluxe Set from Nintendo last week, and have been spending a lot of time with it and its games. We can’t talk about everything quite yet, but we can give you plenty of impressions and answer your questions before it hits store shelves next week.
Curious about something in particular? Let us know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter. I’ll do my best to answer what I can, though I can’t answer everything until Nintendo throws the switch to turn the system’s online functionality on, and even then I have to wait until embargoes lift on some stuff.
In the meantime, you can check out early impressions, an FAQ, and more after the jump. This post will be updated as I can talk about more and as more questions are asked/answered.
Wii U launch game reviews and Impressions
Here’s what we’ve been playing so far:
Wii U - New Super Mario Bros. U Trailer
New Super Mario Bros. U: Hey, guess what? This is more Super Mario Bros.! If it feels like you just played one of those, it’s because New Super Mario Bros. 2 for the 3DS came out earlier this year. Kind of unfortunate. Still, I’m anxious to play more of it. For one thing, I’m finding myself more challenged, while NSMB2 was pretty easy.
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge: Ninja Gaiden 3 is easily the worst of the three modern Ninja Gaiden games. Razor’s Edge is, miraculously, a whole lot better. Tecmo fixed a lot of problems the first game had, which is impressive. That said, it’s still not the best action game available on the market, by any stretch. There are significant gameplay flaws that couldn’t be fixed no matter how hard the Razor’s Edge team tried. If you’re going to play Ninja Gaiden 3, this is absolutely the way to do it. But don’t feel compelled to play Ninja Gaiden 3.
Nintendo Land: The easiest way to talk about Nintendo Land is to say it’s the Wii U equivalent of Wii Sports. It’s the thing that’s going to shove the GamePad in your face and say, “This is how this works and why you should love it!” It’s a collection of Nintendo-themed mini-games that make use of the GamePad in unique ways, often pitting the GamePad player against four opponents who have standard Wii Remotes. Definitely play it with friends.
Sing Party: This is a game in which you sing. That is all.
Just Dance 4: This is a game in which you dance. That is all.
Zombi U: I’m not sure I can talk about this one yet, and I’ve barely touched it regardless. But I’ve really liked it at events like E3, so hopefully the full product lives up to its potential.
Frequently asked questions
What is the Wii U?
The Wii U is Nintendo’s successor to the Wii. It is an entirely new console. It is not simply a new tablet controller for the Wii, as some news outlets have mistakenly called it in the past (looking at you, CNN). It will be released on November 18.
The touch-screen controller is the biggest draw, though. The bump in power is great (the Wii U is, reportedly, slightly more powerful than an Xbox 360, meaning Nintendo has finally caught up to the rest of 2006), but it’s the controller that’s really going to make or break the system.
The controller is a tablet? Can I take it with me wherever I go, check email etc. like an iPad?
No, you cannot take it with you. Though wireless, the Wii U GamePad is not a portable device, and it has no real internal power on its own. Everything on its screen is streamed directly from the Wii U console, meaning you have to be nearby in order for it to work.
As for doing everything an iPad does … yes and no. It can be used for the likes of Netflix, Amazon Video, and surfing the Internet, but it’s not supposed to be anything like a computer replacement.
So I can’t take the controller to the coffee shop, but can I at least use it throughout my house?
Maybe. A big maybe. The GamePad is intended for use a few feet away from the system, which works perfectly. The further away you get, and the more interference you add (things like walls, etc.), the worse the signal will get.
Personally, only one wall separates my bedroom from my living room, where my Wii U is. So I’m able to play New Super Mario Bros. U on the GamePad while lying in bed with no trouble at all (and I’ve gotta say, that’s pretty awesome). Your mileage may vary.
Should I buy a Wii U? Do you have a review?
Hardware reviews are embargoed until 11:01 p.m. Central Time on Saturday, November 17. This is a mere hour before the system goes on sale at midnight, so it may be a little late to get in line at that point. But it may not matter. Reports indicate that pre-orders are sold out everywhere.
How much will the Wii U cost me?
The base Wii U model comes in white, has a 4GB hard drive and will run you $299.99. The “Deluxe” Wii U model is black, comes with a 32GB hard drive, a copy of Nintendo Land and some other bonuses and will cost $349.99.
Will I have to buy anything else to make it work?
Probably not, especially if you already have a Wii. The Wii U only comes with an HDMI cable for video (which is actually great, as it’ll give you the best video quality), which older TVs may not have. But the component and composite video cables for the old Wii work with the Wii U, so you can use those if you have them.
To play with more than one person, you will also need at least one Wii Remote Plus (or an older Wii Remote with a Wii Motion Plus add-on). These are the only kinds of Wii Remotes Nintendo makes now, so if you’ve bought any recently, you should be good. You’ll probably want at least a Nunchuck or two as well, though. It all depends on how many people you plan on using the system at once.
Wii U - Nintendo Land Launch TV Commercial
What about my old Wii accessories and games? Do they work on the Wii U?
Yes. All your old Wii stuff, from the remotes to the Wii Fit Balance Board to the games, all work on the Wii U.
There’s potentially one hiccup that I’m still looking into, though: The Wii U Nintendo sent me last week tells me that I have to wait for a system update in order to play my old Wii games. That’s functionality that should be available by the time you can buy a Wii U on store shelves, but it does look like it means you’ll have to connect to the Internet, wirelessly, at least once in order to play Wii games on the Wii U. I’m checking with Nintendo to see if this is definitely the case.
Can I transfer save data and downloaded games from my old Wii to the Wii U?
Yes. You can even do a full system transfer, though it will require both systems to be hooked up at once and connected to the same wireless network.
What games are coming out with the system?
I’m glad you asked! Here’s a list of what’s available on day one, November 18.
Nintendo’s “Launch Window” extends much further than that — some would argue too far, especially since some of the game’s I’m most looking forward to on the system aren’t available this month. Oh well. At least they’re coming.
Can I try it somewhere before I buy it?
Yep. You can check Nintendo’s website for a retail kiosk locator, with plenty of stores in the Dallas area popping up (mostly GameStops, with a few Targets and Best Buys).
You can also head to Stonebriar Centre between November 19 and December 16 for the The Nintendo 2012 “Holiday Mall Experience,” which will have a ton of Wii U and 3DS games on display to try out.
Will the Wii U be a hot holiday item? Will I have trouble getting one for Christmas?
It’s really hard to say for certain. Pre-orders for the system went fast, but it’s hard to say whether that’s an artificial supply issue (a common trick that creates an illusion of high demand), a genuine launch-day supply issue (which probably means more units will steadily land on shelves between now and Christmas) or if this really is 2012′s “Tickle Me Elmo,” as it were.
But with headlines saying that the unit is selling “incredibly quickly,” you might want to jump on one if you want it badly enough. If you can wait until after Christmas, it will probably get a lot easier.
8GB? 32GB? How much space do I really need? Is it enough?
If you plan to buy all of your Wii U games at retail, on discs, and never download any games from the eShop, than 8GB is probably enough.
If you plan on buying most “big” games, like Nintendo Land, on disc, but occasionally download smaller eShop games, 32GB will probably be OK, at least for now.
If you plan to go all digital, you will be out of space very quickly.
Thankfully, the Wii U’s memory is easily expandable with SD cards and external USB hard drives up to 2TB.