Nintendo has finally launched its new console, Wii U, in America and we’ve scoured the internet to round-up all the first impressions of the hardware, eShop, software and the controller.
Nintendo has gone to great lengths to control the information flow about the console before it had been released. But now the console is on sale the floodgates have fully been opened with some interesting first impressions have come to light, on the hardware, online functionality and how the console stands up against the more established offerings from Sony and Microsoft.
Hardware & Controller
Plenty of publications have had some proper facetime with the console and on the whole they seem to be impressed with Nintendo’s first forway in the HD, but, rather worryingly, there seems to be plenty of day-one niggles and oddities.
1UP‘s hardware review is a mixed bag; they praise the console for its connectivity, as the console has both USB and SD card compatibility. But they weren’t too impressed with the audio capability. Declaring the lack of optical-out was a “glaring” omission for a modern day console and concluded: “It’s perfectly reasonable, I think, to expect better in a modern console,” their review stated.
It was a similar story for Penny Arcade, too, who weren’t to impressed with the apparent sluggishness of the system’s menus: “The problem is that the firmware is half-baked, and simple tasks are more complicated than necessary”. They also weren’t too impressed with the touch capabilities of the touch-screen gamepad: “The GamePad screen is resistive screen, not the capacitance touchscreen you’re used to in more expensive devices. There is also no multitouch, so things like pinch and spread controls to zoom in or out are unavailable.”
There were some more positive aspects of the console according to MTV Multiplayer who stated: “All signs point to a reality where Nintendo has learned from a lot of their mistakes with the Wii”. But they added a note of caution with regards to the Gamepad’s portability: “The range of the controller may be a slight point of frustration for anyone that thought they were going to be able to take their Wii U gaming with them wherever they are, as it’s only advertised to reach 24 feet – without interference.”
The gamepad’s poor battery life was mentioned by several reviewers, with Destructoid stating that the predicted 3-5 hours battery life was closer to 3 hours than 5 hours – and reckons you’re better off just keep it plugged in.
On a more positive note, Shack News made mention of the system’s “seamless integration of TV controls on the second screen”. The site also noted it was “worried” whether the Wii U will stand up, graphically, to next-generation hardware.
Setting up the Wii U
One of the biggest bug-bears for reviewers was the mandatory firmware update. Apparently it’s a hefty 5Gb and, due to day-one niggles, was taking a long time to download. One reviewer decided to try again later, and rather stupidly turned off his Wii U and bricked the console. Elsewhere early adopters have struggled to get their consoles online and have had to manually add the console to their wireless network.
After the firmware install, reports suggest a Wii U Premium’s available system memory will drop from 32GB to 25GB; the 8GB model has only 3GB of usable space.
Once the console it fully up-to-date users have access to backwards compatibility and can begin to transfer their Wii profiles. Apparently not everything can be copied across, though. Users report you bring across your Wii system settings, pre-installed WiiWare, Virtual Console games and Gamecube save files.
Users wanting to add friends on WiiU have found that there is two ways to do this: first, there’s Mii Universe, or you can use the home screen – many have noted there’s no need to have such a complicated system for something as simple as adding a few friends.
Software & eShop
We’ll try and round-up all the games tomorrow, but reports suggest that the eShop digital store has plenty of games and require a two-step download/install process, much the same as the PS3. For example Trine 2 apparently took one user a whopping 17 minutes to install – which isn’t exactly fast. Purchasing from the eShop seems a relatively painless affair; it saves your credit card details for use in future transactions.
First impression of Wii U’s launch software have been, on the whole positive, but quite a few ports of existing games don’t do much to really sell the console.
The Wii U is out now in the US, and will launch November 30 in the UK and Europe.