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Nintendo Wii U launch day lowdown: Everything you need to know!

The Gadget Show  Monday 26 November 2012

Nintendo Wii U launch day lowdown: Everything you need to know!

The Nintendo Wii U is almost here. After more than a year of teasing, glimpsing and ‘what does it actually do’-ing, Nintendo’s next-generation console is finally set to land in UK homes. The UK launch date is locked in for 30 November – this Friday.

It’s a machine of many hidden talents, but which ones should have you most excited? And what are the problems facing Ninty’s newest console? Worry not: here’s the full lowdown on the Wii U…

How is this different from the Wii?

Where do we start? The Nintendo Wii U takes the basic principle of the Wii – motion control gameplay – and slaps an orchestra’s worth of bells on. As well as HD graphics that (finally) rival the Xbox 360 and PS3, the Wii U’s controller now also sports a full complement of standard gaming controls, and a huge 6.2-inch touchscreen slapped in the middle.

That gives the Nintendo Wii U’s GamePad a bit of a tablet PC look and feel, but it’s still perfectly weighted to hold as a normal controller when sat for hours playing Call of Duty (thankfully, with the aid of two joysticks and trigger buttons). The combination of touchscreen, motion control and proper, core gaming buttons is what’s had developers all excited since its early announcement in 2011.

Check out our hands on video with the Nintendo Wii U below

How’s the launch game lineup looking?

Compared to the awful launch title lineups for both the Xbox 360 and PS3, the Nintendo Wii U will offer something of a gaming smorgasbord from day one. Headline games include Assassin’s Creed 3, Batman: Arkham City, FIFA 13, Mass Effect 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Each of those will boast some new Wii U GamePad jiggery pokery, but for real innovation there’s a host of bespoke titles too.

The most promising of these is probably ZombiU, a first person survival horror game with a twist: get caught by the marauding horde? You become one of them, and next time you play you’ll be attacked by your last avatar. Bonus points because it’s set in Blighty.

Of course, a Nintendo console wouldn’t be a Nintendo console without a Mario game, and here we have New Super Mario Bros U – another unique burst of day-glo side-scrolling platforming given a Wii U twist.

What tricks does it do?

You know that second screen? That’s the Wii U’s trump card. What you’ll use it for depends entirely on the imagination of the game developers, but examples already include displaying maps, changing tactics on the fly, shooting weapons from it, cracking codes and getting one up on any of your multiplayer mates who’re stuck using original Wiimotes.

But as well as all that, the Wii U’s GamePad screen has another amazing, argument-preventing use: if you want to play games while your flatmates or family watch Eastenders, the Wii U will beam selected games right onto the tablet. As long as you’re in range, you can play right on the tablet itself – don’t worry, the bathroom should just about be fine.

Video on demand

By now, you should be getting to grips with the idea that the screen on the Wii U’s GamePad is a right little box of tricks. That also extends also to apps, which can be downloaded as ‘Wii U Channels’. You’ve got your usual social networking bobbins in here, along with a web browser (that lets you surf on the tablet, the big screen or both), and video streamers like Netflix.

Loads more apps will join the fore over time, but the idea – with video apps especially – is that you can browse on the GamePad’s screen and then fire your chosen content off to the the TV.

What’s this about an update?

It’s frustrating to have to wait when you first unwrap a new toy, but we’re afraid that’s exactly what you’re going to have to do: the Nintendo Wii U needs a pretty meaty firmware update before it’ll kick into play. And when we say meaty, we mean around 5GB. Depending on your internet speed, this could mean several hours of downloading before you catch even the slightest glimpse of the dungareed plumber.

A word of warning, though: reports from the US suggest that turning the Wii U off before this update has finished doing its thing will end your new console’s life before it’s even begun.

The nitty-gritty

The Nintendo Wii U comes in two flavours, with 8GB or 32GB of inbuilt storage. The former will set you back £259.99, while the latter, known as the Wii U Premium, goes for £309.99 – although for that you’ll get an HDMI cable, a subscription to Nintendo Premium and a copy of multiplayer box o’ treats NintendoLand.

Thinking of picking up a Nintendo Wii U on Friday? Let us know below…


Nintendo, Wii U, gaming, Feature

User comments (3)

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Cliff Bond

Have pre ordered the WiiU for my 11 year old Son, was told that if I didn't pre order it, you won't get it at all for a while, so be warned folks if you want it for Crimbo! Do agree that it looks an amazing console and know it will get lots of use!

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The update is around 1GB.

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That "UK Rep" for Nintendo sounded like he didn't really know what was going on... Learn your lines before going in front of the cameras!

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