Nintendo Wii U hardware hands-on preview
The Nintendo Wii U goes on sale later this year as the first of the next-gen consoles to appear in stores. Nintendo has yet to say exactly when we’ll be able to buy the Wii successor, but until then we’ve been able to get a first-hands on with the console. Read on for our first hands-on impressions.
Introducing the Wii U
Like the Wii before it in 2006, the Wii U is another attempt from Nintendo to introduce new gameplay experiences. The Wii’s biggest successes came in attracting a new breed of gamer to console gaming – those who’ve never played games before, known now as casual gamers.
With the Wii U, Nintendo is hoping to appeal to both ends of the market, while staying true to its philosophy of making gaming accessible to all. The Wii U is a console for both casual and core gamers. The latter being those who’ve played games all their life.
A Wii U GamePad controller takes the form of a touchscreen tablet with physical controls and buttons, and a 6.2-inch LC screen in the middle. More traditionally-minded players will be able to play solely with a Wii U Pro controller, which looks like a traditional controller. Some have said it looks like an Xbox 360 controller.
On first sight of Nintendo’s new console, the initial thought is how much smaller it looks in real life. Measuring 1.5-inches deep, and 6.8-inches long and just 1.8-inches high, the Wii U will easily fit under on the shelf of most entertainment set-ups. It’s far less bulkier than an Xbox 360 and PS3.
The biggest surprise is the GamePad controller. It is both lighter, and smaller than appears in pictures, and actually fits rather comfortably in the hand, with each of its buttons within easy each. The analogue pads, triggers on the back, and action buttons were all easy to use.
The screen on the GamePad is a delight. When playing Super Mario Bros U the player has a choice to look at the TV or to play using the Wii U GamePad, where the action looked gorgeous, appeared just as smooth as it did mirroring the action on the TV. Nintendo says the GamePad will be able to stream most games to the controller. On early evidence we found playing this way loses nothing in gameplay. It’s like playing on a dedicated handheld.
Some of the games we played involved tilting the GamePad and hoisting it high to aim arrows in Nintendoland, steering vehicles, solving puzzles, and in ZombiU, searching for missing keys. The deceptive lightness of the GamePad means it’s unlikely you’ll ever tire yourself playing some of the Wii U’s early games.
It’s early days, but Nintendo’s insistence on making players use the GamePad is only going to pay of if the device adds anything to gameplay. An early taste shows that Nintendo has really thought about how to use the GamePad to show off what it can do, most impressing in ZombiU and in Nintendoland. Moving the GamePad and tilting it soon becomes instinctive thanks to our past experiences of being weaned on motion sensing gaming over the past few years.
Nintendo wants to make us excited about this style of gaming all over again, and the signs are that it can do. The Wii Sports crowd are likely to fall in love with Nintendoland on Wii U, while ZombiU does at least show signs that Nintendo Wii U can appeal to those looking for something a little more adult from their gaming. One third party title that wowed was Rayman Legends. On Wii U it looked stunning, laying to rest concerns over the Wii U’s graphical capabilities, at least for the time being. Played with the more traditional Wii U pro Controller without having to use the GamePad tablet controller.
Concerns over its accuracy can be laid to rest. The GamePad works like a charm. Not once did we notice any lag whatsoever, or need to reconfigure the pad whilst playing. We came away more excited about the potential of what the Wii U will do in future, more than what it is doing right now.
The biggest test for the Wii U will come post-launch. If the Wii U is to succeed, it will need a decent price, and one heck of a launch line up. The likes of Nintendoland should convince the Wii Sports lovers to pick it up, while games such as ZombiU, Rayman Legends and Super Mario Bros U, and confirmed releases such as Assassin’s Creed 3 (and the rumoured Call of Duty: Black Ops 2) proves that the Wii U will cater to the core gamers that felt left out last time round.
At this moment in time, there’s every reason to look forward to the Nintendo Wii U.