Want to know everything there is to know about Nintendo's new home console, Wii U? What it can do and which games you'll be able to play on it when it launches later this year? We've got you covered with all the information there is right here in this handy guide.
As news regarding any new hardware launch is changing all the time, we'll be sure to update this page regularly as soon as we hear anything new, so make sure you keep checking back.
Wii U Console
Wii U is a brand new console from Nintendo. The concept behind Wii U is to provide a second viewpoint on gameplay, giving new perspectives and making new ideas possible. Nintendo is dubbing it "Asymmetrical Gaming", which basically means that instead of having four people playing against each other in a game with the same controller and same perspective, you could potentially have different player roles within the same session.
For example, two people could be using the Wii Remote to perform one task, while another uses the GamePad to access a whole different set of controls, commands and possibilities. Another usage for the GamePad could be assigning someone the position of dungeon master in an RPG, with the Wii Remote users being the hapless adventurers, trying to survive traps and monsters laid down by the dungeon master.
Nintendo has not revealed official specifications for the Wii U, but leaks online suggest the following:
- CPU: 'Espresso' CPU with three enhanced Broadway cores
- GPU: AMD Radeon "GPU7"
- Memory: 2GB (1GB as system memory, 1GB for game memory)
- Storage: 8GB/32GB (basic/deluxe)
- Expansion: SD Card Slot with support for 2GB SD cards and 32GB SDHC cards, hard drive expansion through USB.
- Networking: Wi-Fi
- Video output: Up to 1080p via HDMI, or Composite/Scart via the existing AV connector (SD)
- USB ports: 4, support for external storage (rumoured)
Wii U GamePad
The GamePad is bundled with the console but can also be purchased on its own. It features:
- A 6.2 inch resistive touch screen
- Two analogue thumbsticks that click as buttons when pressed in (think PS3 or 360 pads)
- A camera and microphone for video chat
- 3.5mm Headphone jack and volume control
- A Near-Field Communication square that allows Skylanders-style interaction: place special items such as cards and figures onto the square and they'll interact with the system
- The ability to function as an infra-red TV remote controller, even when the Wii U console is not switched on
- Motion control using gyrometers and accelerometers
- Force feedback rumble
- Internal rechargeable battery
It has been comfirmed that games will be able to support two GamePads at once, but it will result in a reduction in performance - just like when you're playing a split-screen title on any other console. Nintendo has also confirmed that two pads is the limit - you cannot connect four pads to the system.
Wii U Controller Pro
The optional Wii U Pro Controller is very similar to the existing Wii Classic Controller Pro, with a few differences. It's fully wireless and contains a rechargeable internal battery, the analogue sticks are clickable and it looks to have analogue triggers too.
Wii U will also use the full range of Wii controllers — Wii Remote, Nunchuk, Wii Balance Board and so on — but Nintendo will release a separate controller too.
In North America, the Wii U will hit store shelves on 18th November, 2012. The Basic set is $299.99 and the Deluxe retails for $349.99.
The European and Australian release date is 30th November, 2012. Prices in Europe will be determined by retailers, while the Australian prices are an SRP of AU $349.95 for the Basic bundle, and the Premium bundle will have an SRP of AU $429.95.
In Japan, the release date is 8th December, 2012 and it's been confirmed that the console will be released in the same two bundles: Standard and Premium. The Standard costs 26,250 Yen (around £209 / $337) and the Premium 31,500 Yen (£251 / $405)
- x1 White Wii U Console with 8GB of internal storage
- x1 White Wii U GamePad
- x1 White Wii U Stylus
- Sensor Bar
- High Speed HDMI Cable
- Wii U Console AC Adapter
- Wii U GamePad AC Adapater
- x1 Black Wii U Console with 32GB of internal storage
- x1 Black Wii U GamePad
- x1 Black Wii U Stylus
- Sensor Bar
- High Speed HDMI Cable
- Wii U Console AC Adapter
- Wii U GamePad AC Adapater
- Wii U GamePad Charging Stand
- Wii U GamePad Play Stand
- Wii U Console Upright Stand
- Nintendo Land (Game) (* Europe/Australia/North America only)
- Wii U ZombiU Premium Pack (Europe only) Includes the game and a black Wii U Pro Controller.
Interestingly, a Wii Remote isn't included in either bundle, and for games like Nintendo Land, you could need four of these to appreciate it fully.
As well as most Wii accessories being supported by the Wii U, there will also be a range of new items to purchase, some of which are included in the Premium hardware bundle. These include the GamePad charging dock, GamePad play stand and Wii U console vertical stand.
Future accessories will almost certainly include some kind of wireless keyboard. The one bundled with Pokémon Typing Adventure uses Bluetooth and is compatible with any device which accepts text input over that wireless protocol - and seeing as it features no DS branding on it whatsoever, there's a good chance it will be re-released alongside the Wii U as an alternative for typing using the GamePad itself.
Unlike Wii, which was limited to standard definition output, the Wii U is capable of full high definition images at 1080p - far sharper than the Wii's maximum resolution of 480p. This is achieved using the bundled HDMI cable.
What this means in real terms is a massive increase in detail and image clarity when playing on a HD screen. Visuals will look noticeably sharper and brighter than they did using the Wii's component or RGB SCART output.
The Wii U supports the following video modes: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i and 1080p. You will be able to use the console on a standard definition TV set, but you will need to purchase an additional cable in order to do so (or use your existing Wii AV cable).
Miiverse is Nintendo's grand vision for an all-encompassing social network which will cover the Wii U, 3DS and even mobile phones in the near future. Miiverse is the hub of the system, and displays your own collection of Miis as well as those belonging to people you've encountered during gameplay. Also, titles which are popular at the time will be shown in this area, allowing you to see what everyone else is currently playing worldwide.
Miiverse will allow you to communicate directly with other Wii U owners, with a personal 'timeline' where comments can be made, messaging areas to get game help from others, as well as video calls using the GamePad camera and microphone. Nintendo has suggested that some kind of moderation will be in place to ensure offensive comments don't slip through the net. It has been suggested that comments could take as much as 30 minutes to reach their intended destination due to moderation, but it is currently unknown if this limitation will be relaxed when speaking to people who have already confirmed you as a friend.
Nintendo Network is Nintendo's new online service, which is similar to the services offered by Microsoft and Sony on their Xbox 360 and PlayStation consoles.
It has been confirmed that the Wii U is account-based, allowing different people to sign into a single Wii U console and access content exclusive to them. One Wii U console will be able to support up to 12 different accounts.
For downloadable content, the Wii U will have its own eShop, and as is the case with first-party titles on the 3DS, users will be able to download full retail games on their respective launch dates.
Nintendo has also confirmed the Nintendo Network Premium account, which is included with the Premium bundle of the console. This appears to offer discounts on downloads, and lasts for a two-year term before it needs to be renewed.
United States and Canada only, Nintendo TVii is a (free) TV aggregation service that lets you browse content from multiple services, to which you're subscribed such as Netflix and Hulu, Live TV and your DVR/Tivo. You can also comment/chat with your friends whilst watching live TV, via Miiverse and Twitter/Facebook. The Wii U hardware doesn't have Tivo/DVR capabilities built in, so that functionality will only work in this service with separate hardware.
More details soon...
Wii U Games
Nintendo have announced a list of more than 50 launch window games, Nintendo defines the launch window as the period between initial launch and March 31, 2013.
The new 2D platform game introduces a giant world map full of distinctive courses to discover. The GamePad can be used to play solo when the TV is in use and can also be used to assist other players when playing co-operatively. An all-new test of players’ Super Mario skills appears in Boost Rush mode, where auto-scrolling courses scroll faster the more coins you pick up, while in Challenge Mode any course can offer completely different gameplay depending on the specific nature of the challenge at hand. From Time Attack to 1-Up challenges, even Mario veterans will need to bring their best game to beat the record!
Each of the 12 attractions in this theme park packed with famous Nintendo franchises is a standalone game with multiple levels and gameplay modes. New Metroid Blast footage showed both co-operative and versus multiplayer shooting action, with different roles assigned to players using the GamePad or Wii Remote and Nunchuk controllers. In The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest players can clear nine quests leading to new unlockable levels on their own or working together, using bow and arrows on the GamePad or sword and shield using a Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuk, while solo players can also enjoy the game’s Time Attack mode.
New footage from this exclusive survival horror first-person shooter revealed the Tower of London location, as well as the Survival Mode in which the player only has one life to survive. The new video also showed the Weapon Crafting feature that allows players to customise their equipment directly on the GamePad, the use of a spraycan to leave messages made up from symbols for other players, plus new online features in which online friends who are turned into zombies will then turn up in the player’s game. At launch, a limited edition Wii U Premium Pack will be made available: the ZombiU™ Premium Pack also includes the game and a black Wii U Pro Controller.
A video featuring series creator Michel Ancel highlighted how this new 2D platform game creates a unique gameplay dynamic due to the different roles enjoyed by players depending on which controller they are using. The capabilities of the GamePad allow for a very tactile interaction with the game world – pulling objects, turning parts of the level around, protecting the other players and many other unique examples that require ongoing communication between all players to succeed.
The most groundbreaking and visceral Call of Duty® experience ever. Set in the year 2025, Call of Duty: Black Ops II propels players into global conflict featuring advanced weaponry, robotics, and drone warfare in a new Cold War scenario whose seeds are being sown in today’s headlines. New graphics technology drives the stunning cinematic action of the single-player campaign’s branching storylines and non-linear missions.
The Mass Effect 3 Special Edition plunges players into a gripping, emotional and action-packed story. Players will choose how to wage an all-out galactic war for survival against an unstoppable enemy. As part of this cinematic journey, Mass Effect 3 features intense third-person shooter combat - with the Wii U GamePad providing a whole new level of tactical control over the battlefield. The Special Edition will also include an interactive backstory feature covering previous events in the Mass Effect universe, all leading up to the beginning of Mass Effect 3. Wii U players will also experience the From Ashes DLC Pack, and Extended Cut ending as a part of their story.
For a comprehensive list of launch window games view our Launch Window Round Up.
The Wii U will be capable of playing all Wii titles, although they will not be up-scaled to HD, and instead will run at the usual Wii resolution of 480p. Unlike the Wii, the Wii U will not be compatible with Nintendo GameCube titles.
There are rumours that Nintendo may offer GameCube games as digital downloads in the future, but so far the company has not confirmed these reports.
WiiWare and Virtual Console games previously purchased on the Wii will be transferable to the Wii U.
Release Date and Price
The Wii U will be released on the following dates:
North America - 18th November, 2012
The Basic set is $299.99 and the Deluxe retails for $349.99.
Europe - 30th November, 2012
No official RRP prices given, expect retails to price the bundles at around £250 for the Basic and £300 for the Deluxe.
Australia/New Zealand - 30th November, 2012
Basic pack at 349.95 AUD and the premium pack is 429.95 AUD. Both are the same as European packs.
Japan - 8th December, 2012
The Standard costs 26,250 Yen (around £209 / $337) and the Premium 31,500 Yen (£251 / $405)
So there you have it - everything you could possibly need to know about Nintendo's shiny new console. If you're still not satisfied and have more burning questions, drop us a line in the comments section below and we'll add to the guide.