Now that Wii U has arrived in both Europe and North America, a number of the Nintendo Life team have got their hands on the system and have been happily playing various launch titles. We've already produced a number of Wii U reviews — with more on the way — and provided a formal hardware review, but decided that it'd be worth giving some personal impressions of the system so far. The success or otherwise of Wii U will come down to a number of factors including the usage of the GamePad and its social platform, Miiverse, and there are plenty of opinions on these within the team.

With quite a few staff members joining in we'll split this into two parts; be sure to check back tomorrow for more of our individual opinions on the system.

Mike Mason

If you'd have told me six months ago that the best thing about a new Nintendo console would be a Twitter / message board hybrid, I'd have called you mad. As it turns out, though, Miiverse has very rapidly “Yeah”ed its way up to become my favourite function of Wii U.

I'm not a hugely social gamer when it comes to online, but Miiverse is such a generally pleasant place that I find myself wanting to use it as much as possible, which is something that I can't say for any other online gaming service. It's great to pick up the GamePad, check Miiverse and then set it down again, all without switching on my television.

Everybody is friendly, it's easy to hop right into a discussion and it's lovely to see users helping each other rather than cussing the world and its mother out. The other day I popped into the Trine 2 community only to end up chatting about old point and click adventure games before making friends with total strangers through this shared interest. You wouldn't get this on any of the other consoles.

On the other hand, the other consoles do offer faster operating systems. My primary problem with Wii U right now is the speed of entering and exiting software; it's not slow enough to ruin the experience, but I really hope it's made a bit nippier in the future. The second big firmware update seems to have smoothed things out very slightly, though there's still plenty of room for improvement.

I'm really impressed with Wii U as a whole. From the first time I picked up my very own GamePad, it just felt right. It's fantastic to see a high definition Nintendo console with a proper online infrastructure, and the way the second screen is integrated is completely different to anything else out there yet totally natural at the same time. I'm hosting my first Wii U party this weekend; I sense some very good Nintendo Land-fuelled times in my immediate future.

Ron DelVillano

Before its official launch, I had a pretty strained relationship with Wii U. I was underwhelmed by the tech demos and gameplay videos, and I wasn’t convinced that this was the next step that Nintendo, or the video games industry as a whole, was looking to take. It wasn’t until I actually got a demo unit in my hands that I realized how much I wanted to own a Wii U of my own, and it wasn’t until I finally turned my console on that I knew I was in love.

I’m a true believer in television. I think it’s one of the most under-appreciated storytelling mediums, and I think that more time should be spent watching TV shows in a critical capacity. That being said, I was really looking forward to Nintendo TVii. You can imagine my disappointment when it was revealed that the service would be delayed until later this year. Regardless, I was still excited to play Nintendo games in stunning HD.

Every time I turn my Wii U on and load up a game, I’m always taken aback at how crisp and clear everything looks, and it brings me an overwhelming sense of joy seeing Mario looking his absolute best. I’m still anticipating Nintendo TVii, and I’m hoping for a bit more social media integration as well, but for now, everything else that Wii U has to offer is enough for me. And besides, Netflix works, so my cravings for too much television are satisfied. For now.

Andy Green

I have to say I love what I’ve seen from Wii U so far. Surprisingly, what has impressed me the most about the new system has been the Miiverse - it’s an absolute joy. When it first got announced I have to admit I just shrugged it off as a gimmick, but it is far from that. I have spent such a long time delving into it, and I’ve become obsessed with just drawing random Nintendo themed pictures! I’ll finish a game on Nintendo Land and feel compelled to write or draw about it on Miiverse – it’s getting addictive now! It isn’t perfect as it appears that everything you say or doodle must be placed in a community and there isn’t somewhere for me to just draw a picture of a Pokémon and say “yep, there’s a picture of Charmander”. It’d be nice if Nintendo added an ‘off-topic’ area or something where I can just doodle to my heart’s content – and believe me, I would!

Above everything else, the thing that excites me the most about Wii U is the possibilities. Simply playing through the attractions on Nintendo Land makes you see just how magical the GamePad really is, and makes you think of ways it can implement new controls in future games. The prospect of a Wii U Zelda, Metroid, Pikmin, Donkey Kong and, dare I say, Star Fox on Wii U is absolutely tantalising! The possibilities just appear endless to me.

The only thing I would say that’s disappointed me is the way in which the applications crash, YouTube especially. It’s a shame as it is actually a fantastic application. Hopefully Nintendo can release an update soon, if it hasn’t already. Overall, the Wii U is a great piece of kit, it’s early days but I’m very impressed so far!

Orla Madden

It's barely been a week, and all I can say is it's incredible. I'm most impressed with Miiverse, it has connected me to so many Nintendo fans worldwide, including the Nintendo Life staff. I've spent most of my time with Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition, so if you think you can challenge me, hit me up!

An area I find most annoying is the loading time of apps, it's a bit slow and sluggish, but it doesn't put me off completely.

I look forward to the Wii U's future, as I have no doubt it'll be a great one! Well done Nintendo!

Morgan Sleeper

My little white Wii U has been sharing shelf space with its console forebears for almost two weeks now, and it's amazing how quickly it's become the living room's main attraction. The asymmetrical multiplayer and cooperative attractions of Nintendo Land are a big reason for that - everyone wants to play as soon as we get home, and the same-couch co-op experience on Wii U really is unparalleled. I've never gotten so much laughter out of a console! But the big surprise for me has been Miiverse, possibly the Wii U's coolest feature. It makes playing alone feel social and connected, and I absolutely love the friendly, positive, and ridiculously artistically-gifted Miiverse community.

I've also been amazed at just how comfortable the GamePad is. It looks unwieldy, but after using it over the last few weeks, it might be my favourite controller since the Dreamcast pad. And as fun as the VMU was, the GamePad's screen feels like a sea change in console gaming. It was a revelation the first time I took my GamePad into my room to grab my wallet to pay for an eShop game, and then realized I could sit on my bed and buy, download, and play right from there. Being able to run through "a few" levels of New Super Mario Bros. U or Chasing Aurora in bed might be terrible for my sleep schedule, but it is genuinely exciting - the kind of thing I would've dreamed of as a kid.

The only disappointment I've had so far is with the walled-off Wii Menu. It works, but I was hoping for backwards compatibility similar to the 3DS, where DSiWare coexists transparently with eShop and retail titles on the home screen. And I'm gutted that I can't play VC games on the GamePad (yet?) - the revolution will well and truly come when I can play Magical Drop III comfortably in bed! In the meantime though, I couldn't be happier with the Wii U. It's a beautifully designed and thoroughly charming console in every aspect, from the soothing menu music to those lovely rounded disc edges, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here!

Check back at the same time tomorrow for more opinions from Nintendo Life staff. In the meantime, let us know what you think in the comments, below.