Nintendo never did get around to releasing Wii U GamePads which could be purchased separately, but that might not matter all that much now that progress has been made on a homebrew app which allows a smartphone to replicate the performance of the much-maligned controller.

Created by Rolando Islas, this drc-sim mobile client is a long way from being the finished article - there's currently no audio, only a handful of virtual controls are available on the touchscreen and the app has to connect to the console via a computer - but it's an exciting glimpse of what's possible.

The version shown above is running on an Android phone, but Islas says that in principle there would be no problem in getting it to run on an iPhone or iPad - the issue would be that Apple is unlikely to allow such an download to exist on the App Store, so it would need to be side-loaded onto a jailbroken device.

This development means that despite its unusual interface setup, the Wii U could potentially be emulated in the future, with a phone or tablet taking the place of the GamePad itself. The lack of physical buttons will obviously be a headache, but many Android devices are available which offer a more traditional interface - the GPD XD, for example - and these would solve this issue.

This line of thought might seem premature when there are plenty of unsold Wii Us available at the moment and therefore no shortage of GamePads, but in the next 10 or 20 years such functionality may well come in useful for those who wish to sample the software of Nintendo's most divisive home systems but can't get hold of the original hardware.