Review: Tom Bombadildo Reviews: The Wii U (Hardware)

Reviewed by Tom Bond, posted Jul 17, 2014
Jul 17, 2014
As most of you might know, I was able to get my hands on a Wii U console for quite cheap ($150) and as I was browsing around the Temp's Review center, I noticed there didn't appear to be a single Wii U review out there. we go, a review of the Wii U from someone who doesn't think Nintendo is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Tom Bond
Design and Hardware
PLEASE note that I WILL NOT factor in the hardware performance with this review, only the quality of the hardware will be considered.
The physical design of the console is what you would expect from the successor to the Wii; a slim glossy console offered in white and black (in my case, black in color), with a very “minimalist” feel.
It has 2 USB ports on the back and 2 in the front hidden by a small door, which also houses the SD Card slot. The front of the console also features a slot-loading disc drive. In the back, you see the obvious HDMI input, composite input, power input, and sensor bar input.
Hardware wise, I have only 2 major complaints: The first, the console only comes with 8GB or 32GB flash storage. While this may seem like a lot to those who only use physical releases, for someone who's more inclined to buy digital titles this is quite a downfall. Granted, you can always attach an external hard drive to your Wii U, this feels like a poor solution to the problem as it becomes unusable with other PCs. My second complaint is the lack of an Ethernet port, if you wish to have a stable and quick wired connection you're forced to buy a $10-$15 adapter. Not necessarily a deal breaker, but as the Wii U has troubles connecting to my router from across my house it's quite a set back.

Score: 8/10

The Wii U features a tablet-controller, the Wii U gamepad, which is a step in a different direction from other contemporary controller designs. The gamepad features a ~6in resistive touchscreen in the center of the controller, standard buttons (ABXY, ZR/ZL, Home, start/select), and, unfortunately, digital triggers.
The gamepad connects wirelessly to the Wii U via a special low-latency wireless protocol which is wonderful for response times, but unfortunately has a large drawback: signal strength. My own Wii U gamepad started randomly disconnected after about 10 feet and lost connection completely around 15ft.

Upon first use the controller feels bulky, awkward, and poorly utilized. The location of the thumbsticks is unconventional and takes priority over the face buttons and the triggers are digital which allow no pressure sensitivity. After prolonged use, the awkward feeling goes away but the controller still feels much bulkier to use compared to the DS4/Xbone controllers (for reference, the Wii U gamepad weighs in at ~500 grams or ~1lb compared to the DS4/Xbone controllers which weigh in around ~200 grams/~250 grams respectively). Understandable, of course, but not very welcome during long gaming sessions. The screen itself is quite lackluster; the resolution is 854x480, the touchscreen uses an outdated resistive screen, and unfortunately can be easily damaged. The biggest downside of all these bells and whistles, however, is the battery life of the gamepad. It's absolutely abysmal, lasting approximately 3-4 hours at most during normal use.

Score: 5/10


Before I begin this section, I'd like to point out that I WILL NOT be factoring in the lack of game software in with this score, only the quality of the software available will be considered in this review.

I'd like to start off with the Wii U menu. When I first received my Wii U, it was luckily already updated to the latest software meaning I didn't have to put up with incredibly sluggish system load times. Despite this, I found navigating the various system menus to still be somewhat slow. Luckily, Nintendo added the “Quick Start Menu” which shows on boot which allows you to quickly open the game or app you wish to use, completely side-stepping the slow Wii U menu.

The Wii U comes with various software features, including an internet browser, Miiverse, Notifications, Tvii, and the eShop as well as pre-installed software such as Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu Plus, and Youtube, all of which work well enough, however it should be noted that as I bought the Wii U to play games and not to socialize, I've only ever used the eShop, Youtube, and the Internet browser so I have no real information regarding everything else.

In this part of the review, I will start looking at games available with the system. My current game list includes Wind Waker HD, which came with the system, Mario Kart 8, and New Super Mario Bros U, and no third party titles so I can only attest to first party quality games. The 3 I own play as you would expect; controls are designed with the Gamepad in mind, there are no major game-breaking bugs or glitches, and they look good for the Wii U. Off-screen play with Wind Waker and Mario Kart works well, allowing me play time as I lay in bed, however the gamepad featured little to no special features in each of these games (for Wind Waker this included a menu, for Mario Kart you had the options of a course map, tilt controls, or off-screen play) and the lack of an HD screen turned me away from one of the Wii U's more notable upgrades.

Score: 6/10
+ Nice successor to the Wii
+ Has plenty of features the Wii lacked
+ Games play well
+ Design-wise looks great
+ Off-Screen Play
- Wii U gamepad as a whole
- Lack of Ethernet ports
- Lack of substantial storage space
- Poor OS load times
- Lack of Gamepad utilization by games
out of 10
Overall I feel like the Wii U is a nice console for Nintendo fans and it's a nice successor to the Wii, however Nintendo still lacks a basic understanding of the needs of all gamers and instead chooses to focus on their ever-shrinking die-hard fanbase.

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