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What is the Wii U?

The Wii U is Nintendo’s successor to the wildly popular Wii and a completely new console that was released on November 18th, 2012.  The console’s main feature is an iPad-like device, called a GamePad, that the player can use as a controller (and touchscreen) while it also provides a primary view of the game or a “second screen” in some cases.  The Wii U also supports the same Wiimotes you used for your Wii and the sensor bar that you place near your TV.  The GamePad is wireless but must be kept within a certain range to play and kept charged (using its base station). Generally, the range is very far, but walls will interrupt the signal.

The Wii U GamePad is seen here being used as a "second" screen. While playing New Super Mario Bros. U the player using the pad can place blocks for the other players, using Wiimotes, to jump on to accomplish certain challenges.

The Wii U GamePad is seen here being used as a “second screen.” While playing New Super Mario Bros. U, the player using the pad can place blocks for the other players, using Wiimotes (not seen), to jump on in order to accomplish certain challenges.

Other big differences from the Wii include support for HD video (up to 1080p), improved online support (say goodbye to those friend codes!), the ability to play games without a TV (many games mirror onto the GamePad) and games that can only be played because the GamePad offers a different view than what your TV is showing at a given time. A great example of this is the Mario Chase game in Nintendoland where, using the GamePad as Mario, you can run and find a hiding space while the other players, using Wiimotes as Toad characters, try to hunt you down while looking at the TV.  It’s great fun and it’s not possible to play on any other system because of the unique hardware of the Wii U.

The Wii U can play all the games from the Wii (which are less common to find in retail shops these days) as well as a whole new generation of games specifically made for the new system (packaged in blue boxes with the Wii U logo at the top).  To play the Wii games, you simply load up the Wii Menu from the Wii U main menu and you’ll be looking at a Virtual Wii where you can pick the game you want to play.  To play Wii U games, just run the games directly from the Wii U main menu itself.  All of this can be done using a Gamepad or Wiimote and is very intuitive.

The Wii U main menu displays all of the apps and games you've downloaded as well as any game disc currently inserted into the console. Using it is as easy as using an iPad.

The Wii U main menu displays all of the apps and games you’ve downloaded as well as any game disc currently inserted into the console. Using it is as easy as using an iPad.

The game library for the Wii U is large and includes both physical discs as well as titles available only via download.  The disc titles are the big-budget titles you normally expect from a home console including Nintendo’s exclusive franchises like Super Mario Bros., Smash Bros., Zelda, Mario Kart, and a lot more.  The downloadable games are smaller-budget titles more akin to what you see on smartphones these days, however they are usually still very well made and designed for a console and larger screens.  Optionally, you can opt to buy the big-budget titles and download them on to the system if you don’t like using discs.  This can be handy since you don’t have to swap out discs to play a different game, but you’ll need to add your own storage to the Wii U as these games take up a lot of space.  I’d recommend you buy the discs so have the option of selling or trading these games in the future.  When you purchase a game by downloading it, they can never be sold or transferred.

If you’re buying a Wii U for the first time, or looking for ideas for great games to add to a collection, here are the Top 10 Best Games currently available for Wii U…in my humble opinion:

  1. Mario Kart 8
  2. Bayonetta 2 (for mature gamers)
  3. Nintendoland
  4. Super Mario 3D World
  5. Super Smash Bros. Wii U
  6. Rayman Legends
  7. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
  8. Hyrule Warriors
  9. Pikmin 3
  10. ZombiU (for mature gamers)

As you can see, like other Nintendo consoles, the games are generally very family-friendly, but there are some games intended only for mature audiences so be sure you check the games’ ratings if that’s a concern.

The Wii U also supports apps that are always free via the Wii Shop. (Available in the Wii U main menu.)  Services such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and more are available and many of them are really easy to use because of the GamePad!

One of the best advantages of the system is that you can play games without the TV being on.  This comes in super handy when you, or other family members, want to watch something on television while you get to play some Runner 2 or maybe Super Mario 3D World.  Almost all of the games support this, though a small number of them (ZombiU and Nintendoland for example) need both screens to play.  Wii Fit U is perfect for this as you can perform your workout routines (with the GamePad next to you) while watching a movie or show.  If you’re watching baseball, play some Mario Kart 8 between innings while the commercials are on!  It’s almost exactly like playing a game on your iPad, but the games are so much bigger and better!

The Wii U is a fantastic game system that is the cheapest of the three major competitors (Wii U, XBox One, Playstation 4) and offers by far the most quality games that are appropriate for all age groups!  This is the must-have system that you simply have to experience!

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About John Blanco

John Blanco is an avid game collector and loves to write about his hobby as much as he participates in it. He runs the Denver Retro Gamers and Denver Switch Mob Facebook groups in Denver, Colorado, and coordinates swap-style meetups with dozens of other collectors every couple of months.

3 thoughts on “What is the Wii U?

  1. The Wii U has had a recent influx in decent first party games, but I feel like Nintendo has really spent their load – if you catch my drift. That being said, do you think the Wii U will have continued success or slump back to the abysmal days pre Mario Kart 8.

    1. Systems don’t “spend their load” because the games don’t come and go. They stay. Whether you got a Wii U the first day, today, or 2 years from now…the game library is still available to you. I do think new game releases will spur sales for a short time on any system, but the recent influx of titles for Wii U will keep system purchases up permanently. I think the “dark days” are over, there’s just too many good games to play on the thing.

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