Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Wii U FAQ – Everything you need to know

Originally posted on Nintendo Gamer- 4 June 2012 | Written by:

All the Wii U stats that're fit to print:

Wii U logo

The Wii U? Is this another add-on for the Wii? Gawwwwwdsakes. No, of course it isn’t. You come to a site called Nintendo Gamer and you still think that? Come on friend, have a word with yourself.

I know, I’m just asking from the point of view of a newcomer.
Right. In that case, no, the Wii U is not like the Wii Balance Board or Wii Zapper or Wii Wheel, it’s a brand new system, Nintendo’s sixth generation console. So it goes NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, GameCube, Wii, Wii U. That’s how big a deal this is.

Thanks, I’m off to pre-order it. Bye now!
Wait, don’t you want to hear more about it? I’m paid by the word.

Um… alright. What does it do?
Good, start with a vague one. Well, it’s going to be far more powerful for starters. It’s not quite clear yet exactly how powerful it is, but rough estimates we’ve heard suggest it’s got a decent amount more oomph than the Xbox 360 and PS3. Not enough that it’ll look like the difference between a SNES and a Nintendo 64, but enough that you’ll be impressed.

Nice. 1080p?
Apparently so, yes. It’s been claimed that the Wii U is perfectly comfortable with rendering games at full 1080p resolution, instead of rendering them at 720p and upscaling them to 1080p (which is what most Xbox 360 and PS3 games do). In non-technobabble, this means games will be in “true” 1080p HD instead the compromised version you usually get on other systems. It’s also worth remembering though that on top of all this, a good deal of the Wii U’s processing power will also be going to the second screen, so combine that with the 1080p visuals and it’s clear this thing is no slouch.

What second screen?
You were just about to pre-order this thing a minute ago and you don’t know about the second screen? That’s pretty much the whole point of the Wii U.

It’s fine, we’re all friends here. The Wii U GamePad (which is the new name for the controller) has a special touchscreen built into it. It acts a bit like the touch screen on a DS or 3DS, and developers will be able to use it as a second screen during games. It could be used as a map in an FPS game, for example, or a formation screen in a football game so you can make changes on the fly. It essentially looks like an iPad, but it’s lighter and – crucially – it still has buttons so you can continue to play traditional games with it instead of a million Angry Birds and Doodle Jump clones.

Buttons, you say? The full shebang?
Yup. As well as the D-Pad you’ve got two analogue sticks (perfect for FPS games), a D-Pad, the usual B, A, Y and X buttons, four shoulder buttons and the Start, Select and Home buttons.

Analogue sticks? You mean those rubbish Circle Pad things on the 3DS?
No, that’s why we said sticks. While the prototype version of the Wii U GamePad last year did indeed have Circle Pads on it, Nintendo made a big point during its recent Nintendo Direct video of showing that the GamePad not only has proper analogue sticks now, but they can also click in for the first time on a Nintendo system. Essentially, there’s nothing you can do on an Xbox 360 or PS3 controller that you can’t do on this baby, plus it has a ruddy big screen in it too.

Hmmm, quite. But I reckon Nintendo will have a hard time convincing some “hardcore” Xbox and PS3 gamers over to the Wii U if they’re not won over by that screen. Some of them prefer a smaller controller, you see.
That’s where the Wii U Pro Controller comes into play. This brand new joypad is essentially the Wii U’s equivalent of the Classic Controller, but the big difference this time is that it’s wireless and has a built-in battery. That means no more awkward moments playing with a Wii Remote dangling underneath you. Its layout looks like a cross between an Xbox 360 controller and an inverted PS3 controller, and the big fat analogue sticks on it are sure to impress FPS fans. While it’s only going to be an optional controller (every Wii U game will still be built with the Wii U GamePad in mind first and foremost), it may be enough to sway some fussy Xbox or PS3 gamers who don’t like the size of the Wii U GamePad.

What else does this GamePad do then?
Let’s see. It also has NFC (near-field communication) technology, which is activated through a little square on the side of the GamePad. If you’ve played Skylanders you already know how this works – you can sit something on the pad (in the case of Skylanders it’s an action figure) and a chip inside it will communicate with the pad. You can then read information from it and, interestingly, write information to it too. This means that, in theory, you could end up with a Pokémon game where you have an actual physical Pokémon figure that can level up and you can then take to a friend’s house to use on their Wii U in its newly levelled-up state.

Sweet. I look forward to filling my bedroom with lots of NFC tat then. What else?
The GamePad also has a new TV button on it, which allows you to use it as a replacement for your TV Remote. Good luck losing that down the back of the sofa. On top of that, you can also make video calls, either by looking down at the screen or by sitting it on a stand in front of your TV so your friend can see your entire living room. Perfect for injured people who want to be at a party but can’t leave their bed in case they break a seventeenth bone in the process.

Sounds good so far. But if there’s one thing I hated about the Wii, it was its front-end menus.
What? I thought the grid-based layout was perfectly acceptable.

I agree, I’m just setting you up so you can tell me the Wii U one is better.
God, you’re good. Well, yes, it is. Much better, in fact. The first thing you see when you turn the Wii U on is the Miiverse.

The Miiverse? Sounds like a shortened version of Mii Universe.
Why are you sitting here asking me about the Wii U when you could be out solving crimes with a logical mind like that? Of course it means Mii Universe. When you start up the Wii U you’ll see a variety of icons, each representing popular games among the Wii U community (including ones you don’t own). As well as your own Mii, you’ll also see the Miis of your friends and family, as well as other Miis from the same country as you, all running around and playing different games. You can go to a game to see what people are saying about it and take part in discussions about it. Meanwhile, on the GamePad screen, you have a more traditional set of options for loading games, apps and the like.

Discussions, eh? Like forums?
Sort of. It’s not yet quite clear exactly how it’ll work but it seems that you’ll be able to ask specific questions about games (how to defeat a certain boss and so forth) and people can then respond with answers. Think of it as a sort of Twitter feed, but one focused solely on games. You’ll even be able to add comments to actual sections of games.

Right, you’re confusing me now. You’re saying I can leave tweets behind in games?
Sort of. But they’re not tweets, remember, they’re Miiverse comments. Nobody wants to get sued here. It seems that at times in the game you’ll be asked how you’re feeling and, if you choose, you can then use the Wii U GamePad to enter a message. So if you die right at the end of a level in the Wii U version of New Super Mario Bros, you can leave a message behind saying “OMG WTF LMAO IDK WTF jus hapend thar”. Then, when someone else in the world dies there too they’ll get your message, as well as messages from other people who died at the same point.

So it’s a bit like the whole world is playing the game together?
Well if you want to get all Live Aid about it then sure, that’s what it’s like. It’s also an interesting way for people to discuss what they like and dislike about games in the games themselves. One example we’ve seen is the world map screen in New Super Mario Bros where each level has a comment from someone saying what they think about it or boasting about something they’ve managed to do.

So it’s like tagging a friend in a Facebook photo only I’m tagging a level?
You like your analogies, don’t you? Yes, it’s like tagging a friend in Facebook photo, except World 4-3 of New Super Mario Bros on Wii U isn’t going to send you a message back saying “omg untag me, I look like a right ming there”.

Sounds good so far then, I like that each Wii U game can essentially be an interactive forum. It’ll be interesting to see how that works in a Pokémon game. Is this just going to be another Wii Message Board though – a good idea that ends up lying there unused?
It doesn’t look like it. The problem with the Wii (and 3DS to an extent) was that you had to register friends using friend codes. If you didn’t do that, you had nobody to interact with. This time the Wii U doesn’t just integrate your friends but also actively throws people at you from all over your own country, meaning you’ll constantly have thousands of people to potentially interact with.

That’s fine but what if I just want to play a quiet single-player game without anyone screaming “ZOMG THIS GAEM IS TEH BIZNIZ” into my eyeholes every time I want to play or – even worse – spoiling what happens ahead?
Don’t worry. Though it hasn’t been confirmed yet, we’re sure there’ll be options to turn off the comments if you don’t want them. While this is a huge step forward for Nintendo it’s still worth bearing in mind that this is a company that’s proud of its family-friendly gaming heritage, so you can bet your bottom dollar there’ll be an option to turn off other people’s comments so little Timmy and Susie can enjoy playing Pokémon without people screaming “SLOWPOKE IS THE MUTTZ NUTZ” at them.

Well, this is all marvellous. I’m sold. When I get it I’ll almost be scared to leave the house, in case I miss out on some sort of white-hot discussion.
That won’t be an issue shortly after launch though. Nintendo plans to add Miiverse compatibility to other devices, meaning that you’ll eventually be able to access Miiverse discussions on your 3DS, PC or anything else with an internet browser (like a smartphone). If we wanted to be cheeky, we’d say you could read it on your Vita’s browser and pretend it’s got a social application that’s actually worth bothering with instead of that Near rubbish.

Oooh, you are awful. But I like you. So is that it?
For now, yes. We expect to hear more about Wii U over the coming days, and we’ll be sure to update this FAQ when that happens. Until then, if you have any more questions, be sure to ask them in the comments below and we’ll add them to this FAQ in the next update.