The Wii U, codenamed as Project Cafe, is an eighth generation video game console, the successor to the Wii, and Nintendo's sixth home console that competed with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 during its lifetime. It is the first Nintendo console capable of displaying up to 1080p high definition (HD) visuals, and utilizes a more robust online experience than its predecessor. The system's main controller, dubbed the Wii U GamePad, features a 6.2-inch touch screen which can stream content from the console, allowing for playing away from TV, as well as asymmetrical gameplay.
A prototype of the system was revealed at Nintendo's 2011 E3 Press Conference, and was playable on the show floor. The system is fully backwards compatible with Wii software and accessories. The console been released in two colors; white for the basic set, which includes the console, GamePad, stylus, an HDMI cable, an AC adapter for the console and the GamePad; and black which is included in the Deluxe Set (known as the Premium Pack in Europe and Japan) which includes everything in the basic set as well as a copy of Nintendo Land, a stand for the GamePad as well as a charging cradle, and the Deluxe Digital Promotion (known as Nintendo Network Premium in Europe and Japan; you receive a $5 eShop code for every $50 you spend).
The Wii U was Nintendo's lowest-selling home console of all time, with the Nintendo Switch outselling its lifetime sales in only nine months, selling only 13.56 million units, even worse than the Nintendo GameCube. Because it was a failure, production for the Wii U has ended in Brazil, South Africa, Europe, North America, Australia, and Japan, but is still in production in other parts of the world. One of the games for the system, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild was released on March 3rd, 2017, the same day that the Switch was released along with its own version of the said game. Third party games will continue to be released for this system until April 2022.
There were 23 games available when the system launched in North America:
- Assassin's Creed III (2012, Ubisoft)
- Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition (2012, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops II (2012, Activision)
- Darksiders II (2012, THQ)
- Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (2012, Disney Interactive Studios)
- ESPN Sports Connection (2012, Ubisoft)
- FIFA Soccer 13 (2012, Electronic Arts)
- Game Party Champions (2012, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
- Just Dance 4 (2012, Ubisoft)
- New Super Mario Bros. U (2012, Nintendo)
- Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge (2012, Nintendo)
- Nintendo Land (2012, Nintendo)
- Rabbids Land (2012, Ubisoft)
- Scribblenauts Unlimited (2012, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
- SiNG Party (2012, Nintendo)
- Skylanders: Giants (2012, Activision)
- Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (2012 ,Sega)
- Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (2012, Namco Bandai)
- Transformers Prime: The Game (2012, Activision)
- Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper (2012, Tecmo Koei)
- Wipeout 3 (2012, Activision)
- Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 (2012, Ubisoft)
- ZombiU (2012, Ubisoft)
The CPU is designed by IBM and is described as an "all-new, Power-based microprocessor". The processor is a multi-core design manufactured at 45 nm with an eDRAM cache. Although neither Nintendo nor IBM have revealed detailed specifications, such as the number of cores, clock rate, or cache sizes, references to the chip containing "a lot" of eDRAM and "the same processor technology found in Watson" indicate that the processor shares some characteristics with IBM's POWER7 processor, which powers the Watson computer system and incorporates a large L3 eDRAM cache. The Wii U CPU is produced by IBM at their 300 mm semiconductor manufacturing facility in East Fishkill, New York.
The main media input is a slot-loading optical disc drive compatible with 12 cm "proprietary high-density optical discs" (25GB per layer) and 12 cm Wii optical discs.
The console features an internal flash memory of either 8 GB (Basic Set) or 32 GB (Deluxe/Premium Set) for downloadable software and save files. It features an SD card slot that supports SDHC cards, and four USB ports (two in the front and two in the back) allowing storage expansion by up to 2 TB.
The system has an HDMI 1.4 out port for HD audio and video, an AV Multi Out port (the same port as the Wii) and a Sensor Bar power port.
Additionally, the console comes in two versions: the Basic version, which is white and has 8 gigabytes of internal storage, and the Deluxe version, which is black and has 32 gigabytes of internal storage. The Wii U GamePad also comes in these two colors depending on which system you chose to buy.
The main input device of the Wii U, known as the Wii U GamePad, resembles a tablet with a 6.2 inch, 16:9 touch screen, and is capable of streaming content from the console at a 480p resolution. The touch screen can be used with a stylus for precision movement, similar to the Nintendo DS family of systems and the Nintendo 3DS; however, due to the size of the screen, one may also find it easier to use their finger.
It has four face buttons (A, B, X, and Y), two clickable analog sticks (Nintendo 3DS-like Circle Pads in the E3 2011 version), four shoulder buttons (L, R, ZL, and ZR), a D-pad, start (+) and select (-) buttons, an NFC (near-field communication) reader/writer, a home button, a TV Control button, and a power button. It features an inner-facing camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, a sensor strip, a rumble system, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, a rechargeable battery and built-in flash memory to store data.
The TV Control button, when pressed, brings up a menu that allows the GamePad to control most TVs, as well as most set-top boxes. This menu will appear even when the Wii U console is off.
The inner-facing camera can be used to video chat with friends using the Wii U Chat application.
Below the directional pad is a small logo, which is the NFC reader/writer. This gives player the ability to use real-world objects, such as cards and figurines, to interact with the game. This is the same technology used in games like the Skylanders series, as well as recent mobile phones. A demonstration of how this technology might be used on Wii U was seen in a leaked concept video for Ubisoft's Rayman Legends.
Aside from the GamePad, another new controller has also been revealed, the Wii U Pro Controller. The Pro Controller is a traditional controller, and has the same buttons as the GamePad, but doesn't have a touch screen. It resembles the Wii's Classic Controller Pro, but with added functions such as a power button, and a direct connection to the Wii U as opposed to requiring a Wii Remote.
The Wii U is backwards compatible with almost all Wii software and input devices. It can also play GameCube games (unlike the Wii Family Edition and Wii Mini), but only if the Homebrew app is installed. However, unlike the original Wii models, it cannot read GameCube disks and Virtual Console was not added. Originally, at E3 2011, Nintendo confirmed that the Wii U would not play GameCube games. Shortly after, it was announced that games could be played through the Virtual Console, but it did not happen.
With the release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, a GameCube controller adapter was released for use with the game. This adapter is currently only compatible for that game, the controllers will not work with any other game while plugged in through this accessory.
The Wii U's online system is Nintendo Network. With Nintendo Network, users can play multiplayer games with friends and other players around the world, browse the internet, and purchase games to download. Barring games that require a specific peripheral, both first- and third-party games are offered on a physical disc as well as a digital download beginning at launch, like New Super Mario Bros. 2 on the Nintendo 3DS. Both discs and download codes are available to purchase at major retailers.
Miiverse is Nintendo Network's native social network. The name "Miiverse" is a portmanteau of the words "Mii" and "universe". When a Wii U console is turned on, WaraWara Plaza will be displayed on the TV screen, which includes Miiverse posts as well as announcements. Every Wii U game has its own Miiverse community. Miiverse was accessible on the Wii U, computers, mobile devices, and the Nintendo 3DS, but has been discontinued.
Nintendo TVii was a free service that allows users to search for television shows, movies and sports events and displays results from all of the available video streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video, as well as local live television listings. Users can access their Tivo and other DVRs to record shows and keep track of their favorite programs. There is also an advanced version of the TV remote accessed by pressing the TV Control button. The service also connects with Miiverse to allow for realtime social updates from friends and others as they watch shows, movies and live TV. However, due to bad reception, it was taken down and removed.
Since the early years of the Wii, some speculated that Nintendo would release an HD version of the console, commonly referred to as Wii HD, since it was the only console of the seventh generation not to feature high-definition (1080p) graphics.
In April 2011, an anonymous source stated that Nintendo was planning on unveiling their next console, Project Café, at E3 of that year. It was also rumored that the system would have HD resolutions, be able to play Wii software, and have a new controller with a built-in high resolution screen. It was also said that the machine was significantly more powerful than the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Many claims focused on the new controller, which would feature dual analog sticks, a standard D-pad, two bumpers, two triggers and more. The functionality of the new controller was compared to a Nintendo GameCube controller; other sites compared the controller to an iPad with buttons. They also added that there would be a front-facing camera on the controller, six-axis motion controls, as well as a built-in sensor bar, and would feature a single-touch 6.2-inch touchscreen. The console was also stated to resemble a modernized Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Names for the system, such as the Nintendo Stream, Nintendo Feel, and simply Nintendo, were tossed around.
On April 25, 2011, Nintendo released a statement officially announcing a system to succeed the Wii. They simultaneously announced that it would be released during 2012, and that playable console units would be present at E3 2011, confirming the majority of the rumors. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata said that the system would "offer something new for home game systems" and would be released in the fiscal year of 2012. The prototype version of the console was unveiled at the event as promised, though Nintendo's stock fell almost 10 percent that day, with analysts not believing that the Wii U's controller was as innovative as the Wii Remote.
On October 28, 2011, Gamespot released info that Nintendo will have the final layout for the Wii U at E3 2012. They also stated that the Wii U would be cross-platform compatible with certain titles alongside the Nintendo 3DS. Certain titles have been confirmed, including a then-untitled Super Smash Bros. project.
On January 26, 2012, Nintendo president Iwata told investors that the Wii U would be launched by the 2012 year end shopping season in all major regions. The release date and price information would be announced on September 13th of 2012.
On November 18, 2012, Wii U in America was released. COO and President of Nintendo of America Reggie Fils-Aime was in New York to start the countdown of the Wii U release. It was later released in Europe and Australia on the 30th of November, with Japan waiting until the December 8th for the console's launch there.
In January 2015, Nintendo announced it was exiting the Brazilian and South African markets prematurely. This was a foretaste of things to come, with the console being gradually discontinued over the next two years in the mainstream regions; productions of the console had been formally ceased in January 2017, in preparation for its succeeding hybrid console, Nintendo Switch.
- This is the first Nintendo home console to be bigger than its predecessor.
- This is the second Nintendo home console to be released in North America before Japan.
- This is the first Nintendo console to primarily use the previous console's controllers as well as new controllers, as all the current Wii controllers and accessories have been rebranded.
- This is the first system since the Sega Dreamcast to feature 2 screens without the use of any outside game systems, though the Dreamcast relied on the additional VMU.
- It is also the first Nintendo home console to have this feature.
- The Wii U uses much less energy than most devices, at 37kWh/ year. It's even less than the Wii's 40kWh/year.
- A transparent prototype of the Wii U was shown in one video of Iwata Asks where the hardware of the Wii U was being discussed.
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- Ashcraft, Brian (November 10, 2016). In Japan, Nintendo Announces Wii U Production Is Ending. Kotaku. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
- Kinsley, John (November 14, 2016). New Wii U bundle released in Australia. NintendoToday. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
- Ashcraft, Brian (January 31, 2017). Wii U Production Has Officially Ended For Japan Kotaku. Retrieved March 5, 2020.
- RawmeatCowboy, (September 26, 2012) "Nintendo Announces 23 Games Launching with Wii U on Nov. 18"
Published by: Gonintendo
- Downin, Jonathan (October 28, 2011) "Final Wii U hardware to be at E3 2012"
Published by: Gamespot