Nintendo Wii U

The Wii U is a video game console released on November 18, 2012, in North America, November 30, 2012 in the PAL region, and December 8, 2012 in Japan. It is manufactured by Nintendo to compete against the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.

As of March 31, 2013, 3.45 million Wii Us have been sold worldwide. In the US 400,000 units were sold in the first week of release. Over 40,000 units were sold on the first weekend in the UK, and in the month of December, over 600,000 were sold in Japan.

The system was first thought of after a few limitations and challenges arose with its predecessor, the Wii. While the Wii attracted casual gamers, the Wii U is intended for the “hardcore” gaming fan base. The Wii U also went through various structural changes.

A prototype version of the Wii U was unveiled at E3 in 2011. It featured a controller (GamePad) with a touchscreen that was over six inches wide with a built in microphone, speakers, gyroscope, accelerometer, rumble and a camera. The console handled the processing and game display could be on a TV screen, on the controller, or both at the same time.

The Wii U is available in black or white. The white version is called the basic system and the black is the deluxe version. The basic version has 8 GB of storage, the Wii U Game Pad, a stylus and an HDMI cable. The deluxe version is bundled with the same accessories as the basic version plus a Nintendo Network Premium Subscription; it has 32 GB of storage, a sensor bar, stands for the console and controller, plus the Nintendo Land game (except in Japan).

The system uses four 512 MB RAM chips for a total of 2 GB RAM. Internal storage is 8 GB on the basic model and 32 GB for the deluxe with the use of an SD card, up to an extra 32 GB can be achieved. With a USB hard drive an extra 2 TB can be used for storage.

The unit has an SD card slot, four USB ports (two on the front and two on the rear), a sensor bar port, an AV multi out port, and an HDMI port. It uses the NetFront Browser engine for the internet with Mozilla 5.0, Apple Web Kit, NX, or Nintendo Browser. It does not support the Adobe Flash plug-in. The console can support the use of two controllers.

Accessories include the Wii U GamePad, which is the main controller with a built-in touchscreen. It is compatible with the Wii Remote Plus, Nunchuk, Wii Balance Board and the Wii U Pro Controller.

The Wii U Pro Controller features standard control sticks, buttons and triggers, but it is not compatible with original Wii games.

Features of the Wii U include Near Field Communication (NFC). This NFC chip allows the user to import content from supported devices. It also can make wireless transactions with supported credit cards by placing the card on top of the Wii U GamePad.

The Nintendo Network feature allows for online multiplayer access, video chatting, and digital downloads. Each Wii U system can have up to twelve user accounts. The SpotPass allows the Wii U to automatically download content via the Wi-Fi, such as patches (updates) and in-game content.

The Nintendo eShop provides the user with access to download digital game titles, applications, patches, add-ons, and game expansions. The downloaded content is attached to the user account and cannot be transferred. Eight downloads may be obtained at one time.

Users who purchase the Deluxe Wii U have access to a free two-year subscription that lets the user receive points for every digital purchase. The points can be redeemed on future purchases. The promotion is planned through December 2014.

Club Nintendo is a reward service that once the user is linked to, every product downloaded will automatically earn coins and stars that will be added to the Club Nintendo account. These coins and stars may later be redeemed for prizes.

Miiverse is a social network built-in to the Wii U. The user can chat by text with another user and share achievements with supported games. The Miiverse can also be accessed with a PC, mobile device, tablet or the Nintendo DS, but the Wii U must be activated first.

Wii U Chat allows user to communicate with video calls using the Gamepad’s front camera.

Upon the release of the Wii U 29 games were also released in North America, 26 in Europe, 25 in Australia, and 11 in Japan. As of June 20, 2013 there are 146 games available for the Wii U, 98 retail and 48 downloadable titles. Most of the games and accessories from the original Wii are compatible with the Wii U, except games cannot be played on the GamePad screen. NES and Super NES titles are also available. Game Boy Advance and Nintendo 64 titles plan to be made available at a later date.

Image Caption: A Nintendo Wii U in white with GamePad. Credit: Takimata/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)