Why I’ll be buying a Wii U at launch

nintendo wii u launch
Wii u everything you need to know pricing launch release date

Nintendo doesn’t have it easy these days. Mobile phones and tablets continue to peck away at its handheld consoles while the Wii, now nearly six years old, struggles to find new buyers among fierce competition from Microsoft and Sony.

As if that weren’t enough, Nintendo is now paying for its negligence towards the gaming industry. The new controller has been met with skepticism, and the claims of better third-party support this time out have been met with shrugs.  We’ve heard this song and dance before.

It’s all seems very doom and gloom. Yet, in spite of this, I’m going to line up to buy a Wii U at launch – and if “gamer” is a label you’re happy to claim, you should too. Here’s why.

Wii U GamepadEnough Power To Please

The Internet’s popular opinion about the Wii U’s hardware is woefully miss-informed.  I’ve read countless forum posts and website comments that firmly state the Wii U is just a minor upgrade to the Wii and no better than the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. That’s nonsense.

We don’t know exactly what is in the Wii U yet, but we do know it’s a relatively new PowerPC processor paired with 2GB of RAM and a custom AMD Radeon GPU, most likely derived from the company’s Evergreen architecture. For comparison, the Xbox 360 uses a graphics chip similar to AMD’s Fudo architecture – which is five years older. Given the separation in architectures it would not be surprising if the raw power of the Wii U is three or four times that of an Xbox 360.

We don’t need to rely on speculation, however. Nintendo has constantly demonstrated games running at 1080p, something current consoles aren’t capable of (they render games at a lower resolution and up-scale to 1080p).

It’s likely that the new consoles from Microsoft and Sony will be quicker, but that’s okay. What’s important is that Nintendo will finally have hardware that can do justice to the beautiful art found in its first-party titles.

An Excellent Launch Lineup

New Super Mario Bros. UThe Wii U hits store shelves on November 18th with an impressive selection of games — 23 will be available on launch day, and 51 titles in total are planned for the “launch window” that runs through March.  Several of these are brand-new games that are launching exclusively for the Wii U. I’m personally looking forward to New Super Mario Bros. U, ZombiU and even Epic Mickey 2 (which will be released on all systems, but offer Wii U-specific features on the GamePad). These titles alone put the launch line-ups of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to shame. I’m also looking forward to Rayman Legends, though it now looks like it may not make the November 18 release.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Nintendo is also launching with a generous selection of third-party titles including Assassin’s Creed III, Darksiders II, Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Mass Effect 3. Most of these have been released, or will be released for other platforms, but their inclusion on the Wii U helps to beef up the console’s appeal. And that goes double for me.

I haven’t played several new console games because my Xbox 360 went kaput (for the third time) and was no longer covered under warranty. I couldn’t find any reason why I should waste money replacing it when the Wii U was already announced and capable of playing the same games. My excitement might be less if Microsoft made reliable hardware.

Nintendo Can Take Over My Living Room

Nintendo TV controllerNintendo TVii came out of nowhere. There was little to hint at its existence and then – boom! Nintendo drops the bomb just a few months before release.

TVii put the Wii U over the top for me. Since my Xbox 360 died, I’ve been using a Roku for my streaming needs. It works fine and I’d recommend it to anyone, but it’s terribly simple. Scrolling through Netflix titles can take some time, and there’s not much customization available. It works. And that’s all it does.

The new controller must have given the guys at Logitech a heart-attack. It’s taken them years to squeeze small touchscreens into their line of Harmony remotes. Then here comes Nintendo, tromping in with 6.2 touchscreen display that connects directly with streaming services (via the Wii U, of course), and can even be used to purchase new content.

Television via console is now Nintendo’s game to lose. As long as the processor isn’t too slow, as long as the touchscreen isn’t unresponsive, as long as the software works right – it’ll be great. And inexpensive, too, because there’s no need for an additional subscription to access content you’ve already paid for. That’s a lesson Microsoft should learn.

wii u pro controllerBackwards Compatibility

Buying a new console is often bitter-sweet. Yay, it’s a new console… but now I have to buy all new peripherals and games. Ah, hell.

The Wii U doesn’t ask so much from buyers. Most Wii accessories are compatible with it, as are most Wii games. Even software and save data downloaded to the Wii will be transferable to the Wii U. In a sense, the new console is more of an upgrade than an entirely new product. It adds new capabilities but also retains the functionality found in the old system.

Nintendo is not abandoning its family-friendly position. And that position is partially based on price. Asking a family to replace an old console with a new one – and three new controllers, plus any peripherals – is always a tall order. I’m happy I’m not going to have to re-purchase controllers when the next Mario Kart game comes out.

Wii U premium bundle

Yes, The Price Is Right

Nintendo’s premium Wii U, which is the one you want, retails for $349. There have been the usual complaints, but they’re only valid if you think coin is traded as freely in real life as it was in the last Mario game.

This entirely new console, which is more powerful than any other on the market today and comes with a 6.2” touchscreen controller, costs less at launch than either the Xbox 360 or PS3 did (by a huge margin in the case of the PS3). Even now it’s only $100 more (in premium guise) than the current mid-range Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 bundle. This seems like a damn good deal. I seriously doubt that Nintendo is making any per-unit profit at this price.

And let’s not forget that the Wii U is compatible with old controllers, which means current Wii owners don’t have to pay anything extra for additional peripherals. The new Pro controller, which is tailored towards third-party games, is the only exception — but hopefully it will be sold at a price similar to the current Classic controller, which is $20.


Will the new console reverse Nintendo’s fortunes? That’s impossible to know. Its competitors have yet to reveal themselves, and long-term success depends on far more than a console’s capabilities at launch.

Then again, speculation about profit margins won’t make the Wii U more or less enjoyable. It is a game console. It should play games well, and it should have good games to play. The Wii U promises better gaming than any other console, and Nintendo has thrown in a tasty bonus with TVii. That’s more than enough to get me in line. What about U?

Updated to fix a typo.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Product Review

'New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe' is 2D platforming wizardry

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is the latest Wii U game to come back from the dead on Switch. And wow, it’s much better than we remembered.

Among hundreds of choices, these are the best 25 SNES games of all time

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System might be the greatest game console ever made, but what are the best titles for the system? Here are our picks for the best SNES games.

One game console is better than the rest, and we're not afraid to say it

We've seen a relatively large influx of new consoles in the last year, including the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One X, so we've updated our recommendations for the best dedicated game hardware.

If we get a Nintendo 64 Classic, it needs to have these games

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.

Dataminers discover SNES games, more emulators for Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online may soon launch SNES games and more emulators, according to data miners. The list of hidden SNES titles include Breath of Fire 2 and Star Fox 2, while the other emulators may be the Nintendo 64 and Nintendo GameCube.

‘RollerCoaster Tycoon 2’ ride takes 12 years to complete

A RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 player has constructed a coaster in the game that will take more than 12 years to complete from beginning to end, and is actually a tiny ride taking up a small portion of the landscape.

‘Battlefield V’ adds Squad Conquest mode in ‘Lightning Strikes’ update

Electronic Arts and DICE have detailed what is included in the Battlefield V update Lightning Strikes. The update includes access to the mode Squad Conquest through the end of January.

Here's everything you need to know to trade in 'Pokémon Go'

After literally years of waiting, Pokémon Go finally gives trainers the option to trade Pokémon with others. It's not easy, though, and the cost is quite high if you try trading with strangers.

You're never too broke to enjoy the best free-to-play games

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially-popular League of Legends.

‘Rocket League’ is the latest game to get full cross-platform play

Psyonix has announced that Rocket League now supports full cross-platform play across PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, joining Fortnite as the only games to do so.

Here's what you need to know about 'World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth'

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is the latest expansion for the now 14-year-old MMORPG. It goes back to the roots of the Alliance vs. Horde conflict. Here's what you need to know.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.

Latest ‘Fortnite’ update channels Halo with a scoped revolver

The latest update for Fortnite, update 7.20, is now available, and it brings a new Scoped Revolver weapon to the game alongside the returning Glider item and a limited-time Snipers-only mode.

‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’ will make Blackout mode free to play this week

Treyarch and Activision are offering Call of Duty: Black Ops 4's Blackout mode as a free trial download for a limited time. The mode will be available from January 17 through January 24.