Five Things You Should Know About the Wii U

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After months and months of anticipation, the Wii U is finally hitting oceanic shores. Although dropping the cash for a brand new console can be all kinds of exciting, no launch is without a few teething issues and the Wii U is no exception. If you’re thinking of picking up Nintendo’s latest effort any time soon, here are five things you should be weary of.

5The Wii U only supports one GamePad (at launch)

single gamepad Five Things You Should Know About the Wii U

If you’ve kept up to speed with all the Wii U info within the last couple months, this is fairly common knowledge. However, Nintendo has been fairly tight-lipped about actually informing the general public about the limitation. In a nutshell, at launch, the Wii U console only supports a connection for a single Wii U GamePad. No launch games have support for an additional GamePad, nor can you buy a spare standalone one as well. While this will no doubt cause confusion on its own for less tech-savy buyers, the fact that you cannot buy a spare GamePad on launch is glaring omission on Nintendo’s part.

If your GamePad is damaged in some shape or form to the point where it is unusable, high chance is that you’ll have to ship it off to Nintendo for a repair or a replacement. Moral of this one, look after your gamepad people; it could be a while until you receive another.

4Your Nintendo Network ID is tied to your console

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Nintendo have finally done away with annoying friend codes and replaced their entire online infrastructure with the Nintendo Network: The Big N’s answer to Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. Now unlike its rivals, your Nintendo Network ID is in fact tied to your Wii U, meaning once you’ve created your ID, it’s stuck to that specific Wii U console for good. You won’t be able to use it on another console or move that ID around (not that we know of anyway).

So if your console is stolen or if your Wii U decides to cark it on you, kiss your entire Nintendo Network account goodbye (this includes console settings, your Mii and even game progress). It’s a strange limitation given that both Sony and Microsoft are fairly open about your respective online accounts, so why is Nintendo being different? Fingers crossed it decides to loosen the strains a bit to follow suit similar to XBLA or PSN.

3The basic 8GB Wii U only has 3GB of useable space

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Nintendo is offering two different Wii U consoles at the moment: the 8GB Basic Set and the 32GB Premium Set. If you’ve been eyeing the entry level model, be careful. That 8GB is going to be filled up extremely fast.

Let’s start from the top. The basic model of the Wii U comes with 8GB of flash memory. After performing a format of the drive, you’re left with 7.2GB of useable space. Now, once you’ve setup the system and created an account, the Wii U OS takes up 4.2GB, leaving your 8GB console with approximately 3GB of free space for games. And if it’s not sinking in by this point, that isn’t a great deal. If you bought a digital copy of Ninteno Land alongside the basic model, guess what? You won’t be able to play it. Why? Nintendo Land requires 3.2 GB of free space in order to run. However if you purchased New Super Marios Bros U, you’re in the clear as it only takes up 2GB. But a digital copy of both of them (or even more games)? I’m afraid you’re out of luck.

Nintendo does give you the option of plugging in an external hard drive to add additional space (up to 2TB), but this also has its fair share of disclaimers. First being the fact that you’ll have to use a hard drive that is powered by an external source or one that works through a USB ‘Y’ connector. This rules out USB sticks or external hard drives that only operate under a standard mini USB cable. Also each hard drive formatted with the Wii U is actually tied to that specific machine. You won’t be able to plug it into any other Wii U console. How Nintendo is going to accommodate this for people migrating consoles is unknown at this point, let’s just hope it doesn’t involve buying another external hard drive to do so.

2The Wii U requires a day one patch

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Out of the box, the Wii U is an offline console. You can play games, muck around with TV settings and, well that’s about it. All of the online functionality of the machine is packaged in a lovely 1GB day one update. So Miiverse, the web browser, Nintendo Shop, Nintendo Network, Wii U Chat and even the ability to add a USB storage device are all contained within this massive download.

More than likely, manufacturing of the actual console started before the Wii U OS was completed, resulting in the patch. However, why couldn’t this update be shipped on a DVD? Cracking open a brand new console only to wait a few hours before you’re able to use it can really leave you with a bad first impression, especially those who have a weak Internet connection (myself included) which leads onto my next point …

1Do NOT turn off the Wii U during the update

dontturnoff Five Things You Should Know About the Wii U

A very simple one, yet countless people have already fallen to this trap. As mentioned above, the day one patch is hefty, meaning it’s going to move at a snail’s pace. Having thought the progress bar was stuck whilst downloading the update, some people have turned off the console in the hope of restarting the update process. Little did they know that this actually bricks the entire unit (essentially rendering it completely useless).

You’re probably thinking “Oh I’ll just hold down the power button for 5 seconds and boot into recovery mode!” Nope, none of that magic works here. Bricking a Wii U means a trip to the Nintendo hospital – there’s no way around it. While the 1GB patch is bad enough, not having a factory reset or recovery sequence (similar to the PS3) is adding insult to injury. Get ready for countless Christmas mornings where the Wii U that Jimmy just got won’t be playable for a few weeks.

So when you’re grabbing that update for the first time, leave it be. Otherwise you might just end up with a fancy looking Nintendo paper weight.

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