The next generation of gaming is almost here. Less than 30 days from now we will be standing in line at various retailers to pick up our shiny new Wii U systems at midnight launch parties.
Finally Nintendo has gone HD and it looks like it will be a glorious transition. But you probably still have a lot of questions about their new console. That’s nothing to be ashamed about because Nintendo themselves have been very hush hush about the system.
We still don’t know certain details like exactly how the online system works! Or at least a more fleshed out look into how it works.
This post is meant to organize all the concrete information we currently know about the Wii U with a few of the best rumors thrown in. If you aren’t caught up on everything Wii U look no further than here as we delve into the things you need to know before you pick up Nintendo’s first HD system at launch.
First, let’s get this out of the way. Nintendo is shipping the Wii U with 2GB of RAM. 1GB of that will be available for games. The other 1GB is used exclusively for the operating system. During gameplay you can take screenshots, browse the web, make video calls and network with friend via Miiverse. So that 1GB of OS RAM is going to good use.
Nintendo hasn’t said if the Wii U has it’s own VRAM outside of the 1GB RAM they say is allocated for games. That leads us to believe that that 1GB of memory is shared between system and video memory for games. Sort of like how the Xbox 360 allows developers to choose how to split the system’s 512MB memory anyway they want.
The PS3 for example has 512MB memory as well, but developers are required to split it evenly between system and video memory. If Nintendo opts to not put in any restrictions in place on how developers split this memory it will probably be better for the system in the long run. Then again, they could mandate that all games must work with a 512MB/512MB split.
Details on this should become more clear after the system launches but it looks like the Wii U will at worst have twice the system memory and twice the video memory as the PS3/360 at all times. And that isn’t taking into account that they could free up some of that 1GB reserved for the OS in the future.
The Wii U also has 8GB or 32GB internal flash storage depending on which model you purchase. It has a 120Mhz sound processor as well.
Now, down to the biggest part of the Wii U’s hardware, the CPU.
The Wii U’s CPU was once referred to as being Power 7, but then IBM took all those statements back and now will only say it is PowerPC based. One reason people think it will be Power 7 is because the system has 32MB EDRAM.
For comparison the Xbox 360 has 10MB EDRAM, so the Wii U triples that.
Whether the CPU is Power 7 or not remains to be seen. Various developers have gone on record saying that the CPU itself is clocked lower than the Xenon’s 3.2Ghz. Some have said it leans closer to the 729Mhz of the Wii than 3.2Ghz. Most agree that the CPU is likely to be triple-core though.
The word on the street is that the CPU will end up being a modified, souped-up version of the Broadway CPU in the Wii, with three cores running at 1.8Ghz.
At first this may sound bad to you but you should remember that the Broadway CPU is crazy good for having such a low speed. If the Wii U CPU is indeed just three Broadway cores clocked up to 1.8Ghz it would actually outperform the Xbox 360′s Xenon which runs at 3.2Ghz.
Another hardware spec that has been hotly debated on forums across the web is how many GFLOPs the GPU will be. Most speculation pegs the GPGPU at 50% better than the GPU’s in the PS3 and 360. Popular belief is that the Wii U will end up sporting 380-600GFLOPs. For comparison, Unreal Engine 4 would ideally need 1 Teraflop for the best performance, though it is scalable.
AMD has played a game of cat and mouse with regards to giving details on the GPU in the console. One AMD rep told a customer that the GPU in the Wii U is based off the E6760. Whether that proves true or not, the GPU in the system has been one of the most impressive parts of it every time you ask a developer.
A brand new system wouldn’t be worth picking up on day one if it didn’t have some good games to go along with it right? Well, the Wii U has a lot of stellar titles arriving on store shelves on day one.
Here is a list of titles that will be available on November 18.
Mass Effect 3: Special Edition
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two
FIFA Soccer 13
Tekken Tag Tournament 2
New Super Mario Bros. U
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge
Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed
Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper
Assassin’s Creed 3
ESPN Sports Connection
Just Dance 4
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013
Game Party Champions
Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition
Madden NFL 13
Mighty Switch Force (as Mighty Switch Force HD)
Nano Assault Neo
Tank! Tank! Tank!
Toki Tori 2
Trine 2 (as Trine 2: Director’s Cut)
Now, you’re probably asking where is Pikmin 3? Well it releases Spring 2013, and for you Rayman fans it looks like Rayman Legends will release March 5th.
The full list of launch window titles (releasing up to March 2013) are as follows:
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Ben 10 Omniverse
Cabela’s Dangerous Hunts 2013
Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade
Game & Wario
LEGO City: Undercover
Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth
Rapala Pro Bass Fishing
Rise of the Guardians: The Video Game
The Wonderful 101
Wheel of Fortune
Wii Fit U
That’s a pretty solid line up for the first 4 months of the console life. Additionally, Nintendo and Platinum Games say Bayonetta 2 will make it out before the end of March as well.
The Wii U comes in two different flavors. The $299 White 8GB Basic Set which comes with one controller, sensor bar, the system and 8GB of storage. Then there is the Black Deluxe Set which comes with one controller, Nintendo Land, 32GB of storage, cradles for the system and the controller, and 10% back on all eShop downloads for two year.
The Deluxe model has been selling out quicker than the basic SKU, so you’ll have a harder time snagging one of those than the white model.
Online Play, Apps, etc.
The Wii U will have free online multiplayer. Nintendo has said in the past that the system will use an account system BUT they’ve also said friend codes will be present in some form. Reggie himself has indicated that friend codes will be less of a hassle this time around. Perhaps they are just necessary for certain functions, like video chat.
Miiverse is Nintendo’s big social networking feature in the Wii U. It allows you to visit message boards for games, video chat at all times and see messages from your friends while you play single player games. It’s basically Nintendo’s attempt to merge a service like Twitter or Facebook into a game’s console.
It’s an exciting service to say the least. Whether Nintendo can successfully pull it off remains to be seen but it certainly has a lot of potential.
The Wii U will also have applications for YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus. It isn’t clear if all of these apps will be available on day one but it does look like Netflix at least will be. All of these apps allow you to watch video on your TV screen or the Game Pad’s screen.
And once again, for the record the Wii U doesn’t play DVD films or Blu-Rays.
The Wii U uses a new disc medium called iDensity. Many people mistake it for Blu-Ray since it possess similar storage capacities. But it isn’t Blu-Ray. Each disc can store up to 25GB of data, though this is likely just a single layered disc.
The disc drive reads games at 22MB per second, out pacing the 360′s drive by 7MBs. One advantage of this drive is that it should help cut down on piracy because there aren’t any real drives like it on the market. It is sort of like how Nintendo used the GameCube’s mini-DVD’s to stop piracy but this time they chose a disc format that doesn’t have major disadvantages like how those mini-DVD’s only had 1.5GB storage compared to DVD’s 4.7GB.
The Wii U Game Pad comes with every system. I don’t think I need to explain to you it’s features because you probably already know them. The most important detail you may have missed is that the new controller has a battery that lasts about 5 hours. Each system comes with an AC adaptor for the controller.
The Wii U Pro Controller can be used for more “traditional” gaming in games like Zombi U, Black Ops 2, Rayman Legends, and more. It looks and feels like an Xbox 360 controller and boasts an 80 hour battery on one charge. However, many previews (including our own) have noted that the rumble in the controller feels very weak.
Both the Game Pad and the Pro controller add something that has never been done on a Nintendo home console, clickable analog sticks. Yes, the analog sticks are finally clickable so you can pull off all your normal knifing kills in Call of Duty without reaching for a button.
The Wii U also works with the Wii Classic Controller. In order to play Virtual Console games on the Wii U you will need a Classic Controller. The Wii U Pro Controller will not play these Virtual Console games. Additionally, all Wii remote and nunchucks are compatible with the new system.
More information to come!
With 30 days and counting left until the Wii U hits store shelves we will continue to update this post with as many details as Nintendo provides us. Are you jumping into the next-generation of gaming on November 18?