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Wii U's launch-day dramas

As the stories coming out of the US mount, we have to ask: is a 5GB day-one download ever going to be OK?

(Credit: Nintendo)

As the stories coming out of the US mount, we have to ask: is a 5GB day-one download ever going to be OK?

The Wii U is technically the first of the eighth generation of gaming consoles, and in that regard, it's a bit of a trail blazer for Nintendo. And like any trail blazer, it's bound to hit a few snags on the road forward.

While the launch has been quite successful, with our American colleagues noting that the crowds braved the cold New York weather for a midnight launch, the resulting responses have been mixed, to say the least.

Poor battery life on the GamePad, issues with the OS, problems with the Miiverse social network and more have all been raised, with Wired's Chris Kohler going so far as to pen a "10 Things I Hate About the Wii U" piece, something that we assume no journalist would ever do unless they really, really meant it.

But above everything, the biggest irritation seems to be the 5GB firmware update. It was known that the console would ship while missing some of promised functions — things like TVii and the promised video-streaming apps — but it wasn't known that a day-one download would be required to enable some of the other core functions. Things like the ability to play original Wii games, or use the online eShop.

5GB is not a small download — it's massive, actually, and will take hours and hours for most users. And that's not even counting the fact that a power or internet drop during that time has a better-than-average chance of turning your Wii U into a paperweight.

Day-one patches for games aren't uncommon anymore, but they're still massively frustrating, suggesting that you've actually bought an unfinished product. The same can be said for firmware upgrades. While it's great to know that you're getting the latest functionality, Nintendo seems to be pushing the friendship a little here. Especially in Australia, land of the download cap, 5GB can be a sizeable portion of one's monthly data limit. All for a console that people just want to be able to plug in and start playing.

We've asked Nintendo Australia whether a similar download will be needed for Australian Wii U purchasers come 30 November. They're not sure at the moment, but will get back to us as soon as they've got those details. Watch this space.