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CNET First Look
The Nintendo Wii U still has a lot to proveDespite its unique dual-screen presentation, innovative GamePad controller and ambitious Nintendo TVii service, the Wii U still has a lot to prove.
-Hey everyone. I'm Jeff Bakalar for cnet.com and this is my first look review of the Nintendo Wii U. Now, before get going here, I need to disclose that as of this recording there are a lot of features not yet accessible on the system. These include Wii backwards compatibility, Nintendo TV, Wii to Wii U transferring, eShop, Mii verse, Wii U video chat, access to the Nintendo work and all the streaming apps like amazon and Neflix and even more stuff. We are told that some of these features will be available on day 1 and some won't. For example, Nintendo TV is not gonna be around until some time in December, but I will be sure to update the video and the review once they go live, but for now, let's talk about what we do know. The Wii U comes in 2 models, the basic and the Delux. Now, definitely recommend going with the Delux for $350 because you get Nintendo Land included in the box and a bigger 32 gigabyte flash to hard drive plus more accessories. The game and the memory are worthy extra 50 bucks alone. Now, the Wii U console has a total of 4 USB 2.0 ports and an SD card slot at front. There is an HDMI port in back along with slots for component connection, power and the sensor bar. All Wii games and controller accessories work with the Wii U. So, there's no need to buy anymore if you already have some old ones lying around. The Wii U provides a unique gaming experience using a rechargeable tablet controller cold the game pad that can use motion and touch control to interact with games. The battery last about 3 to 5 hours depending on what you're playing, and it takes about 2-1/2 hours to full charge. One of the coolest and most promising game fed features is the ability to play off TV games, which plays just all action onto the game pad. Anyone who has roommates or lives with a spouse will absolutely love this feature. Now, not every game supports this, so you have to read up beforehand on which games do. At launch, only a handful of them support it like new Super Mario Brothers U, Darksiders II, Assassin's Creed III, and Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Now, the range of the game pad is good, and as long as I had it within the line of site at the console, I was able to use it around 25 feet away. However, once you go into another room, that distance drops through just one wall I was only getting it work at around 10 feet away from the console. Now, playing with the game pad is a lot of fun, but it's a really big and cumbersome unit. This is over 10 inches wide. I have monster hands, so I can only imagine how a small child I gonna have to really grip this thing. The gam pad only weighs about a pound, but it does take up a lot of real estate. There are a ton of buttons on the game pad too, so there's plenty of room for controlling almost any type of game thinkable. It's a very versatile controller. The game pad is very responsive and there's absolutely no detectable latency issues at all. Now, Wii use interface looks just the 3DSS with rows of tiled icons that represent games and apps. The menu screen can be swapped back and forth with the game pad screen during most instances. Jumping in and out of system settings can take a little longer than you would think. I've had to wait as long as 20 seconds on occasion, by today's standard that's almost unacceptable. The Wii U is the first Nintendo console to support HD gaming and playing Mario in high definition for the first time is awesome. Most of the games look fantastic and are just about on par with PS3 and Xbox 360 graphics though video files out there may spot some shortcomings with texture and frame rates. There is definitely a learning curve with the game pad and I found that I don't always know where to look. There are some visual cues on screen, but some games assumed that you already know what to do. While Nintendo TV will allow for the combination of live TV, guide viewing content discovery and more, the game pad can only currently control television. In fact, it actually does a great job with my Verizon files box. However, it's probably not going to replace the harmony remote that you might have because there doesn't seem to be any sort of activity function where the game pad can blast the series of commands to get a device working. Instead, you'll probably have to manually input items just like you would with a bunch of separate remote controls. Again, we'll be updating this video review with much more information once it's pushed live. So, be sure to check back here very soon. There is a lot more to learn about the Wii U console and all the games you can play on it, so I highly suggest reading through the in depth review on the product page. I'm Jeff Bakalar, and this has been the first look at the Nintendo Wii U.