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Wii U: Digital Spy answers your questions

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Wii U tablet controller final

© Nintendo / NeoGAF

With Digital Spy landing a Wii U ahead of its launch in the UK this week (November 30), we asked you to submit any questions you had about the device.

After a few dozen responses through our Level Up blog and Twitter, we've whittled down the submissions to cover all aspects of the console, such as its unique controller, external memory support, Wii backwards compatibility and online features.

> Read our review of Nintendo Land
> Read our review of New Super Mario Bros U
> Read our review of Scribblenauts Unlimited

The new remote looks great. Does it feel heavy or cumbersome during prolonged periods of play? (From giscott)
The Wii U GamePad is surprisingly light and comfortable to hold. It is 491g (1.1lb), which makes it lighter than an iPad (661g/1.5lb), but slightly heavier than a 3DS XL (336g/0.74lb). It actually feels lighter than a 3DS XL though, since the weight is distributed over a wider area.

That being said, it can become uncomfortable if you are playing a game that makes extensive use of the touchscreen so that you're holding the controller with only one hand while using the stylus with the other. But so long as you're holding the controller with both hands, its contours and hand grips make it feel surprisingly similar to a GameCube controller, just wider.

Wii U

© Nintendo



What about the Wii U for disabled gamers - how are we meant to manage the new controller? What about people who use one hand for gaming? (From Simon, @ReddUK)
The Wii U GamePad is much more like a conventional game controller than the Wii Remote, with most games requiring both hands to use the analogue sticks and buttons.

Games can also use the touchscreen and a gyro sensor in addition to buttons, which may require users to shift how they hold the GamePad as they play. Some games, like Scribblenauts Unlimited, can be played entirely with a stylus, but that seems to be the exception, not the norm. Unfortunately, the Wii U GamePad does not appear to be very accessible for disabled gamers.

What is the battery life like on the GamePad? (From Paul)
According to Nintendo the GamePad is estimated to last between 3 to 4 hours on a single charge. This time can vary depending on screen brightness and volume settings, and there is a power-saving mode option which further dims the screen.

On the middle brightness setting with volume turned on high and power-saving mode turned off we found three hours to be about average, though it occasionally dipped closer to two hours depending on the game.

Can you play Wii games on the GamePad or is it only for Wii U games? (From Chris)
When playing Wii games the system goes into a complete Wii mode, which disables the Wii U GamePad and requires you to use a Wii Remote. It's similar to how GameCube backwards compatibility was built into the Wii, where the system essentially becomes the older console temporarily.

As such, when in Wii mode you cannot use any accessories or features that an actual Wii could not use. This includes the GamePad, Pro Controller and any Miiverse functions.

'New Super Mario Bros. U' screenshot

© Nintendo


[Above: Launch title New Super Mario Bros U]

Can you download old Mario classics yet from NES, SNES and N64? (From Dean, @naylor152)
Yes, but you will be downloading the games through the system's Wii mode. Wii mode includes the Wii eShop, which lets users download any of the Wii's Virtual Console or WiiWare games and play them in Wii mode.

It is also possible to permanently transfer all data and downloaded games from an existing Wii to Wii U, which also removes all data from the original Wii in the process. As with the above question, this means that the GamePad and Pro Controller cannot be used to play classic Nintendo games in Wii mode.

Nintendo has said it will eventually begin releasing Virtual Console games through the Wii U eShop, but it will likely require the games to be purchased a second time since there is no clear way at this time to link a Wii system ID (the DRM that records which games have been purchased) and the Wii U's Nintendo Network ID.

Do we have to download the 4.8GB day one system update? (From Jaydogg)
The day one system update is not technically required for the system to function, but without it you will miss out on a number of features. The day one update adds all of the Wii U's online capabilities, so without it you won't have access to friends lists, online play, the eShop, streaming video apps, and what is possibly Wii U's best feature, Miiverse.

Those without a reliable internet connection can still just go ahead and play games without the update, but they'll be missing a significant portion of the Wii U's features.

MiiVerse

© Nintendo / NeoGAF


[Above: Miiverse]

Is Miiverse as good as people are making it out to be? (From Duncan, @one2escape)
Miiverse is a pretty spectacular feature that is fully integrated into the system. In Miiverse you can browse message boards for every game and app on the system where users will post tips and comments, ask for help in a game, or even submit some surprisingly well-done fan art.

Posts can be marked as spoilers if necessary, and any other Wii U user can comment on any user's posts. Pressing the home button while playing a game will automatically take a screenshot, which you can attach to Miiverse posts if you're asking for help or simply showing off to the world.

Nintendo has worked some kind of magic with its Miiverse policing system, as the entire network seems devoid of any profanity, obscenities or lewd drawings. Miiverse also contains the friends list for your Nintendo Network ID, and is where you can send and accept friend requests.

In addition to adding users to your friends list, you can also choose to simply follow other users, which functions similarly to Twitter by making all of that user's posts appear in your activity feed without actually adding them to your friends list.

If the follow feature sounds silly for a games console, just wait until you see some of the talented artists posting their drawings in Miiverse. Both the friends list and follow list have a limit of 100 users.

Does Wii U feature an achievement or trophy system? (From James, @CoLEyDiizZLe)
No. Individual games can have their own achievement systems though. For example, ZombiU lets players sign into their Ubisoft Uplay account to earn achievements and in-game rewards. Nintendo Land also features stickers that can be earned for each activity, which are similar to achievements. However, there is no universal achievement or trophy system that is consistent across all Wii U games.

'Nintendo Land' screenshot

© Nintendo


[Above: Nintendo Land]

What external hard drive will work with the Wii U? (From Martin)
Wii U is compatible with external hard drives up to 2TB of storage, but works best with external HDDs that also use their own power cord. The system's USB ports are incapable of supplying enough power to an external HDD on their own while also using the USB port to read and write data to the HDD.

If your external HDD does not have its own power cord it will require a USB Y cable, which lets you plug the HDD into two USB ports to pull both power and data from the system. Wii U can only connect to a single HDD at a time and includes four USB ports, two in the front and two in the back, so using a USB Y cable will not monopolise all of the USB ports on the system.

While a solid state drive could work with Wii U, it is not recommended since flash memory has a more limited rewrite capacity, so the drive will burn out much faster and you won't get any of the speed benefits that an SSD would normally have with a PC. A USB thumbdrive can also connect to Wii U, which can be used to back up save files for games but will not let you run a game directly from the thumbdrive.

I have a lot of videos stored on an NAS drive, will the Wii U be able to access these? (From Richard)
Any external HDD connected to the Wii U must be reformatted for the system before it can be used. Your NAS drive will work with Wii U, but in order to do so you'll lose all data saved on it.

Once a drive has been formatted for Wii U, a PC will no longer recognise it and will ask to reformat it, making it impossible to transfer files - including videos - between a PC and Wii U. Even if it was possible to transfer the videos, there is no media player function on Wii U yet, so there would be no way to play them once the drive is connected.

Wii U promotional shots

© Nintendo



What's using the web browser on it like? One thing I didn't like on the Wii was the browser. Also, having played it, do you feel that it will be a successful console or something that could be put in a cupboard after the novelty wears off? (From Danielle)
The Wii U web browser is definitely a step up from the Wii's browser. Navigating with a stylus on the touchscreen is nice and easy, and the browser is actually pretty fast at loading pages.

There's no Flash support, so you won't have a full web browser experience, and the GamePad isn't capable of multi-touch, so it isn't quite like navigating with a tablet using pinch to zoom and other gestures, but it's a capable browser. As a unique feature, you can press the X button to pull curtains over the television screen, letting you browse the web in private on the GamePad. The Wii U browser won't replace a computer or tablet, but it's easy enough to pause a game and quickly check a website.

As for whether the system will be successful, that's harder to say. In general the Wii U GamePad is a joy to use, and far less a "novelty" than the Wii Remote since it adds features to a conventional game controller rather than replaces one.

There is a solid lineup of games so far, though there is the worry that third-party support could dry up once the next Xbox and PlayStation systems launch if they make it more difficult to port games to Wii U. The fact that it can function as a universal remote for your television is a good indication that the system could become a regular household fixture though.

Nintendo TVii

© Nintendo



How useful is the GamePad as a TV remote? Does it have all the functions you need? Can it control other devices such as an amplifier? Can you record macros on it? (From Cheekyboy18)
The GamePad provides basic control for your television and cable box, though it does not have a way to sync with additional speakers or other devices. It has controls for TV power, TV input, cable power, cable guide, volume control and channel changing both through up/down arrows and a number pad. However, there may be quirks depending on the brand of TV used.

For example, the Samsung television we tested on uses an on-screen overlay to change inputs. Pressing the input button on the GamePad would cycle between the various inputs, but there was no way to make the overlay disappear without using the actual television remote.

We ran into a similar issue with how the cable guide button interacted with our cable provider (in the US), cycling between two different guide views without a way to close the menu. There is no way to record macros for the Wii U GamePad as a universal remote.

Trine 2 - director's cut

[Above: Downloadable title Trine 2]

What is the pricing like for the eShop (in particular Trine 2 and NSMBU)? Is it ridiculous like for the 3DS eShop where it actually costs more for a digital download than it does for a retail copy? (From Rob)
At this time we only have access to a North American Wii U, so we can only comment on the North American eShop. So far, game downloads are identically priced to their retail counterparts, including Nintendo's first-party games. In fact, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is priced slightly cheaper to download than at retail ($54.99 compared to $59.99).

The only non-retail downloadable games at this time are Trine 2, Little Inferno, Nano Assault Neo, Chasing Aurora and Mighty Switch Force Hyper Drive Edition. The pricing for those games is on par with the pricing you'd see for downloadable games on Xbox Live Arcade or PSN. Trine 2 and Little Inferno are the exact same price in the Wii U eShop as they are on Steam.

Thankfully, developers have full control over their own game's pricing in the Wii U eShop, so they have the freedom to lower the price over time or potentially even perform temporary sales.

Gallery - the day one launch lineup for Wii U:

Are the tiles on the WaraWara Plaza changeable, or are they the most popular games, set by Nintendo? – redlight79
First to clarify, WaraWara Plaza is simply what is shown on the TV when the Wii U's main menu is displayed on the GamePad (though the two can swap screens by pressing the X button).

It is difficult to tell exactly what algorithm Nintendo uses for WaraWara Plaza, which displays ten games or apps along with randomly selected posts from their Miiverse communities.

The ten it selects generally represent the more popular Miiverse communities, though it is not always the actual ten most active games or apps. It is not possible to alter which games appear in WaraWara Plaza, and the selected games do not appear to be affected by which games you own or which Miiverse communities you are active in.

Are you looking forward to Wii U? Will you get one when it launches in Europe on November 30? Post a comment below!

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