Wii U: Everything you need to know

It's day one of Wii U season, and the specifics of your new console can be a little confusing. What is this all-important software patch? What games can you download immediately? And how does the console stack up?

Here's everything you need to know about the Wii U, whether you're just getting cozy with your console or you're considering a new addition to your entertainment system.

What's the deal with the Wii U?
The Wii U is Nintendo's latest entry into next-gen. Its big hook is the GamePad, a controller with a six-inch screen and capabilities for multiplayer, video watching and more. Think of it as a mini-system that allows you play away from the console, whether that's in your bathroom or kitchen. Before you can enjoy all the features of your Wii U, including Internet functionality and social services, you'll need to hop online and download a day-one patch from Nintendo.

System:
8GB Basic Set: $299.99
Includes: HDMI cable, remote sensor bar, A/C adapter, GamePad AC adapter, GamePad, Wii U
32GB Deluxe Set: $349.99
Includes: HDMI cable, remote sensor bar, A/C Adapter, GamePad AC adapter, Nintendo Land, GamePad stand, powered GamePad stand, GamePad, Wii U

GamePad:
Battery Life: About three hours.
Charge Time: Two hours, 30 minutes.
Range: Official specs say the GamePad will work properly between 8 inches and 26 feet. We've been able to nearly double the distance.

Our Review:
"It's difficult to figure out exactly what Nintendo is trying to do with the the Wii U. Granted, the enthusiast press has demonstrated an inability to grasp ideas from the company that later turn out to be brilliant in retrospect, such as the Nintendo DS's dual screens or the Wii's motion control. But that doesn't change the fact that few games on the system use the GamePad to do something new with console gaming."

Day-One System Update:
Download Time: Dependent on several factors, including your ISP and location. Ranges so far from 45 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes.
Install Time: About 10 minutes.

What the update includes:
The update is the key to online functionality. You'll need it to access services such as web browsing, the eShop, online gameplay, the Miiverse and Wii backwards compatibility. Once you've got the update, you can assign a Nintendo Network to individual Miis and begin building friend lists, which cap out at 100. You'll also be able to head into the Miiverse, a social hub comlete with community boards. After a Nintendo Network ID is linked to a Mii, you gain access the eShop, where you can download various titles.

What you can do without the update:
The Wii U will still operate as a basic console without the update. You can create Miis, configure your TV settings, and play games locally. You'll have to get the system set up, patch or no patch, and remember that you'll need at least two power outlets for the Wii U and its GamePad charger.

Transferring Wii data to the Wii U:
If you have Wii saves you'd like to port over, you'll want to pick up an SD card. Stick that into the Wii U to get started with the console's Wii System Transfer Application, then insert the same card into your Wii. Download and transfer application from the Wii Shop channel, and insert the card back into your Wii U. Once the data has been moved to the Wii U, it will wipe itself from the card.

Transferable Data:
Wii Software save data
WiiWare and save data
Virtual Console titles and save data
Add-on content
Wii Points
Wii Shop Channel activity
Mii characters

Number of Games on eShop:
Total Games: 23
Notable Titles: Assassin's Creed 3, Darksiders 2, ZombiU, Nano Assault Neo, Trine 2: Director's Cut

Launch Day Titles:
Assassin's Creed 3 (Ubisoft)
Darksiders 2 (THQ)
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (Disney Interactive)
ESPN Sports Connection (Ubisoft)
FIFA Soccer 13 (EA)
Game Party Champions (WB Games)
Just Dance 4 (Ubisoft)
Madden NFL 13 (EA)
New Super Mario Bros. U (Nintendo)
Nintendo Land (Nintendo)
Rabbids Land (Ubisoft)
Scribblenauts Unlimited (5th Cell)
Sing Party (Nintendo)
Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed (Sega)
Tank! Tank! Tank! (Namco)
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 (Ubisoft)
ZombiU (Ubisoft)

Wii U eShop lets indie developers set their own price and sales times, says Trine 2 developer

Nintendo's Wii U eShop offers an indie-friendly system that allows independent developers to set their own prices and determine when they have sales, Trine 2: Director's Cut developer Frozenbyte's marketing manager Mikael Haveri told IGN.

According to Haveri, the eShop operates in a similar manner to both Steam and Apple's Appstore, offering developers a level of freedom when distributing their games digitally.

"That's what we love about the new eShop," said Haveri. "We have the power to price our products as we please, with just some basic guidelines from the big guys. The step to this...

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Wii U Nintendo Network IDs are tied to the consoles on which they are made

Nintendo Network IDs are tied to the console on which they are made, according to Nintendo's support page as discovered by Kotaku.

On the publisher's support page, the following Q&A is listed:

Q. Can I Log Into My Nintendo Network Account on a Different Console?
A: No, you cannot. A Nintendo Network Account can only be used on the console where it was created. In the future, you will be able to use your Nintendo Network Account with future Nintendo consoles and other devices, such as PC's.

This means that unlike the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 where user accounts can be accessed from...

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Testing the Wii U's new online features, from Miiverse to the eShop

After updating the system, users can assign a Nintendo Network ID to their individual Mii. Multiple Miis can be assigned to a console, with each Mii getting its own Nintendo Network ID. Each ID has its own friends list and purchasing data associated with it. There is, however, no "achievements" system associated with the Network ID, which means system-wide achievements are not currently supported.

Once the Nintendo Network ID is linked with their Mii, users can access the eShop.

The eShop allows users to download full retail games, like New Super Mario Bros. U and Assassin's Creed 3, as...

Wii U eShop launches with day-one firmware update

Nintendo's Wii U eShop launched today with the console's first firmware update.

The eShop front page works similar to the home page for Apple's iTunes, displaying featured selections broken into several different categories. Games available for purchase are displayed at the immediate top, with Games by Category, Featured Games, Videos on Demand and Coming Soon sections listed beneath.

The eShop includes a Charts section for viewing the Wii U's most popular current titles. Users can choose to view graphics tabulating recent best sellers, all best sellers to date, recent ratings, all user...

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Wii U will have a Ubisoft Uplay app

Earlier this month, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said that the company plans to support the Wii U's launch with both online sales of its games and Uplay support. But he declined to detail how that experience would work.

According to the instruction manual for Ubisoft's ZombiU, Uplay will grant players exclusive rewards, help them if they get stuck in a game and deliver updated news. Players can access Ubisoft's Uplay network either through the website, or through a Uplay app that will be made available on Nintendo's eShop.

"You can also access Uplay by downloading the Uplay Application via...

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Wii U eShop launch list: 23 digital titles including New Super Mario, Assassin's Creed 3 and indies

Nintendo's Wii U launched today with 23 titles available for purchase online via the Nintendo eShop.

Pricing for the digital-only versions of titles is identical to their pricing at retail:

  • Assassin's Creed 3 - $59.99
  • Darksiders 2 - $59.99
  • Epic Mickey 2 - $59.99
  • ESPN Sports Connection - $49.99
  • FIFA 13 - $59.99
  • Game Party Champions - $49.99
  • Just Dance 4 - $49.99
  • Madden NFL 13 - $59.99
  • New Super Mario Bros. U - $59.99
  • Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge - $59.99
  • Nintendo Land - $59.99
  • Rabbids Lands - $49.99
  • Scribblenauts Unlimited - $59.99
  • Sing Party - $49.99
  • Sonic and...

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The Wii U starts out as an offline machine, what you can do before the patch

The Wii U will be an offline machine when it leaves stores the day Nintendo's new console goes on sale.

All Wii U consoles will require downloading a patch to add support for a laundry list of online, gaming and entertainment services. That patch is about 5 gigs. According to early reports, including our own two tests, the patch takes from 45 minutes to an hour and 45 minutes to download and maybe ten minutes to install. Of course the time will vary depending on any number of variables, including connection speeds and the number of people try to download the patch.

The services...

The surprising (mundane) tech behind the Wii U's magical GamePad

The most magical element of Nintendo's new Wii U console is powered by a relatively mundane piece of technology.

Second-screen gaming, the ability to view full maps, menus or even play an entire game on the 6-inch screen built into the WIi U's GamePad, is made possible by a special form of Wi-Fi.

The technology, co-developed by Nintendo and wireless and broadband communications giant Broadcom, marries run-of-the-mill Wi-Fi with a powerful bit of proprietary software to create a two-way stream of low-latency, high-definition video and controls between the Wii U and its innovative GamePad.

...

Nintendo outlines Wii to Wii U data transfer process

The process for transferring data from a Wii to a Wii U is outlined in the console's instruction manual, which Polygon received today alongside a review unit of Nintendo's new hardware.

The process is somewhat similar to the transfer process between Nintendo's handheld devices, but requires a couple of extra steps. First, users must insert an SD card into the Wii U to initiate the process using the console's Wii System Transfer application. After starting the process, the user must put the same SD card into their Wii, and download another transfer application from the Wii Shop Channel....

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