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I bought my Daughter the Wii U Premium Pack for Xmas 2014, it came with Mario Kart 8 which I review elsewhere.
The console was well packaged on purchase with an attractive, compact box but more importantly a box which offered ample protection from everyday perils whilst transporting it home.
I made the mistake of wrapping it up straight away and presenting it to my Daughter on Christmas Morning... this inevitably led to frustrations later in the day as the console needed a couple of hours to set up, most notably due to the system update which was required.
The Premium pack comes in glossy black and it looks incredibly sleek, the console itself is not much bigger than an old style external hard drive for a PC - it's about half the size of my BluRay player. The console has a power and eject button on the front and all wires connect at the back so it's very unobtrusive.
Connecting the sensor bar, HDMI lead and power to the back is a breeze thanks to the colour coded ports and the fact they're all different shapes and sizes meaning only one lead will fit into each port. All power leads are of ample length so the console can be kept away from the TV if required, though bear in mind the sensor bar needs to be either above or below the TV.
The Console also comes with a gamepad and wii remote plus, the former has a charging dock which it can be kept in and can also be charged external to the dock by removing the power lead and plugging it directly in. When connected to the power you can get about 10 to 12 feet from the power outlet so in turn about 10 feet from the TV (assuming the power is behind the TV), this feels like an ok distance to sit without fear of square eyes if playing whilst charging. Both the Gamepad and Remote need pairing with the console but thats a simple matter of pressing a couple of buttons and the whole set-up process is outlines well on the TV & Gamepad.
Once set up the menu can be a little daunting at first, however once you're accustomed to it its an excellent interface which means you can navigate to pretty much anything you might need relatively quickly.
As well as playing games with a physical disk you can download games... the 32gb of disk space is limited only if you plan to purchase full first party games (I don't recommend you do as the Nintendo eShop tends to be overpriced compared to other internet purchasing options). There are thousands of third party games available which do not compromise disk space and retail at anything from £0.99 to £15.00.
The games offered with the console are generally excellent, however there is still a limited number of games nearly two years from release, the only disappointment with an otherwise brilliant machine.
Having heard a lot about the Nintendo Wii U console I was a little skeptical about the idea of using a control pad which had a screen on it as I was concerned about the controllers weight and that the screen would be a distraction (unfortunately with fewer gaming retailers that previous years it is much harder to try a console in stores before you buy one too) but after looking into the console a bit I decided it was time to give it a try and I have been very impressed with just how well the design actually works.
First of all the control pad - this is a well proportioned controller which is still very easy to use. The screen adds an extra dimension to the possibilities of gameplay but thankfully does not lead to a distracting experience and the biggest worry for me about the additional weight incurred is not a worry at all as the control pad is very light.
The console itself is able to run Wii U games meaning that you finally have Nintendo games in a high definition experience and thankfully these are not simply ported over from another console. The games have been designed for the console meaning that you have fantastic bright and inviting environments in games like Mario, Donkey Kong, Lego, etc but where games need to be dark they are able to be done perfectly well too. Thankfully the console also plays Wii games and you have the ability to transfer your save data from the Wii to the Wii U.
For me this console is something yet to see its best games released as the numbers of people purchasing the console remain low but when you do try the console and the games out there currently you find great things like Lego City Undercover where the control pad is used for all control aspects and the screen is used for a number of different things including as a communications device, to search for footprints on the floor, to look around for hidden items, etc which is something you simply can''t have in any other gaming console at the moment.
There are a number of games where the screen is not required and so in this instance you can shut the screen off or even use the screen on the control pad rather than have to use the television which enables for someone not playing the console to be able to use the television in the meantime.
Personally I absolutely love this console and play this over the XBox360 or PS3. My wife who is not a big gamer has recently become less enthused by games as they become too realistic as it involves too much blood and gore but the Wii U has great games that don''t need this meaning it is also great for younger gamers.
It was a few months ago I pre ordered the new pikmin 3 game with-ought thinking that I wouldn't have an actual console to play it on. I wasn't overly bothered though as I was just gonna wait until Christmas or if I cam into money in the upcoming months and then purchase it. However my boyfriend wasn't having any of it he pretty much persuaded me that we needed to get it.
Though since I am currently unemployed it wasnt as if I had a spare £115 laying around the house as we usually split the bill for a console since it will be situated in the living room for everyone to use. Instead we decided to look in CEX for a second hand one and after trading in maybe 4 games each we managed to get the ZombieU edition second hand for £140 instead of £240/£250 which was definitely worth the effort especially since he needed a game for him to play and we were never going to play those games again anyway, though I would always check what CEX are gonna offer you before you take stuff down to them as you want to make sure its worth your while, the old Wii games I had were paper mario, blue ocean, and a few Pokemon DS games worth around £8-£10 in vouchers each which was pretty good but trading for cash is substantially less.
What comes in the box
What I was really confused by was the fact that you pretty much get a nice new revamped Wii with the package which I didnt think was terribly well explained in television advertisements. I did think that for all the money you were putting into it that you were only getting the new hand held device so I was pleasantly surprised but I can't understand why they don't sell the hand held bit just on its own to work with a Wii that you already have. It just seems like you are spending £100 extra on something you could have done with ought if you could have just downloaded a big update for your current Wii especially for parents that may be buying the whole box brand new for their kids that may be on a budget for Christmas.
Other things that coming the box are wires for connecting the console to the TV and electric source, a plastic stand for the WiiU hand held system and a mains charger for the Wii U handheld device. I do kind of like the fact you can recharge the Wii U at the wall instead of using batteries as you don't have to nip down to the shop every time it runs out of juice and don't have to risk battery corrosion which ate one one of my Wii motes making it unusable.
Assembling all of this wasn't the most difficult but you do have to charge up certain things and set things up in a specific order otherwise you have to keep fiddling with things, on screen settings also took about half an hour to set up too things like internet, parental and personal settings before you can actually start playing a game which if I remember correctly was much more tedious than the original Wii. Maybe expect 1-3 hours for total set up depending on whether or not you are connecting to a wireless source.
The main console is a lot smaller and takes up less space than an XBOX 360 and Playstation 3 and is much lighter too.
We have five games so far pikmin 3, Batman, Rayman, zombieU and wonderful101 and the hand held device acts somewhat like an in game tablet for your characters in the game as well as your controller. For instance in Pikmin 3 you can bring up a little map on the screen or go on video chat with your other crew members in cut scenes as well as keeping track of any Pikmin you may have lost along the way. In batman the video screen is your main way of keeping in contact with Alfred and instead of Alfred talking through the TV he talks through the hand held in a walkie talkie kind of manner. In Rayman it is somewhat different as you play with different characters on different levels game play shifts from the TV screen to a touch screen on the hand held device in which you have to slide things and poke the eyes out of enemies or even tickle baddies so its very interactive in that instance.
The screen however can get a bit grubby especially if you have the black version however. Also as much as I like the games that we do I have I think that the market is quite sparse there really aren't enough games out for this console though this will hopefully improve over the Christmas period with the Mario game being released.
Some other features that should work nicely over the Christmas period is the fact that games like Pikmin three can actually be downloaded into the handheld and played through the small screen, you may not have as many features but it is still highly playable and should result in less Christmas rows if mum and dad want to watch the Queens speech and the kid wants to keep playing, you just need to make sure the console remains on and that the hand held device is in the same room as the main console. There are multiplayer features in which you can either connect to others online or connect your old Wii motes to your main console so you can have up to five players on these modes providing you have enough Wii motes.
It can link with some of your 3DS games too though, because of the Pikmin 3 game I found a new house in the show house area of my animal crossing game which was a nice surprise, though this wasn't the most obvious feature I think it would be nice if Nintendo made this more clear and maybe gave you access to a more obvious list of all the little details that they have included.
You can still play all your old Wii games on it too though but some of the features will be limited.
So is it worth the money?
I would avoid buying this at full cost if you can help it as the amount of games out for it aren't all that numerous and while spending almost £300+ once you include the games and accessories you don't want it to be gathering dust in the corner after a few weeks when the family has lost interest in it. Though it is probably still is the least expensive games console around so you can't go wrong from that side of things.
At the same time it may be better value to purchase the new 2 or 3DS XLs since they seem to share a lot of the same games plus a lot more of their own while still having a dual screen. At least in the mean time until more games appear on the WiiU. Plus the new DSs are backwards compatible with old DS games too
I have owned this console now for a week. I would have purchased much sooner (I actually wanted it on launch day) but a new house and limited funds meant I had to wait until now.
I opted for the Premium pack because it only worked out £60 more expensive than the regular console (the regular console also has 8gb of memory and this one has 32gb).
The Premium console is also black rather than white like the original release Wii console - this looks sleek and blends in well if you own a big HD TV and Blu Ray player etc, I think a white one would stand out too much amongst the black technology surrounding it!
Finally, what makes the Premium version different is that it includes the Nintendoland game - this on its own is around £40 to buy new so is a great added bonus.
Unboxing: The console itself is not sealed in the box (this is the same with all Nintendo products) so I would recommend if you purchase this from a retailer on the high street that you just check the contents before leaving the shop in case it is missing or damaged.
In the box you will find the console itself, one Wii U control pad, HDMI Cable, power adaptors for the Pad and Console, stands and a docking station for the pad.
Console Set up: This was very simple to do, I know a thing or two about technology but anyone could set this up - the console plugs into your HD TV via the HDMI cable, you plug in the power adaptor for the console, then the adaptor for the Pad. The pad has its own internal battery so by plugging it in and using from the mains you are also charging it at the same time.
When you switch on the console will update, it is important NOT to turn this off or interrupt the download process or it could mess up the console - I would suggest starting this early in the day in case the download takes too long and goes into the night!
After the update you set up the usual things including a Mii, you can also set up a Nintendo account - this takes no time at all and has to be done if you want to use some functions of the console.
First 24 hours: For my first 24 hours on the console I didnt actually play a game! I was fascinated by the new functions that you couldn't get on a normal Wii. First, LoveFilm and Netflix are both accessible through the Wii U. I am a big Movie and Television fan and my DVD collection is far too large! I have a LoveFilm account now which is only £4.99 a month for unlimited streaming TV and Movies (the database and selection is massive). Using the app on the Wii U, you can stream it in full HD through the console to your TV - this is a great feature.
There is a free download available on the Nintendo Shop which is basically an advanced version of Google Street View. Now this is well worth the download - utilising the new Wii Pad you can basically roam around everywhere in the world as if you were actually there! The motion control on the pad means if you move it to the left and the right, the camera will pan that way too. You can also take photographs of whatever you see.
Browser - there is a web browser which is very simple and easy to use. If you are a parent of a child using this console, dont worry, there are some fantastic parental controls to stop children from being exposed to the wrong kind of content.
Wii U Pad - the supplied control pad is about tablet sized and can actually be used that way too. It is rechargable and you can get a good few hours out of a full battery. You are supplied with an AC Adaptor and dock for the pad so you can charge it and use it wirelessly.
The pad is very clever, it has the usual joy stick controls and 4 buttons on the right hand side as well as your up/down/left/right control on the left side. There is a home button which can instantly take you to the Wii Main Menu from whatever you are doing, a power button which can power down your console and a TV button (you can set up the pad to be used as your TV remote!)
The pad is highly sensitive and gives some great unique features when playing games. For example you can point the pad at the screen to see straight ahead or move it around to change what the character in the game is seeing.
The pad is the main innovative feature of the Wii U - The Wii was unique in the way it revolutionised how we played games with the sensor bar (Sony and Microsoft then followed suit with their Move and Kinect respectively). A lot of consoles are the same as their precessors but just offer better graphics and more online interative features - Nintendo genuinely changes the way people play games and the Wii U is no different.
The pad also has a camera and microphone and can be used for making Skype calls!
Nintendoland - The game that comes supplied contains 12 mini-games that can be played solo or as a team (up to 5 players). Many of these have been designed to really show off what the new Wii Pad can do and are an excellent way to get used to using it for the first time. The great thing about the game is that it uses some of Nintendo's most successful franchise characters in almost all of the games. A breakdown of the games and categories follows:
Team (games you work together as a group to accomplish) - Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, Pikmin Adventure and Metroid Blast. These are all 1-5 players.
Competitive (games where one person has the Wii Pad and the rest of the players using the Wii Remotes compete against each other) - Mario Chase, Luigi's Ghost Mansion and Animal Crossing: Sweet Day. These are all 2-5 players.
Solo (games played with 1 player only) - Yoshi's fruit cart, Octopus Dance, Donkey Kong's Crash Course, Takmaru's Ninja Castle, Captain Falcon's Twister Race and Balloon Trip Breeze.
Sensor Bar - Like the Wii the console uses a sensor bar positioned on top of the TV to interact with the pad and let the console know where you are positioned. The console is supplied with one of these but the sensor bar from the old Wii also works fine (I just left mine inside the box unwrapped as a spare in case it ever breaks).
Cross Compatability - Another great thing about the Wii U is that you can use the old Wii remotes and nunchucks to play Wii U games and use with the console in general (to navigate through menus etc), this is great for recycling and saves you having to buy any extra remotes if you are the owner of an old Wii.
You can play old Wii games on this console too using the old Wii Remotes/Nunchucks, a feature that Microsoft and Sony may not be including with their new consoles.
Nintendo E-Shop - If you have used the Wii version of this shop, the first thing you notice is how different it is and what potential this has for future releases. You can purchase almost every Wii U title on the shop (full version of the game as if you were buying a disc) and download onto the console memory. Once purchased it is assigned to your Nintendo account so you dont have to worry about losing it if you change consoles (also means you can login at a friends house and play the game).
Many of the games also come with trailers, videos and actual playable demos to try about before downloading the full version.
There are many games downloadable from retro consoles or small games made especially for the Wii U (prices range from FREE to around £12.99).
The most popular Virtual Console games are also available on the shop - the likes of Super Mario World, Pac Man and Metroid (currently on offer at 30p!!) are £3-£5.
U Play is a free download which acts a lot like Microsoft's X Box Live achievements - it tracks your progress in games and rewards you with points for completing certain aspects of a game. It also rewards you with extra in game features like characters and maps!
Since its launch, sales of the console have been quite low and the videogames market in general has suffered. As of March 31st it has sold over 3 million units compared with the Wii's near 100 million. My personal believe is that a lot of people are waiting for the release of information about the PS4 or Xbox One console. (It should be noted that UK Wii U sales jumped 400% after the presentation about the Xbox One, proof that people were waiting to hear about more information before deciding on purchase).
The future is bright for this console, a lot of new games are lined up including the eagerly awaited Super Mario Galaxy 3 and once more is known about the new Sony/Microsoft consoles I am sure a lot of games developers will choose to produce Wii U exclusive games to use the unique interactive gaming pad functions.