By Justin Graham / November 26th, 2012
So a little thing called the Wii U recently came out in North America. You might have heard of it. It’s the one with the weird tablet controller. Sound familiar?
If you’re the sort that visits this site regularly, then yeah, it almost certainly does. When the North American launch date of November 18th rolled around, a number of the staff here at Oprainfall headed out to either pick up our preorders or find a store that still had them in stock. And now that we’ve had some time to get acquainted with our new consoles and games, we’re here to share our thoughts.
To start with my own personal experience, the basic console set-up was very simple. It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that Nintendo has set-up documentation down to a science at this point. The process of connecting the console to the TV, powering it on, syncing the Gamepad controller and getting through those initial steps take only a scant few minutes.
The only hang-up I had was when I tried to turn the console on for the first time. I pressed the Power button and nothing happened. I held the button in. Still nothing. I pressed it gently. Firmly. I tapped. I did everything short of giving it a Swedish massage, and it wouldn’t power on. I thought to myself, did my luck fail me? Had I bought a dead console? Was I going to have to call support? Surely I wasn’t one of those morons that forgot to plug it in.
I can safely tell you that I am indeed one of those morons. Fortunately, I learned my mistake before I even started to look up the support number.
The Internet: Hurry Up and Wait!
Once I mastered the art of plugging cords into outlets, powered the Wii U on and made it through the initial steps, the next phase involved connecting the console to the internet. If you’ve connected a 3DS or any other modern gaming device to your router, this won’t be a problem. Just be prepared for the long wait to follow, as the firmware update comes next. As has been widely reported, it takes a while. Mileage will vary based on individual connection speeds, but for me, it took a little over an hour for the update to complete downloading and and begin installing. Though, I did find that a good a time as any to pour through the console’s manual.
The ID and Mii
After the firmware update was in place, it came time to set up the more personal aspects; creating a Mii and a Nintendo Network ID. There are several options for setting up a Mii, and I chose to import mine from my 3DS. I hit my second, very, very minor snag here, as I had forgotten to set my 3DS Mii to allow for sharing. But once I got that out of the way and followed the on-screen instructions, voila! Mii in HD(ii)!
And for those of you who hate Friend Codes, your long video gaming nightmare is over. The Nintendo Network ID creation process is simple, with just a standard set of profile creation questions. The only external step to the process is receiving a confirmation e-mail and clicking the provided link.
After everything was set up and I was able to use the Wii U properly for the first time, I chose to perform the Wii system transfer. And though Nintendo does a good job of documenting the steps, there’s unfortunately no getting around the fact that it is a cumbersome procedure. However, it’s a procedure that only needs to be done once. As long as you have an SD Card with at least 512MB of free space and at least one Wii Remote at the ready, you should be good to go. To be safe, I used a fresh, empty SD card. I also had Wii Remotes synced to both the Wii and the Wii U, and each console was also connected to a sensor bar to minimize the amount of swapping I’d need to do.
After priming the SD card in the Wii U and downloading the necessary tool from the Wii’s Shop Channel onto the Wii, I was ready to begin the transfer. And the process couldn’t be more adorable. While it is, admittedly, just an animation to pass the time while the data is laboriously transferred to the SD card, the image of Pikmin packing up my data and carrying it through a series of corridors to a Wii U-bound rocket gave me a smile. One that continued when part two of the sequence played out after I moved the SD card back to the Wii U and completed the transfer process.
The Wii transfer tool is also very informative. It lets the user know exactly what files can and can’t be transferred (in my case, only a few unneeded Wii channels couldn’t make the trip). It also transfers all system level information over, including your Wii Shop download history and your current Wii Points total. If there are any games that you have stored on a separate SD card or had deleted in the past and want to download again, you should be able to do so without making a second purchase. Unfortunately, there are no means to transfer games that had been saved to an SD card directly, so any games that were not on the Wii when the transfer commences will need to be downloaded separately, after the transfer is complete.
The final bit of set-up was adding external storage, which was a snap. I prepared ahead of time by getting a 2TB external drive with its own power adapter. When I plugged it in, I received a warning stating that external storage should only be connected or disconnected when the console is powered off, but it let me format the drive without further hassle and it’s all set to go.
The Wii U’s social network, Miiverse, takes a little getting used to. Part of this was due to the fact that very little about it seemed to function correctly on day one, but since then, I’ve had a fairly smooth time of it. Each game has an established community section, making it easy to find people to talk with about the games I’m playing. A lot of users have been taking advantage of the handwriting note option to draw surprisingly detailed sketches, as well. Once my Friend List was established, I was able to start adding friends very easily, and not a single alphanumeric code exchange was required. Miiverse has some serious potential as a service. I see the promise in it and hope it continues to grow.
So How ‘Bout That Controller?
To finish my initial thoughts on the console, the Gamepad is a great device. It’s deceptively light, yet has elements like rumble, a gyroscope, and an internal speaker with volume control in addition to the big screen in the middle that everyone’s talking about. I’ve played a few games that make use of its functions to varying degrees. So far, I’ve played at least some portion of Nintendo Land, Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper, and Tekken Tag Tournament 2, and each makes use of the Gamepad in ways ranging from extensive (Nintendo Land) to almost no extra features at all (Warriors Orochi 3). But even the simplest console port is able to demonstrate capabilities of the hardware that simply can’t be replicated on the other current consoles.
I could ramble on longer, but instead, let’s hear thoughts from some of Oprainfall’s other early adopters!
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