Wii U: The Secret Powerhouse

Wii U

Since the release of Wii U back in 2012, the console has been struggling with sales, game developers, and tepid reviews. While some of the issues stem from the game developers themselves, the entertainment system has just recently outsold the Xbox 360 in its home country of Japan.  Additionally, reviews are beginning to look much more favorable, with a number of reviewers indicating that the Wii U is not underpowered as previously reported but is, in fact, a secret powerhouse.

Consumers are currently buying between 8,000 and 9,000 Wii U consoles each week in Japan.  These totals far outperform Microsoft’s system which sells only a couple of hundred units each week.  With lifetime sales currently only reaching 1.6 million units, the Wii U still has some catching up to do to outperform the lifetime sales of either the PlayStation Vita at 2.5 million or the powerhouse sales from the PlayStation 3 at 9.8 million consoles sold.

The Wii U is not just looking toward powerhouse sales numbers; the unit also packs quite a secret punch.  While previous reviews of the system indicated that the unit was underpowered and equivalent to last-gen hardware, Retro Studios, has recently given credit to the powerful capabilities it hides. Until now, the view has been of a machine with lackluster performance.  The CEO of GameSpot, Michael Kelbaugh, disagrees with this assessment.  He says the console is not only more than adequate but is a powerhouse.

A team at GameSpot worked on the Wii U making the game Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze.  Kelbaugh indicates that the team had a good time cracking the system and learning HD techniques.  They discovered the Wii U had much more horsepower than expected and that the artists could basically go crazy and make as many polygons as they wanted.

The Wii U will most likely continue to have issues with third party publishers. Airtight Games and Square Enix considered doing a version for the Wii U of Murdered: Soul Suspect but decided that it was not worth their effort since they simply couldn’t make do with a lazy shovelware port. Other companies such as Retro Studios agree that they are not done working with the Wii U and hint of a new Metroid game which may shortly appear.

Other titles to look for include Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.  This game follows through with the storyline from the Wii title Donkey Kong Country Returns while attempting to improve on it.  Tropical Freeze will showcase some a new playable character along with sharp HD graphics, and what is hailed as the most important aspect, Viking penguins.  2014 will also bring out two new installments of the ever popular Mario-related series.  May should see the release of Mario Kart 8 which will not only have the classic features expected but will introduce some new items such as anti-gravity karts.  Additionally, though with no date currently set for release, the Wii U version of Super Smash Bros. will be making an appearance.  Of course, with the new version, new fighters such as Mega Man and the Wii Fit Trainer will appear.

Many other games, including a new Yoshi solo game will be released in 2014.  Those interested in RPGs should keep watch for X which will be released from Monolith Soft.  There will be a plethora of downloadable exclusive titles such as Scram Kitty and his Buddy on Rails and Tengami.  There has also been an announcement from the president of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, that this year there will be an update to the virtual console which will add titles from their substantial back catalog of DS games.

In the face of poor past reviews and determinations that the Wii U just does not have any power behind it, it appears that the year 2014 may be the year in which the negative assessors are proven wrong.  From current reviews and analysts, the new consensus is that the Wii U packs a previously unknown and rather secret powerhouse.

By Dee Mueller

Nintendo Insider
Gaming Blend
The Signal

12 Responses to "Wii U: The Secret Powerhouse"

  1. RonicStylez   March 3, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    I agree with Jaline Williams. and i gotta say this is exactly what happened with the wii. Up till its end it was a formidable opponent for the still up and kicking 306 and PS3. And to top it off the Wii U is backwards compatible ( which was the deal killer for me getting a PS4). So those people who do have a wii don’t have to buy new controllers or buy extra cords (my tv is old HDMI and the wii u did not come with the cords needed so i used my old wii cords). the wii U even have the Wii’s OS built in it so you can access your wiiware games.

    Seriously though these companies and their retarded no backwards compatibility ticks me off.

  2. al3X   March 3, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Wii U has sold 5.1 Million units and not 1.6.

    • CrazyMtMan   March 5, 2014 at 2:44 pm

      The numbers in this article are apparently referencing Japanese sales only, not worldwide sales. The author did not clarify this little fact very well. They mention between 8k and 9k units sold a week in Japan and after that they leave it up to you to make the rest of the connection.

  3. WoodenSaucer   March 3, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Just a few issues with your article.
    – It’s already been mentioned that Retro Studios developed Tropical Freeze, not GameSpot
    – Retro Studios is a Nintendo first party game studio. So of course they’re not done working on the Wii U.
    – Iwata announced Gameboy Advanced games for the virtual console, not DS games.

    But it was nice to have a positive article about the Wii U.

  4. metaldave   March 3, 2014 at 10:19 am

    What an awful article, you give Gamespot credit for developing this game? WTF?

  5. Ian   March 3, 2014 at 9:57 am

    More powerful then the ps4 LMAO!

    • Eli   March 5, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      No one said that, moron

  6. Ryan   March 3, 2014 at 5:56 am

    “A team at GameSpot worked on the Wii U making the game Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze.”

    Actually it was Retro Studios……

  7. MCOD1999   March 2, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    3rd parties are the real dic*s now. They all assumed the WII U was not next-gen! Well now we find it may be more powerful than PS4! 3rp party developers have to take the most blame for the poor sales of wii u! I’m looking at you EA!

    • Dante   March 3, 2014 at 10:41 am

      While the Wii U may be more powerful that initially thought, it is nowhere near powerful enough to compete with it’s supposed competition, the PS4 and Xbox One.

      I say supposed, because this newfound power just puts it ahead of it’s actual generational competition – the PS3 and Xbox 360.

      The Wii U is a fantastically powerful machine – if you consider it to be Last Gen.

      If you consider it to be this gen however…

      Not even close to the power of a PS4 or Xbox One.

      • Jaline Williams   March 3, 2014 at 4:01 pm

        The difference is Dante that PS4 and XBOne are nowhere near *using* the amount of “power” that they have. PS4 and XBOne have games that are barely above what PS3/XB360 could do at the moment. Personally I do consider the Wii U to be previous generation, it is not the same generation as PS4/XBO, but at the same time, PS4/XBO will take a few years before their supposed “power” is actually able to be utilized well.

        Wii U can easily go up from where it is at the moment, and I wouldn’t be surprised by a similar system from Nintendo in about 3-5 years that we’ll call Nintendo’s ‘real’ competition to PS4/XBO, which would place it at a point in the lifespan of PS4/XBO where it’ll be “on top” in terms of “power” for quite a few years before Sony/MS decide to make a “future gen” console.

        For the moment Sony/MS are simply selling people cheap PCs that are unable to do most things that a good PC can do. The actual components in PS4/XBO are of lower “power” than my PC I built back at the end of 2012.

        • Stal Lion   March 3, 2014 at 4:53 pm

          Difference is PS4/Xbox1 are base on PC architecture (CPU for coding and GPU for graphics) which has been tapped for long time and may already been on extreme. WII U has different architecture CPU + GPGPU(General-purpose computing on graphics processing units). It’s GPU also executes coding with super fast bandwidth with SIMD. So software being created in PS3/Xbox360 era aren’t efficiently ported to WII U. PS4/Xbox1 games are developed the same way as before. here is nice detail GPGPU. http://www2.latech.edu/~box/hapc/intro_gpu.pdf
          or quick video demonstration http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-P28LKWTzrI

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