The Wii U: An Underrated Gem or a Forgotten Relic?


The Wii U, released in late 2012, occupies a curious space in Nintendo’s history. It was the successor to the wildly popular Wii, introducing the company’s first foray into HD gaming with a unique gamepad controller. However, commercially, the Wii U fell short, overshadowed by the juggernauts of the eighth generation – the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

This article delves into the world of the Wii U, exploring its features, iconic games, and the reasons behind its mixed legacy. Whether you’re a curious gamer or a Wii U veteran, this comprehensive guide will shed light on this intriguing console.

A New Chapter: From Wii to Wii U

The Wii, launched in 2006, revolutionized gaming with its motion controls. The Wii U, aiming to build upon that success, offered a more traditional gamepad alongside its innovative Wii U GamePad. This tablet-like controller boasted a touchscreen, gyroscope, and microphone, opening doors for unique gameplay experiences.

The Wii U wasn’t just about the controller, though. It was Nintendo’s first console to support HD graphics, a significant leap from the Wii’s standard definition visuals. Internally, it packed a tri-core IBM PowerPC CPU and 2 GB of DDR3 RAM, putting it in line with its contemporaries.

The Wii U

The Wii U GamePad: A Double-Edged Sword

The Wii U GamePad was the console’s centerpiece. Games could utilize the touchscreen for inventory management, off-TV play, or even displaying different perspectives. Titles like “Super Mario Maker” and “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” (which received a port later) showcased the gamepad’s potential.

However, the gamepad wasn’t without its drawbacks. Its bulky design could be cumbersome during extended play sessions, and the battery life wasn’t stellar. Additionally, not all games effectively utilized the gamepad’s features, leading to a sense of underutilization for some.

A Library of Unique Experiences

Despite its commercial struggles, the Wii U boasted a library brimming with fantastic games. Here are some highlights:

Super Mario Maker: Unleash your creativity by building and sharing your own Mario side-scrolling levels.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (port): Explore a vast and breathtaking open world in this critically acclaimed adventure.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U: The quintessential party game returns with a massive roster of fighters and online versus modes.

Mario Kart 8: Race your friends online or locally in this vibrant and fast-paced kart racing experience.

Splatoon: A unique team-based shooter where players take control of squid-like characters and splat paint to claim territory.

These are just a few examples. The Wii U offered a diverse library, catering to fans of platformers, action-adventures, party games, and more.

The Wii U’s Downfall: A Case of Misunderstood Innovation?

The Wii U’s commercial failure can be attributed to several factors. The marketing campaign was widely considered confusing, failing to clearly communicate the console’s unique features and target audience.

The launch lineup was relatively weak, lacking the same powerhouse titles that propelled the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to early success. Additionally, the high price point at launch deterred some potential buyers.

However, the biggest hurdle might have been the gamepad itself. While innovative, it was a significant departure from the Wii’s motion controls, alienating some core Nintendo fans. Additionally, developers often struggled to integrate the gamepad seamlessly, leading to uneven experiences.

A Legacy of Missed Potential?

Despite its commercial struggles, the Wii U holds a special place in the hearts of its dedicated fanbase. The innovative gamepad, coupled with a library of fantastic games, created a unique gaming experience.

The influence of the Wii U can be seen in the Nintendo Switch, which successfully merges console and portable gaming with detachable Joy-Con controllers. The Switch’s success suggests that perhaps the core ideas behind the Wii U were ahead of their time.

Is the Wii U Worth It in 2024?

Whether the Wii U is worth it in 2024 depends on your gaming preferences and budget. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide:


Affordable: With its discontinued status, the Wii U and its games can be found at significantly cheaper prices compared to current-gen consoles.

Unique library: The Wii U boasts a collection of fantastic games you won’t find anywhere else, offering a distinct gaming experience.

Backwards compatibility: Enjoy a large selection of Wii games on the Wii U, expanding your gaming library.


What games can I play on the Wii U?

The Wii U boasts a library of its own games alongside Wii titles. However, the Wii U is region-locked, so ensure you buy games compatible with your console’s region.

Can I play Wii U games on the GamePad alone?

Not all Wii U games support exclusive GamePad play. Some games offer Off-TV Play, letting you continue the action on the GamePad while your TV is occupied. Websites like Wikipedia: have lists of Wii U games playable on the GamePad.

Is the Wii U powerful?

Compared to the PS4 and Xbox One released around the same time, the Wii U wasn’t the graphical powerhouse. However, it made up for it with unique features and a focus on innovative gameplay.

Does the Wii U have online features?

Yes, the Wii U had online functionalities like online multiplayer and the Nintendo eShop for downloading games. However, these online services are no longer supported by Nintendo as of 2023.

Can I use a bigger storage device with my Wii U?

The Wii U has limited internal storage. Thankfully, you can expand it with a USB flash drive or a compatible external hard drive (up to 2 TB with a later system update).

Is the Wii U worth buying in 2024?

The Wii U offers a collection of unique games you won’t find elsewhere. However, consider factors like finding used games and the lack of online features before making a purchase.

What are some must-have Wii U games?

There are many gems! Super Mario Maker, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and Mario Kart 8 are just a few fan favorites.

How do I connect the Wii U to the internet?

The Wii U supports Wi-Fi connections. Look for instructions in the console’s settings menu or online resources from Nintendo.

What are the different Wii U models?

The Wii U came in two main variations: the basic model and the Deluxe Edition with more storage space. There were also limited edition bundles with specific game themes.

Where can I learn more about the Wii U?

For in-depth information and troubleshooting, check out Nintendo’s official Wii U Support website. You can also find reviews, FAQs, and discussions about the console on websites like GameFAQs:

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