Wii U Release UK: What's New? Is It Good? And How To Buy One

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Nintendo releases its newest console, the Wii U, on Friday 30 November in the UK - but will you actually be able to buy one?

And should you even try?

Ahead of the release let's unpick the facts about the Nintendo's new machine, and work out how you'll actually be able to get your hands on one, if you decide it's for you.

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The Basics

The Wii U is a significant upgrade from the original motion-sensor console, with better and sharper 1080p graphics, and a bold new 'tablet' style controller, allowing for dual-screen gaming, which also comes with an inbuilt camera and motion controls.

The console will still use the familiar 'Wii-Mote' style controllers from the original Wii for certain games, but it will add-in the tablet GamePad to the mix as well.

The idea is that in single-player modes the second screen is used as an inventory, map, unique control device or any number of other modes. In multi-player games, the player with the screen will perform different functions to other players, working either with or against them like a 'Dungeon Master' in old-school boardgames.

The second screen will also let single players continue their games when someone else in the room decides to watch TV instead of your gaming session.

The console comes in three flavours:

  • Wii U Basic Pack: (about £250) comes with a white Wii U console with 8GB internal storage and a white GamePad.
  • Wii U Premium Pack: (about £300) contains a black Wii U console and Wii U GamePad, 32GB of internal storage, a stand, a charging cradle, a sensor bar and the Nintendo Land game.
  • ZombiU Premium Pack: the same as the premium, but with a black Wii U Pro Controller and ZombieU game instead of NintendoLand.

The Games

Here's the full line-up of Wii U launch titles - highlights in bold.

  • Funky Barn
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
  • Skylanders Giants
  • Transformers Prime
  • Disney Epic Mickey 2. The Power Of Two
  • FIFA 13
  • Mass Effect 3: Special Edition
  • Ben 10: Omniverse
  • Family Party: 30 Great Games Obstacle Arcade
  • Tank! Tank! Tank!
  • Tekken Tag Tournament 2
  • Nintendo Land - the 'Wii Sports' for the new console
  • New Super Mario Bros. U
  • Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
  • Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper
  • Darksiders 2
  • Assassin's Creed 3
  • Just Dance 4
  • Rabbids Land
  • Sports Connection
  • Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013
  • ZombiU
  • Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition
  • Game Party Champions

The Reviews

The console has had a mixed reaction since its announcement earlier this year, and reviews from the US where it's already been out a week have been variable too.

The most consistent theme is that while the console is potentially an interesting upgrade with a fresh take on controls, it will take time to prove that enough top-level software will be released to justify the investment.

Reviewers are naturally wary after the original Wii's release, in which the best games were usually those released by Nintendo and which for most hardcore gamers became far less interesting over time.

Others have noted weak battery performance for the GamePad controller, a lack of truly stand-out launch games and frustrating menus and online services.

  • Techradar: "There's great fun to be had on the Wii U right away, but we struggle to call it an essential purchase for those still enjoying games on other platforms."
  • T3: "Wii U is a potential-packed system that plays like a dream and at a decent, if not recession-proof, price."
  • IGN: "Despite some growing pains, Nintendo has taken a huge step in the right direction. This is a console in its infancy, with lots of room to mature."
  • CNET: "Despite its unique dual-screen presentation, innovative GamePad controller, and ambitious Nintendo TVii service, the Wii U still has a lot to prove."
  • Joystiq: " It's rooted in classic experiences, but adds weird new possibilities. Nintendo has always excelled in taking unexpected steps, and this is one of them."

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How To Buy One

The WiiU is currently available from a number of online outlets, most of which are at least giving you the option to buy one - even if they might not guarantee delivery by Friday.

Amazon and Game are offering all of the various packs. Play.com has the basic version, as does Currys.

There is a handy full list of prices here.

If you absolutely want a WiiU early, you could try turning to eBay. But you're going to pay a premium. Various sellers have the basic pack available for delivery by Thursday - but it will cost you around £30 for the privilege.

Of course, you could always queue.

Yes, if you can stand the indignity HMV and other retailers are holding midnight sales events to let the die hards get their systems on time.

On Oxford Street in London HMV are offering free games and gift vouchers to those who queue early - adding an extra incentive.

That said, some gamers have already been in line for several days. So you might be out of luck there too unless you can grab your coat and get out of the door soon.

As ever, the best way to get a Wii U on Friday might be just to load up the car with fuel and power around every gaming shop, tech superstore and supermarket you can until you find one.