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The Wii U ~ Truly Current-Gen or Just Hasn't Found it's Voice Yet?

AKR|1146d ago |Blog Post|15|

Ever from since the Wii U was first unveiled, the biggest question that has faced the system was "How powerful is it?" Nintendo still has yet to reveal it's TRUE specs, but someone at Digital Foundry has claimed to have leaked the specs - although at least 30% of the capabilities of the Wii U's chip is still unknown.

Either way, when looking at the rumoured specs, many have come to the conclusion that the Wii U isn't as powerful as many would have hoped for and that has lead to several people - from devs to normal gamers - writing the Wii U off as "last-gen/current-gen&quo t; and in other cases "weaker than the PS3/360." Can these conclusions really be justified?

1.) We Don't Know What It's Capable Of Yet

As I mentioned - many are currently writing the Wii U off as either on-par or even weaker than the current-tech that we have. This is an absurd claim. Right now, there aren't much games to prove those claims wrong - however - concluding that because the visuals of the current games in the Wii U's library don't look miles higher than what we're already seeing on high-end PS3 and 360 games, that the Wii U is weak, really isn't the best way of going on about things.

Think about it ~ Devs have been working with the PS3 and 360 for nearly an entire decade. They know all of the ins-&-outs of these systems, and they're pushing them to their very limit. Wii U on the other hand has been out for a half a year. Many of the games that are currently in it's library were quick ports; dreamed up in just a few months. Devs are only now getting a feel for the system, so naturally, it's going to take a while before we see a true spike in visual difference.

But if there's ONE port that HAS stood out - it's Criterion Games' "Need for Speed: Most Wanted U". Unlike the other developers - Criterion took some time with the Wii U version of a *fairly-old* title. Yes, it released about 6 months after the other versions, but the results of the extra care it was given are quite obvious. The lighting was re-vamped (especially at night time), the draw-distance was improved and the frame rate stays locked at a firm 30FPS much better than the PS3 and 360. Most Wanted U also benefits from the added high-res textures of the PC version, making it look noticeably sharper and more vivid than the other console versions. This is something that Criterion was able to do with a PORT - so just imagine the results of a full-scale, built-from-scratch Wii U game, a little while from now when devs get more acquainted with the hardware? It just goes to show how just a little extra effort can make a pretty decent difference.

Honestly - It's unfair to judge the Wii U's power right now, by just looking at a few ports at the BEGINNING of it's life-cycle. Consoles are like wine - they get better with age. Just take a look at the 360 and PS3. Compare any of the better-looking games appearing on those systems today, with games at the very beginning of their life-cycles. You'll see just how much better everything looks. Why? Because no console's true power is unlocked from jump street. These things take time to work with, and when they're tinkered with by the right hands - great things can be achieved. Even if we never know the *exact* specs of Wii U, seeing that Nintendo does not seem keen to release a complete spec list, you should at least strive to keep an open mind about how much the console can grow in just a few years.

2.) Nintendo Will Most Likely Have to Prove It's Power

Wii has to be the most technologically challenged console, compared to the competition, ever seen in a generation. Even the weakest consoles of the generations before the 7th weren't as far behind as Wii was when compared to the 360 and PS3. Wii was a standard-definition system that was trying to go head to head with two high-definition systems. Despite this massive set-back, there were a few Wii games that made some people forget they were only playing in 480p. Games like Sonic Colors, Xeneoblade Chronicles, Super Mario Galaxy (1 & 2), Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and the Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword come to mind. Although one of the aforementioned games didn't come from Nintendo, they still proved to look exceptionally better than the average Wii third-party title. These are games that made SD still look pretty, especially Skyward Sword which not only had a breathtaking artstyle, but pushed the Wii to it's breaking point. Even though many were used to playing their games in 1080p, some still found themselves taking a double take at these games, despite them only being rendered in 480p.

What does that mean for the Wii U? Well, it looks like it'll have to be the Nintendo titles that prove to show the Wii U's true power. Games like Pikmin 3, X, Nintendo Land and the Zelda Tech Demo already show a glimpse as to how far Nintendo has come in their short time of working with the new HD-tech. This is just the beginning. We still have yet to lay eyes on the *true* HD Zelda, as well as the up-coming 3D Mario. Will it be games like those which go down in history as some of the best-looking games on Wii U? We'll see.

3.) It's Closer to It's Competition

As I already mentioned, the Wii was at a grave disadvantage on the tech side of things. 480p was all the little white box could do, while it's competition was riding high on the trails of 1080p. Even so, the Wii did have some pretty good looking games.

When looking at the Wii U - this system, although once again, the weakest in it's generation, isn't weak. It's specs are lightweight compared to systems like the PS4, but doesn't mean it's going to look lightyears worse. People - Wake up. We're ending the graphics road. We're moving from a generation of HD, to a generation of more HD. This isn't the 6th-gen to 7th-gen transition anymore. We're NEVER going to see a jump that big again. With games like Crysis 3, GTA: V, and Watch_Dogs already border-lining the infamous "photo-realistic" level, how far do you expect graphics to advance?

No doubt, the graphics of the 8th-gen will look better than the 7th-gen, but when it comes down to the comparison between Wii U and PS4/720 - we're never going to see another Wii vs. PS3/360 situation ever again. Ever.

IN CONCLUSION:

There aren't much positive cards going for the Wii U right now. Although there are actually more studios that are cool with Nintendo than you think - one can't still deny the fact that many developers seem to be bailing out from the Wii U, and all with similar excuses, mainly "It just can't run this. It's current gen. It's not powerful enough for that." Even so, tides can change. 3DS was able to make a turn-around. Maybe the same can happen for Wii U. As far as visuals go, we're just going to have to wait and see how much power this thing has under it's hood in due time. But even so, it's far too early to write the system off as "weak" or "just as powerful as 360/PS3". Only time can successfully make a judgement to that.

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PopRocks3591146d ago

There has been a lot of mixed feedback. Some developers see potential while others or unsure or have ignored the system entirely. Few games have really used the Wii U to its full potential, mostly because Nintendo understands the hardware better than anyone. I don't believe that Wii U's full potential can match its upcoming competition, but I still think it can produce games that are noticeably better looking than what you can see on a 360 or PS3. The issue now is for those games to actually be produced.

"No doubt, the graphics of the 8th-gen will look better than the 7th-gen, but when it comes down to the comparison between Wii U and PS4/720 - we're never going to see another Wii vs. PS3/360 situation ever again. Ever."

I agree with this. There are talks of the PS4/Nextbox not having as big a leap in graphics as previous generations. I think saying the Wii U is the Wii of its generation specs wise may be an oversimplification. I can't know for sure until the new consoles and games come out obviously, but that's my otherwise optimistic hunch.

tehpees31146d ago

Nintendo tend to sell by their own fist. Every system they have made apart from Virtual Boy has been financially successful.

Wii U not selling so hot does not mean the market as a whole wants more power. There is a huge market for the type of approach Nintendo is taking with Wii U and if they can successfully tap into that they could have a huge hit on their hands. Bundling this type of controller with Wii U just proves Nintendo is the most dedicated to this type of feature.

From what I have played of mine it has some amazing potential. So what if it isn't modern time powerful. I consider many Wii games to be better then the first party efforts of Microsoft or Sony. Mario is still the king of platformers (as reflected in the constant success of the series) and Xenoblade is considered by a lot of people to be the best JRPG of the generation.

Power didn't have an effect on the quality of Wii games and it is highly unlikely it will stop Nintendo coming out with just as high quality games here. The mistake they made was calling it Wii U. Wii 2 would have sufficed if they wanted to keep the Wii name.

admiralvic1144d ago

While you're without a doubt right that power =/= quality and that Nintendo has a number of solid first party titles, a lot of people seem to forget that these people are fishing.

When it comes to consoles, three things typically sell them. Value, cost and games, which the Wii U is lacking in every aspect. While the future does have better games coming out, there isn't a reason to do it today. I can easily wait till E3 and see a price drop or wait till Black Friday and get a killer deal and then pick up everything. That's what a lot of these articles forget, which is pretty silly on their part. Now if the Wii U is still dying with Pikmin 3, Mario Kart U, Super Smash Bros U, Mario Party U, Yarn Yoshi, Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2... then it might be time to worry.

NYC_Gamer1145d ago (Edited 1145d ago )

Wii U is the typical Nintendo console that only appeal to long time fans of Mario and others...It's no doubt Wii U won't be getting certain software due to hardware specs once developers really dive into next gen development..Wii U might have lots of droughts software wise because of the lack of 3rd party support compared to PS4/720..Lets be honest Nintendo won't be able to pump out quality software around the clock and remember Wii dealt with that same problem.

PigPen1139d ago

I disagree as I have owned two consoles this past generation. To be honest, the generation before that too. Isn't that almost the case with all consoles though that PS4 is the typical Sony console that only appeal to long time fans of GOW and others. And Microsoft the same with Halo. Nintendo has money, debit, scratch, cream, benjamin, greenback, muya and doe to fund games and buy exclusives. They don't have all 3rd party on board but I'm alright with what it has and Nintendo 1st party.

TechnicianTed1145d ago

At the end of the day, consoles have generations which are based on power next to the generation before them. Which means the Wii U is a generation ahead of the console before it, which would be the Wii.

Therefore it is a Next Gen™ console.

ABizzel11145d ago

1.) We Don't Know What It's Capable Of Yet

We know exactly what the Wii-U is capable of because we know the hardware for better and worse.

The CPU is made up of 3 Wii CPU's combined together with OOE (out of order execution). The OOE helps it organize and prioritize better than the PS360 CPU's, but it's still completely outperformed by them in term of processing.

The GPU in the Wii-U is the one true highlight. It's either a 4650m, 4670m, or 4670 GPU meaning it ranges for 335 - 500 GFLOPS (4650m 335 GFLOPS, 4670m 4670m 450 GFLOPS, or 4670 500 GFLOPS). Comparatively the 360 has 355 GFLOPS, and the PS3 has 400 GFLOPS, putting the Wii-U in the same ballpark as the previous consoles. However, the PS360's CPU's contributed around 40% of the total GFLOPS for the consoles making their GPU's closer to 200 GFLOPS mark, while the Wii-U has nearly 100% of it's GFLOPS from the GPU alone meaning the Wii-U GPU is anywhere from 1.5x - 2.5x more powerful than the PS360 meaning games should look better. However, the GPU in the Wii-U will be tasked with performing almost all gaming functions (what current GPU's are doing) even those usually done by the CPU (physics), which means that the GPU may not ever perform to it's peak potential due the the bottleneck from the CPU which acts as a traffic cop so to speak, compared to the GPU.

The Wii-U has 4x the amount of RAM compared to the PS360 (2GB vs 512MB). However, the Wii-U's RAM is significantly slower than the PS360 clocked at 12.8 GB/s (360: 22.4 GB/s + 10MB eDRAM, PS3: 25.6 GB/s main memory + 22.4 GB/s graphics memory). Fortunately the Wii-U has 32MB of eDRAM which should be able to double the speed of the RAM when it needs to making it 25.6 GB/s on occasion.

ABizzel11145d ago

So as you can this is the problem developers have with the Wii-U. The big companies are trying to transition into the next-gen consoles, and are only sticking with the PS360 due to install base. The overall the Wii-U is anywhere from 1.5x - 2x more powerful than the PS360 which really isn't enough of a leap to warrant a port to. The PS4 and Nexbox are said to be neck and neck, so why would they want to pay another developer to make a downgraded version of their game because the Wii-U can't handle it mainly due to a poor GPU and RAM configuration,

And what makes me upset is this is all Nintendo's fault for trying to be extremely cheap. AMD announced it's APU's in 2010, so Nintendo knew about them since they came to AMD for hardware. The Llano series of APU's launched in 2011 and Nintendo could have launched the Wii-U holiday 2011 as well and it would have been slightly better than the theoretical max for the Wii-U and cost pretty much the same, as well as having a 2 year head-start on the competition (2GHz AMD A6 Quad Core Llano CPU, HD 6550D GPU 480 GFLOPS, and 2GB of RAM). This would have at least made it a bottom-end gaming PC.

But no they waited another year, and released the Wii-U and made it just above old-console settings thanks to a poor CPU and RAM selection. And worst of all they could have made it even beefier with an AMD Trinity APU which has released that year (2GHz AMD A8 Quad Core Trinity CPU, HD 7660D GPU 615 GFLOPS, 2GB - 4GB of RAM).

1. It could have easily been sold for $349 & $399.
2. It would be a low-end PC guaranteeing ports of most PC, PS4, and Nextbox games
3. It would have shown superiority to the PS360 Day 1, playing games in 720p @ 60fps with PS360 graphics, or low - mid PC settings 720p @ 30fps.

This is what I'm disappointed about. Nintendo could have truly been competitive and still could have been an entry level gaming device, but they chose to be cheap, but as one developer said "You don't need advanced shaders CPU's, RAM, and GPU's when you're making Mario".

ABizzel11145d ago

2.) Nintendo Will Most Likely Have to Prove It's Power

This is the most important thing to look forward to. Nintendo has a collection of well known, established, and top selling IP's under their name. I was shocked there was nothing really there from Nintendo for launch especially considering they showed the Wii-U off back in 2011, so the developers must have started on Wii-U games back in 2010. Even more angering is the fact that Nintendo saw the problems Sony and MS went through trying to get HD games up and running, but I guess they were too busy chugging up the Wii's success that it caused them to fall flat on their face now that they're dealing with HD content.

Thankfully games should be here this E3 (don't get me started on the non-presentation). A new 3D Mario is sure to help, and I'm sure we'll see Mario Kart as well, but what else? They have to show off plenty of games and give solid release dates for this year up until E3 2014. Show Zelda Wind Waker HD, Project X, Bayonetta 2, Fire Emblem vs Shin megami tensei, and Yoshi's Epic Yarn and give them dates for this year. On top of that show footage of Super Smash, and true 3D Zelda, Pokemon Wii-U, Metroid U, HD Kid Icarus, and most importantly come up with some NEW IP's that aren't Platforming side scrollers. This is what will makeup a good E3 showing.

maniacmayhem1144d ago

Did you just say "Fire Emblem vs Shin Megami Tensei"??

I just googled it and fainted.

Don't care how much power the WiiU now has, must have this game.

ABizzel11144d ago

LOL Yeah. I'm a bit upset about the hardware choices, but Nintendo has enough power to make so really good game, and the creativity for some really unique experiences.

FE x SMT is one of them. REally looking forward to that one.

ABizzel11145d ago

3.) It's Closer to It's Competition

Statically speaking yes. In reality, No. The Wii-U vs the PS4 and Nextbox, is similar to PC vs PS360. While most users really won't care, the hardware enthusiast, graphics whores, and pixel junkies know this is far from the truth.

The Wii-U is below bottom-end gaming PC's. The PS4 and potentially Nextbox are mid-range gaming PC's (based on single card PC's). There's no comparison. The Wii-U being HD and having an acceptable GPU will aid it, but developers are already proving that the Wii-U just can't keep up and that's why support has already shifted.

Believe it or not I'm rooting from Nintendo. I don't want to see any of the Big 3 fail, but Nintendo seriously dropped the ball with the Wii U all around, and now they have a steep hole to dig out of and I don't think they'll be able to. But I do hope they learn, and fix it with their next console.

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