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.
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.