Wii U Launch: What Went Wrong?

David Lynch


Nintendo's Wii U has launched in the US, but the new console has a ton of issues that are only just coming to light. Is this Nintendo's worst launch yet?

Published on Nov 19, 2012

Wii U’s US launch has been and gone and with Nintendo’s new console nearing release in the UK (on the 30th Novmber), and eventually Japan (on the 8th December), there have been a number of worrying revelations coming to light from US gamers that puts the Wii U immediately on the back foot.

Nintendo has been rather coy when it comes to confirming just what’s housed within the Wii U and how it compares to the current consoles. With the Wii U finally in the hands of players details are emerging that Nintendo’s new console isn’t quite the powerhouse player’s were expecting.

Also, with reports emerging that many of the Wii U’s third party games suffer from numerous issues, we decided we should take a look at the Wii U’s biggest issues.

Is Nintendo’s launch of the Wii U the most lacklustre the game’s industry has seen? Here are a few reasons it might be...

What’s wrong with Nintendo’s Wii U:

Debug Menu Can Be Accessed

Possibly the worst and most embarrassing example of the Wii U’s unfinished architecture is the claims from one Neogaf user that he was able to accidentally access the Miiverse debug menu. After making himself an admin he was able to take a peek at some of the backend information. Hidden inside were all sorts of secrets because it’s, you know, a debug menu.

A list of unannounced games was clearly visible including titles such as:

  • Yoshi’s Land Wii U
  • Donkey Kong
  • Soul Hackers
  • Resident Evil (or resident evils as it appears on the debug menu)
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Final Fantasy 3
  • Dragon Quest

How long it takes for Nintendo to rectify this issue with a patch is unknown. For a console to launch with such an easily accessible backend which houses secret information is a colossal mistake by Nintendo.

A big mistake, but it is at lest easily rectified. Some of the other issues facing the Nintendo Wii U are unfortunately not so easily fixed…

Account Sharing Issues

This is an issue that no one really expected. We’ve become so used to the flexible nature of both the PS3 and the 360 that not being able to share accounts across multiple consoles never even entered into things.

Spotted on Giantbomb's live stream as it unpackaged the Wii U for the first time, this warning popped up:

“This Nintendo Network ID has already been linked to another Wii U Console.”

Taking a look at the Nintendo consumer Q&As for the Wii U, apprantley you won’t be able to log into your account from Wii Us that it isn’t attached to.

“Can I Log Into My Nintendo Network Account on a Different Console?


-No, you cannot. A Nintendo Network Account can only be used on the console where it was created. In the future, you will be able to use your Nintendo Network Account with future Nintendo consoles and other devices, such as PC's.

-Currently, the Wii U supports up to 12 individual Nintendo Network ID's per console, which enables each member of the family to have his or her own unique identity on the system.”

3rd Party Launch Games Have Serious Issues

Nintendo’s consoles have always had something of a reputation when it comes to first party games; they’re almost always better than the third party equivalent. Not only was that all supposed to change with the Wii U, but no one was expecting the third party ports of current games to be worse than the original versions.

If anything, they should be better.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case with reports coming in of third party games featuring worse visuals, sound and animation and even the controls have been criticized.

Mass Effect and Batman: Arkham City on the Wii U are both behind the 360 and PS3 when it comes to thier graphical fidelity, but there are even instances where players are complaining that the framerate of third party games lag behind that of its competitors, too.

According to the Wii U version of Mass Effect 3 is definetly lacking:

“This version of ME3 seems a lot less visually stable than, say, the Xbox 360 version -- the frame rate is choppier, the animation seems rougher. The audio suffers, too; while the music and sound effects have come over fine, all the dialogue has a hollow, echoing quality to it. The GamePad's analog sticks aren't as comfortable as the 360's, and the placement of the face buttons relative to the right stick made me continually miss the melee and reload buttons. My headshot ratio has dropped precipitously. It's tragic.”   

The framerate is worse and the grahpics are worse. Why should you buy ME3 on Wii U again?

Limited RAM

There’s a very good reason Nintendo didn’t reveal the specifications for the Wii U ahead of launch and that reason is simply, they’re not that great. Nowhere is this more salient than of the Wii U’s RAM.

The Wii U has 2GB of Samsung DDR3 memory that runs at a max speed of 12.8GB/s. Original estimations clocked the RAM speed at an ambitious 17 based on the Wii U’s other components, but it’s much slower than expected.

As a good comparison here’s one Neogaf users Xbox 360 and PS3 equivelants:

“360: 22.4 GB/s + eDRAM for framebuffer
PS3: 25.6 GB/s main memory BW + 22.4 GB/s graphics memory BW, no eDRAM”

Problems With HDMI

Another worrying technical issue for the Wii U that really shouldn’t exist at all, but some US users have discovered problems with the HDMI setup.

Not only are there reports of the Wii U ‘turning off’ the other outputs when the HDMI is in use (thereby making it very difficult for those that enjoy recording their game footage), but some have even struggled to get a signal to their TVs at all.

Nintendo’s tech forums have been inundated with people asking why their Wii U’s won’t transmit a picture to their TV and Nintendo has yet to issue a reply or even acknowledge there is an issue on the forum.

Single Save Game Slot Issues

Another issues spotted on the live stream from Giantbomb, but according to the footage the Wii U’s save files aren’t exclusively tied to the player accounts, but the actual machine itself.

The only real distinction between the multiple accounts on a single Wii U is the friends list that is attached to it, not the games. Just make sure you label your saves to avoid losing them if you have more than one account attached to you Wii U.

Day One Patch is 5GB, Could Brick your Wii U

If you get you Wii U home and want to play straight away, you’re going to have to wait as Nintendo downloads and installs a massive firmware update that’s an enormous 5GB. According to some reports this can take up to an hour (obviously depending on your connection speed).

Despite that, there are reports that some Wii Us that download the 5GB update fail to turn back on at all.

Shorter Than Expected Controller Battery Life

Nintendo was cagey releasing specific information regarding the battery life of its GamePad and for good reason, it’ll only last you from 3-5 hours depending on what you’re doing. Much, much shorter than the iPad and other tablets it will limit how long you can play before being forced to charge it up. No mammoth sessions of Mass Effect 3 then.

Interface Issues

An issue that could be explained by the launch day networking stress as users finally start to log onto to Nintendo’s new network, but there have various complaints that it is sluggish to use.

GamePad Distance Issues

Another issue brought to light on Neogaf, but according to some users carrying the Wii U’s GamePad as little as 12 feet away from it can cause the signal to fade and will apparently lose signal at 15 feet.

One of the Wii U’s biggest selling points, the ability to play big screen games on a small screen (while you’re no doubt in bed), this ability is apparently severely limited.

Web Browser Speed

The Wii U comes complete with a web browser that allows you to look at the internet either on your GamePad screen or your TV. According to the Wii U uses an older version of WebKit and when compared to web browsers on other high-end devices – such as the iPhone and other tablets – the Wii U’s web browser is much, much slower to use.

WiFi Connection Problems

For those that have Wii Us, setting up the WiFi connection is grueling task, but one that can be overcome… eventually. had issues setting up its Wii U WiFi connection finding the console kept telling the user there was a “Error Code 103-1001, Error Code 103-1002”.

There is a needlessly complex work around to get the WiFi working however, but it begs the question will those less tech savvy be able to get their Wii Us online without help?

If you're interested in reading what the industry thinks of Nintendo's new console, check out:

Wii U Review Round-Up: Hardware

Or, if you're looking for the best Wii U prices:

Wii U Best Prices & Cheapest Deals

Have a Wii U? Having issues with it? Let us know below.



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