Nintendo Wii U

Updated February 28, 2014
Nintendo Wii U
Bottom Line

The Nintendo Wii U and its innovative motion-sensitive, touch-screen GamePad controller is a terrific choice for family- and kid-friendly game play. However, it's been surpassed in power by newer video game consoles from Sony and Microsoft, and the game library is short on titles that will appeal to teens and adults.

Gaming performance

Great for family gaming. The original Nintendo Wii made its mark as the console to get for kid- and family-game play. The newer Wii U is a much more powerful console but it, too, has settled in as the console for families rather than serious gamers, though that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The game library has grown since its launch, but reviews say that it still has a way to go to be compelling. Graphics are gorgeous, and in 1080p resolution -- a step up from the original Wii  -- though they are still thoroughly beaten by the newer Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Xbox One . There's also a dearth of the type of first-person shooting games preferred by teens and adults. What there is, however, is a decent lineup of casual but fun games. In addition, the Wii U is backward-compatible with the original Wii, so most Wii games and even accessories will work fine with it. Lovers of classic games can download and play titles originally released for the NES, Super NES and, as of April 2014, the Game Boy Advance video game consoles.

The GamePad is the Wii U's big thing, and most -- but not all -- reviewers are generally impressed with its usefulness and utility. The most obvious feature is the 6.2-inch touch screen. One disappointment is that the screen is resistive rather than capacitive. What that means is that multi-touch gestures are pretty much out, and that you'll need a little more pressure than what's typically required with a tablet computer -- though not so much more that it's still not usable even by kids. Like Nintendo's portable gaming systems, a stylus is included.

The screen can duplicate what's shown on the TV, provide a different perspective on game play, or be used to provide additional information and menus, depending on the design of the game and the resourcefulness of the game developer. Some games can be transferred to the controller altogether and played without the need for a connected TV. The GamePad is motion sensitive, like the original Wiimote (Wii Remote), but is decidedly un-Wiimote-like in its array of typical game-controller buttons, joysticks and the like. One oft-cited negative is that the battery life is very short for the GamePad. Others say that the build quality looks a little on the cheap side.

ProsFamily-oriented titles, Also plays Nintendo Wii games and downloadable classic Nintendo games, Compatible with Wii accessoriesConsLimited streaming features, No CD, DVD or Blu-ray playback, Underpowered compared to new video game consoles
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