So how powerful is the Wii U exactly? Let's look at all the evidence

This is getting silly now. With all the world's hardcore eyes on it after the miserably low-res Wii years, Nintendo has a lot to prove with the Wii U. Supposedly the Nintendo console for everyone, with enough cool tricks to please the casual player and enough horsepower to provide for the more demanding core player, this next console really has to deliver in that latter respect. It has to in order to convice the disenfranchised traditional gamer that Nintendo is still a viable option. And it has to if the Wii U is going to have any hope of remaining a viable hardcore option if the Xbox 720 and PS4 turn up at next year's E3 (though they probably won't).

But Nintendo still won't release anything concrete on the machine's specs. We've had some stunning tech demos, but past those, nothing bar new, vague, contradictory reports from various sources, bringing us a different story every day. Is it 50% more powerful than a PS3? Is it 27% less powerful than a Vectrex? I want to know, and you do too, and in order to find out I've compiled every report so far and fine-toothed the lot of them to try to make some kind of overall conclusion.

Read on, and you will find my findings.

Exhibit A

Date reported: June 7th

Person quoted: Nintendo President Reggie Fils-Aime, speaking to Gametrailers.

"This is a Wii for you"

"Tick off the box. High definition graphics. Got it"

"There has been some fantastic content that has not come to our platform. Third-party publishers have told us that the reason they couldn't bring it to our platform was based on the horsepower of the machine. That excuse has gone. So now all of the best content from third-party publishers can come to the machine"

Above: You have no idea how much I want to do a Tommy Cooper Photoshop on this image

"In terms of how good it looks, it's going to be driven by what the individual developers do. The system's going to be 1080P. It's going to be high definition. So again, tick that box. That's done. Now it's about 'What is the new experience we're going to bring to bear?'"

And when asked if Nintendo has the facilities to produce a Zelda that looks as good as Uncharted,

"We absolutely have the teams to deliver that type of experience"

Conclusions: The bit about a Nintendo being able to make a Zelda that looks as good as Uncharted is incredibly promising, but it's a bit worrying that Reggie kept mentioning 1080P definition as if it's the be-all and end-all of current-generation console hardware. High-def seemed to be the big man's stock answer when referring to horsepower, and I really hope that wasn't a way of deflecting questions about more important processing issues. You can stick a PS1 game in HD if you want to. It still looks like ass.

Exhibit B

Date reported: June 8th

Person quoted: Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata, telling a Japanese newspaper that the Wii U will cost more than the $250 Wii did at launch.


Conclusions: Over $250 sounds like the right price-point for a high-powered machine, given that the 250Gb Xbox 360 currently goes for $299.99, and the RRP for a 160Gb PS3 is the same. How much of the manufacturing cost of a Wii U goes towards the touch-screen controller though, is anybody's guess. So er, this one doesn't prove anything really. Sorry. Erm... Look over there! A thing! You know, one of those exciting things you like!

Exhibit C

Date reported: June 13th

Person Quoted: Ubisoft Quebec's senior technical architect Marc Parenteau at an E3 developer roundtable

"The multi-core architecture of the console is a natural fit for our in-house HD engines, such as the Anvil engine used in Assassin's Creed. In addition, the large memory capacity of the console will be used to bring performance enhancements, such as pre-calculating data or increasing our cache sizes... Assassin's Creed has a very distinctive look, and we want to get it just right. so I'm happy to say that the graphical shaders that are used in development are fully functional. This will allow us to reuse our assets across platforms and make sure that the graphical quality is top-notch."


And when asked to comment directly on power comparisons between the Wii U, Xbox 360 and PS3,

"It's too early to make comparisons with that sort of thing. We're still learning how to maximize the usage of the hardware. The hardware is evolving a bit also. The dev kits are not final, so there's still some before the actual... uh... before we can make comparisons. And you have to understand, we've been working on other engines for a long time so we need some time to catch up and get up to date on what we can do with the hardware. So to compare now wouldn't be fair."

Conclusions: So Assassin's Creed runs swimmingly. That's good news. And it sounds like it runs better than it does on the Xbox 360 and PS3, if that mention of "the large memory capacity" and "performance enhancements" is anything to go by. At least as powerful as its HD rivals, but with better loading times? That sounds like the bare minimum horsepower at the moment. Though Parenteau's certainty seems to fall apart a bit when asked for direct comparisons to the competition. Don't worry too much though. Ubisoft has been learning to use 360 and PS3 for over six years now, and we're seeing better results from those machines all the time. He's probably just referring to the fact that those sort of depths haven't been plumbed with the Wii U yet. Probably. I hope. Yeah, definitely probably.



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  • The Ledge93 - June 28, 2011 4:31 a.m.

    I feel like companies and their product can be analogized like this Apple/Wii (User friendly and comprehensiveness - oriented, quality crippled) Google/Xbox (Made for the non casual consumer, but not the hardcore Haxors) Sony/PS3 (jkjk) Alienware/Ps3 (High Quality, but somewhat limited due to consumer accessibility and pricing)
  • Dondada - June 23, 2011 5:28 a.m.

    LOL @ the Miyamoto photo twice. I've never seen a happier person.
  • Elementium - June 23, 2011 5:06 a.m.

    Obviously it will be more powerful than the Xbox and PS3.. Their tech is old compared to the things even cheaper end PC's are built with (I'm guessing :P 7 years is a long time). My only concerns are 1. Are they really coming back to us or are they putting out a few M rated ports to catch our eyes? 2. Will their Online REALLY be up to par with Xbox Live?.. 3. Japan.. Nintendo.. Please don't weigh this game down with wacky gimmicks.. The touch screen on the controller scares me more than it excites me. Like someone else said how comfortable will it be constantly looking up and down at the controller then the screen? does it really add anything that a regular pause menu can't? Also a Side Note.. To figure out how powerful it COULD be.. couldn't someone who knows computers simply make a list of the best most cost effective tech at the moment and figure the quality of the tech against the prices we feel Nintendo might use?
  • sid440 - June 23, 2011 1:35 a.m.

    Im happy to see nintendo stepping it up with the WiiU, but im also worried, PS3 graphics mario only looks really good if the PS4 isint around to show it up.
  • Balaska - June 22, 2011 6:32 p.m.

    Given that the PS3 and Xbox hardware is 7 years old now, it would be ridiculously easy to build a console significantly more powerful than both, for a pittance, with old off the shelf modded PC bits, the Wii U has to be more powerful, otherwise Ninty better only charge us about a tenner for it.
  • Deinsleaf - June 22, 2011 1:46 p.m.

    It's like a 4-2 year old PC. Oh yeah.
  • Aletheon - June 22, 2011 1:35 p.m.

    The Wii U will be a great console to have. There's really nothing to talk about with the power of it. All that matters is games. I have a huge Wii collection with amazing games and it wasn't in HD. I was still able to fully enjoy them. Now that nintendo is making a leap in power and resolution, I'm sure it will just be easier to fully enjoy the games they offer. Some of the best games I played on the Wii were third party games that barely sold any copies. Many gamers miss out on real experiences because of their own discrimination towards the system. It's sad that hardcore is determined by the lowest common denominator nowadays.
  • ithurtstopoop - June 22, 2011 11:33 a.m.

    I always imagine Miyamoto getting blown in that last pic.
  • austincharlesbond - June 22, 2011 11:26 a.m.

    really... how much better could graphics get? I'm happy with whatever Nintendo delivers, as long as the gameplay is just as good. Seeing Metroid Prime and Zelda in HD is just the icing on the cake :)
  • JachAnen - June 22, 2011 9:53 a.m.

    magic_muffin_man @ "...equivalent of a PS3.5" Lol, highly doubt it. Anyone remember the GameCube?? That was the last time Nintendo thought they could keep up with Sony. Now they are making the same mistake. Although, they do have a new customer base now, and kind of betrayed/lost the old. But if they can lure the new AND old over to the WiiU then its pretty smart. But its NOT gonna kick PS3 or 360's ass. And even though i have the 360, GoW is the only good games that Xbox has, so PS3 is superior in every way except for Kinect).
  • jackthemenace - June 22, 2011 9:40 a.m.

    I couldn't care less about how powerful the wii U is, I've never looked at the wii for graphics. As long as it can play decent games (provided any actually come OUT), I'm happy. Also, I think I'm in love with Miyamoto.
  • Darkwun - June 23, 2011 2:19 p.m.

    so basically, more powerful than a housebrick, less powerful than skynet... good to know!
  • xshadowhawkx - June 23, 2011 2:55 a.m.

    i dont give a flying F*** stop bing soo damm picky at lease there going to be a new smash bros and mario kart thats all i care about
  • Moondoggie1157 - June 23, 2011 2:16 a.m.

    Nintendo, nintendo, nintendo... What do I say? I can see this console pushing close to PS/Xbox power wise, if not on par with both. BUT, the new controller is going to be a real sucker on the WiiU. More screens doesn't make it better! It worked for DS, but the DS is the size of a game case, it was doable. I wouldn't go as far to say this console will flop, after all this is Nintendo we are talking about, but I don't expect much. A little too late to the party methinks. Oh, and don't compare this to the Dreamcast, that is a holy name and just by making the comparison you are bordering heresy. Computer graphics really don't have far to go before they hit complete realism? Then what? I say hand drawn games that rival cartoon visuals, sure the games would take forever to produce, but they would look stellar and likely grab some much needed respect. Break out the holographic gaming already, think of the children... Actually, fuck the children, think of me.
  • Spybreak8 - June 23, 2011 1:23 a.m.

    Tell me when I care next year.
  • Nintendophile - June 22, 2011 8:57 p.m.

    Honestly, I'd be happy with a Nintendo console that was AS POWERFUL as a 360 or PS3. It doesn't need to be MORE powerful. But, of course, it'd be nice. Just bring things up to everyone else's definition of "current gen", Nintendo, and I'll be a happy camper.
  • TheKey - June 22, 2011 8:50 p.m.

    @Erased230 Well, as much as I doubt they'll be able to wait that long, Sony doesn't intend to release the PS4 for what, five more years? Also, Nintendo has other fist party games. Other than that though, there isn't really a reason. But to be fair, no-one bought the Wii for it's graphical power.
  • ensabahnur - June 22, 2011 8:20 p.m.

    I just want to know how many consoles they will sell considering that the current market (me) isnt buying a wiiU just because of the graphics, by the time developers catch up to the wii U and making it look nice; 720 and PS4 will be out if not on the immediate horizon. Plus i got my gamerscore and trophies
  • shawksta - June 22, 2011 7:53 p.m.

    Dont care, as long as Nintendo is keeping up to date and always wowing everyone with their First Party that will get better with this hardware than thats fine by me. New Smash Bros. + Awesome Online = FUCK YEAH!
  • lilspooky - June 22, 2011 5:10 p.m.

    well the Wii is two gamecubes taped together, logically the WiiU is two Wii's taped together.