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

All the important quotes, from E3 onwards, fine-toothed and analysed to death

Exhibit D

Date reported: June 15th

Person quoted: Satoru Iwata,speaking during an E3 analysts' meeting

"Within the current environment, there are a number of the companies that are spending a significant amount to create these first-person shooters but, with the graphics capabilities of the Wii hardware, we have not been able to get them to create Wii versions of key franchises, and they have developed few games of that genre with Wii as the primary gaming console"

Above: The full range of boy-band balladeering hand-gestures from Iwata in this feature

"Many of those large third-party publishers are showing great interest in what we have to offer"

"We will be able to bring many of those key franchises to Wii U as a result of the work that we've done so far"

"What we are proposing this time with Wii U is a console that will give those consumers who did not even have an opportunity to interact with the Wii system more opportunities to connect with and use the Wii U console and, at the same time, offer the consumers who desire those high-quality HD visuals in their gameplay a product that will meet their needs as well"

Conclusions: Once again, the Wii U sounds at least up to current-gen standards. Iwata-san is a smart chap. He knows that Nintendo alienated its traditional customer-base with the Wii, and he wants to make amends. He's aware of what we want, and he's referring to it much more specifically than other folk have. And he's in charge, so we should pay attention to his big-bossman voice. Still, I wish he'd throw some serious numbers around. But he hasn't, so we're still not entirely sure what this thing can do.

Exhibit E

Date reported: June 17th

Person quoted: Sega's European MD of Development, Gary Dunn

When asked about the Wii U's power and online capabilities, Dunn stated,

"It's still a little early. There's another generation of prototype hardware coming out in June or July that's going to give us more information", but went on to explain that Sega's early-doors reaction is that"we're finding it to be quite powerful"

As for comparisons to the PS3 and 360, Dunn said that"It's too early to call. It's different", before explaining thatthe Wii U is"a good platform to develop for"

"We've certainly found it easier to get prototypes up and running on next-gen definition visuals, so we're quite pleased with it"

"Given the fact that one of our graphics engineers ported something across very quickly I would say the answer to [having easily understandable architecture] has got to be yes"

Conclusions: "Different". "Quite powerful". "Easily understandable architecture". You'll excuse me if I fear that this is light praise enough to damn the Wii U down to the pages of Dante's Inferno that were cut out because they were just too infernal. But don't panic. Ease of development is a very good thing. The PS3 technically kicks the crap out of the 360 in terms of horsepower, but which console traditionally gets the better versions of multi-platform titles? Yeah, It's the Microsoft box, because it's just far easier to get results from.

Also, Dunn's talk of non-final prototype hardware possibly explains a lot of Ubisoft's hesitance to comment on the Wii U's full power. So breath a bit easier. You were going purple, for God's sake.

Exhibit F

Date reported: June 18th

Person quoted: Shigeru Miyamoto

"Nintendo is an entertainment company. We're very sensitive to pricing because people have generally only a certain amount of their spending that they'll devote to entertainment. And if you're talking about parents buying something for kids, there are certain price points where parents may be willing to or not willing to purchase a certain product.

"Nintendo needs the Wii U to be powerful, but also affordable.

"But at the same time, you have these technological advances, and you have the needs of being able to take advantage of that technology, and those result in increasing costs and things like that. And so I think that in terms of companies that really look very carefully at what is the best balance between price and possibility in terms of the hardware, Nintendo is the company that's going to probably pay the most attention to striking that right balance.

"So when you look at what we're trying to do this time, which is I think maybe to a certain degree somewhat reckless, because we're trying to include this somewhat kind of tablet-like device--this controller with the screen. We're trying to do that by finding the right balance between the CPU and the GPU, the graphics processor, and bringing all of that together with the ability to take advantage of the HD capabilities of the system, and wanting to do the most that we can on that front as well.

"We're very sensitive, of course, to trying to do all of this at an appropriate price. So I don't know that we would be able to sit here and say that it's going to necessarily dramatically outperform the systems that are out now. It's part of the balance that we strike in terms of trying to find entertainment that is new and unique."

Conclusions: Nothing overly exciting here, but nothing overly damning either. Yes, Shigs' statements might seem to disappoint those expecting the Wii U to be a crowbar-whirling Gordon Freeman of a thing, making the 360 and PS3 look like a haemophiliac Yorda by comparison, but note that he says that the Wii U might not "necessarily dramatically outperform the systems that are out now". That does imply that it will outperform them to some degree. And with accessible architecture in the hands of experienced developers, that "necessarily" could be a rather open concept. And any mention of Nintendo being reckless with hardware again after the conservative days of the Wii definitely has me excited.

Overall conclusions

To be honest, not much more than we knew before, really, but at least now all the uncertain information is in one place so that we can pick and choose the bits we want to use in flame-wars more easily. I personally think things sound pretty hopeful for the Wii U's power, both rumoured hardware specsand developer accessibility taken into account. But what do you reckon?

Jun 22, 2011


Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.


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