In order to make a pre-Christmas release, Nintendo may have rushed the gun a little on their latest console offering, the Wii U. Let’s take a look at what problems have been reported for the device since its release 2 days ago.
1. Bah RAM (Wii) U
Probably the most controversial topic regarding the Wii U these past few days is how much RAM it really has (and what kind of RAM it is). Teardowns of official release hardware by tech site AnandTech claim that hte Wii U has 2GB of DDR3-1600 RAM with 12.8GB/s bandwidth. Compare this to the so-called ‘last gen’ PS3 for example, which has a 25.6 GB/s bandwidth RAM, or the latest PC graphics card GTK 680, which runs at a speed of 192.2 GB/s, and you can see why people would be upset at this ‘little’ issue. Now apparently there are ‘high amounts’ of eDRAM stored in the GPU, but this has yet to be confirmed.
2. Slow Browser
In what is claimed to be a ‘next-gen’ console, it seems strange that the Wii U’s browser heavily underperforms. A future software update may rectify this to some degree, but still, it raises some flags when a fully fledged console can’t even do as good as a mobile phone in terms of loading speed.
3. Security Issues
Recent screenshots suggest that some users have been able to access the debug menus in the ‘Miiverse’ software that comes with the Wii U. While ‘official’ sources claim the photos are ‘mock ups’, they certainly seem convincing enough. And if they are real, it could mean that users have a way of manipulating the system, which may expose a number of things, such as other users’ private data. Remember the PSN debacle?
4. GamePad Issues
There are several issues with the ‘Tablet Controller’ device which is the main selling point of the Wii U console. Up until the launch of the console, the included tablet was touted as ‘the main weapon Nintendo will use to combat the iPad’. But as it turns out, the tablet built in to the GamePad is fairly unresponsive in comparison to its ‘rival’ from Apple, and those who are used to the fresh responsive UIs on their iPads and iPhones may be a little disappointed.
A bigger problem for the GamePad, however, is battery life. The pad currently uses a 1500mAh battery, similar to the 3DS, and this doesn’t give the power-draining multi-sensored controller with a full color display and wireless functionality much juice to run on. Reviews have put the average longevity of a single charge at 3 hours, but during ‘QuickLook’ reviews by gaming site GiantBomb.com, the review started with a fully charged GamePad, and the remaining power indicator quickly turned red after a mere 30 minutes play. If this is a common occurrence its really quite unacceptable for a ‘wireless’ controller.
5. Framerate Issues/ Graphics
Also made infamous thanks to GiantBomb was the framerate issues that the Wii U is having with its launch titles. During a live stream by the gaming site, the team expressed chagrin at framerate drops during multi-platform games such as Batman: Arkham City, Mass Effect III, and Black Ops II. The graphics have also taken a step-down from their PS3 and Xbox360 brothers. This situation may be rectified as developers get more familiar with the console, but when a console is being touted as ‘the start of next-gen’, you can’t expect consumers to be happy when it can’t even perform as well as its 6 year old ‘last-gen’ competitors.
6. Network Accounts
Users who make a new Nintendo account on their console will be displeased to learn that there is no way to access the account from another device, as it is tied to your console. Having friends over will become a tedious event as each has to make their own account, instead of just logging into their own accounts. If your console breaks or you wish to sell it, it will also be impossible to transfer your data. What is seen as common sense in the Internet world (accounts that reside in the cloud available from anywhere) is apparently a no-no in Nintendoland. Whether or not this issue is addressed in future firmware updates remains to be seen. Oh, and speaking of updates..
7. 1-2 Hour-long Day One Updates
Kids who unwrap their Wii U’s on Christmas Day won’t be happy to hear that you have to wait up to 2 hours for the console to download the latest firmware before you can play it. While updates in general aren’t a big deal, the extent of the update pushed on launch day really gives us the feeling that Nintendo have rushed this one out the door, both in terms of hardware and software. With next-gen systems from Sony and MS just around the corner, the Kyoto developer would do well to stop slipping on banana peels and get a strong footing with this console before its too late.