The Wii U launches today and we've been spending time with it in order to bring you some early impressions.
Our particular console of choice was the Zombi U premium package which includes the following content: 32GB; Wii U Console Black; ZombiU Game; Wii U GamePad; Wii U Pro Controller; Wii U GamePad Stylus; Wii U GamePad Cradle; Wii U GamePad Stand; Wii U Console Stand; Wii U AC Adapter; AC Adapter; Wii U GamePad AC Adapter; HDMI Cable (1.5m) and Sensor Bar. This package also includes some rather nice Zombi U box art too, which is ideal for those who like to keep the box for new console releases.
Obviously most people are interested in the console and in this case the GamePad and to be honest, despite some early reports, you should not be disappointed. Setting the console up is the standard affair, plug in your HDMI cable, the sensor bar and your console and hit the power button to get started. Once you do this you'll realise that everything is set up using the GamePad, so one of the first things you'll need to do is sync the console and the GamePad with each other. This is a simple process really which will only take a few seconds to complete. Other set up options include setting the time; wifi and you Mii, which you can also link to your Club Nintendo account. Once these pleasantries are out the way you can also set up a Nintendo Network account. It's all fairly straight forward really.
While most people would probably be keen to play with their new toy, I for one wanted to update the console so that I could see all of its features, therefore I accepted the option to update and proceeded to waiting around 1 hour and 15 minutes for the update to complete - a far cry from the 3 hours that most people were suggesting it took. Once the update completed I then had access to all the day one features such as MiiVerse; Netflix; LoveFilm and the Nintendo E Store.
One of the first places of call for me was the Nintendo E Store, which is controlled completely via the GamePad. At the time of writing the only demo live was for FIFA 13; I was hoping for a Rayman Legends demo, but to no avail. Games to buy meanwhile include most of the launch titles, although they are very expensive; Assassin's Creed III is 54.99 GBP for instance. There are a few digital titles on there which look quite interesting, but again they seem a little on the expensive side; perhaps developers are taking advantage of the consoles day one status?
Another option I was keen to try was Netflix. I have to say that this is probably the best version I have tested yet. You can flick through the catalogue using the GamePad, allowing you to choose the TV show/Movie of your choice. When you start a program it'll show on the main screen, while the information for the show will be displayed on the GamePad. You can also switch to watching Netflix on the Gamepad and listen through the built in speakers or via headphones. The main option Netflix seems to be crying out for is the ability to flick through the catalogue while watching a program, although this is not an option at the moment.
Given that we have a lot of reviews to write thanks to the huge catalogue of launch titles, I haven't spent too much time on other areas of the console, what I will say though is that reports of it being sluggish and slow seems to be highly exaggerated. So far I feel it's a pretty seamless experience which is very easy to use. The GamePad seems like a great feature to have, although I'm not sure if the novelty will wear off or not.
One thing I wanted to mention was that starting up most applications at the moment seems to result in an update, giving you a little wait before you start the game/app. I'm not sure if the system will update automatically in the future and in any case, the updates don't seem to take too long, but it's certainly worth nothing.
Obviously these are just my quick impressions of my experience so far. At the moment I'm quite impressed, which is great because Nintendo consoles don't generally excite me too much. At the moment I love the feel of the GamePad and the unique features that it brings, however I know that now and in the future, it'll be the games which are the most important aspect of the Wii U.