The Wii U (codenamed Project Café in development) is an eighth generation home video game console produced by Nintendo as the successor to the Wii. It is Nintendo's first home console since the SNES to share a portion of its name with its predecessor. It was announced during Nintendo's conference at E3 2011. The main feature of the Wii U is its controller, the Wii U GamePad, which has a touch screen, camera, and other new features. According to Yoshiaki Koizumi, the Wii U was never shown to Nintendo's software development team prior to its unveiling at E3 2011. With the name "Wii" originating from the word "we", the "U" ("you") was added to reflect the console's intended appeal to single-player play as well as multiplayer. It is the home console counterpart of the Nintendo 3DS.
The Wii U was released in the United States on November 18, 2012, in Europe and Australia on November 30, 2012, and in Japan on December 8, 2012. However, it was discontinued in Europe on October 1, 2016, in the United States on November 10, 2016, in Australia on November 14, 2016, and in Japan on January 31, 2017. The Wii U was the third Nintendo console to be released in North America before Japan, the other two being the Wii and Nintendo DS. It is also the first home Nintendo console since the NES to be released before its competitors' consoles of the same generation were announced.
Like the Nintendo GameCube, the Wii U was unsuccessful in terms of sales. At 13.56 million units sold worldwide, it was Nintendo's worst-selling home console, with the Nintendo Switch outselling its lifetime sales in only nine months. Commonly cited reasons for the Wii U's weak sales include confusing marketing, complicated GamePad, few third-party titles, high initial pricing, and lack of DVD and Blu-ray playback.
The Wii U console resembles the Wii, except is much longer with rounder sides. It has a slot to insert 12-centimeter proprietary high-density optical discs as well as the Wii's DVD optical discs. The console can play high-definition games at 720p and 1080p, the first of Nintendo's consoles to do so. The console itself is approximately 4.6 cm tall, 17.3 cm wide, and 26.7 cm long. When placed horizontally, it slightly resembles the Wii Family Edition. It features IBM microprocessor technology inside.
The Wii U supports all the controllers (and respective peripherals) used with the Wii: the Wii Remote, the Nunchuk controller, the Wii Remote Plus, the Classic Controller, the Classic Controller Pro, and the Wii Balance Board. It is compatible with the Wii hardware and software; similar to the Wii Family Edition, however, it is not compatible with the Nintendo GameCube hardware or software. The Wii U is the first home Nintendo console whose controllers' analog sticks can be pressed down to act as extra buttons; although, the only Mario games that use these features are Super Mario 3D World, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, in which pressing the right analog stick resets the camera angle, and Super Mario Maker in which it is used to change the hand on the TV Screen in edit mode. It is also the first home Nintendo console whose controllers include perfectly circular analog stick movement.
The Wii U supports up to eight-player local play, as seen in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. It can support up to two GamePads, a feature not yet used for any games, though the Wii U GamePad was never sold at retail. The console has an internal flash memory, holding 8 GB for the standard set, and 32 GB for the deluxe set. Additionally, the Wii U has the option to expand its memory by using an external USB hard disk drive, however, even though the Wii U has an SD Card slot, SD Cards cannot be used for Wii U data storage (excluding Mii storage), though they can be used for storing Wii data via the Wii Menu only. This also means that Wii U game data cannot be transferred onto other Wii U systems on SD cards.
Wii U GamePad
The Wii U GamePad is the main controller of the Wii U console. The GamePad has a 6.2 inch (15.7 cm) resistive touchscreen in the center, and is the first ever controller for a home video game console to have this feature. Its button layout is somewhat similar to that of the Nintendo 3DS, having the traditional to the left of the screen and the , , , and buttons to the right. The GamePad has two traditional , one on each side of the screen and over the traditional buttons. The sticks are slightly displaced nearer to the edges of the controller and are clickable. The and buttons are located behind the GamePad, as are the and buttons. Below the screen is the button, situated between the microphone aperture and the battery light, and next to the light is the button. The select button and start button are found below the buttons. The button is directly below the screen right to the TV button. The controller also has a NFC sensor, able to read objects or codes near to the controller. The GamePad can be used with a stylus and features a frontal camera, a microphone, a stereo speaker, sensor strip, rumble system, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, rechargeable battery and built-in flash memory to store data.  Using the controller, one can browse the internet, send videos, flip channels, take screenshots, and connect to Miiverse while playing any game. It can also be used as universal TV control. Video chat is also included but cannot be executed while playing. Games for this console can be played on the TV screen, the controller screen, or a combination of both, known as asymmetric gameplay. The controller cannot be used to play Wii games, although its sensor can be used for playing Wii games and its screen can be used to display them. The GamePad had a port on the bottom which was most likely made to support accessories, including a concept Wii U Zapper, but accessories were never released most likely due to low sales and lack of third-party games that feature using third-party accessories.
Wii U Pro Controller
The Wii U Pro Controller is an alternate peripheral for the Wii U console. Introduced by Satoru Iwata in a Nintendo Direct video on June 3, 2012, the Wii U Pro Controller is somewhat similar to the Wii's Classic Controller and Classic Controller Pro and the GameCube Controller in its frontal button layout and the presence of grips, with all inputs functioning identically to their GamePad equivalents. Unlike previous alternate controllers, however, the , , , , and the are all found below the ; this is the only thing besides the button names that sets its layout apart from that of the Microsoft Xbox 360 controller. The player number lights from the Wii Remote and the , have been added in the center of the controller, as it is wireless and battery-powered. The Wii U Pro Controller is also slightly bulkier than the Wii's wired controllers, and the and are arranged differently as actual trigger buttons as on the GamePad, closest to how they were arranged on the Classic Controller Pro. The controller shares the same battery as the 3DS and can last working for approximately 80 hours. When using it in menus, the left controls the pointer. Like the Wii U GamePad, the Pro Controller is incompatible with Wii games, even those that use the Wii Classic Controller (e.g. Mario Kart Wii).
GameCube Controller Adapter
The GameCube Controller Adapter is a peripheral allowing use of Nintendo GameCube controllers for compatible Wii U games. It was announced on May 29, 2014 during a video published by Nintendo overviewing the Super Smash Bros. Invitational at E3 2014, and has been confirmed to be released during the 2014 holiday season. It has four ports for GameCube controllers, and plugs into the Wii U through two USB ports; one is for power, while the other is for receiving and sending input. It launched alongside Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, in addition to a bundle that features the game, the adapter, and a Super Smash Bros.-themed GameCube controller. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the only Wii U game that supports the GameCube adapter. As of system version 4.0.0, the GameCube adapter is compatible with the Nintendo Switch as well.
amiibo is a line of figurines usable in compatible Wii U and Nintendo 3DS titles. By placing a figure on the Wii U GamePad's , the amiibo is able to interact with the game. The product line launched on November 21, 2014, with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U as the first title to be compatible with the line. amiibo functionality is also featured in Mario Kart 8 as of version 3.0, and in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Mario Party 10, Yoshi's Woolly World, and Super Mario Maker. Certain amiibo figures are also compatible with multiple games (e.g. the Super Smash Bros. Mario is compatible with Mario Kart 8 and Mario Party 10, having the amiibo functionality programmed for those games).
In addition to being compatible with Wii software, the Wii U is also compatible with most Wii controllers and accessories.
Systems in the Nintendo 3DS family can be used as controllers in certain Wii U games. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is an example of a game that can use this feature.
Appearances of peripherals in the Mario series
Game & Wario
A controller bearing a striking resemblance to the Wii U GamePad appears in several cutscenes of this game.
Mario Party 10
Yoshi's Woolly World
Although the Wii U itself does not appear in this game, Wii U Deluxe Yoshi is an unlockable Yoshi design based on the Wii U Deluxe.
WaraWara Plaza (from the Japanese term 「わらわら」 warawara, meaning "bustling" in English) is the main menu for Wii U. This feature allows players to see Miis on-screen gathering around accessible tiles. The Miis represent all the player's friends, familiars, and miscellaneous individuals who are using the service, and the tiles they are surrounding represent where they are communicating in real time. Because the tiles were integrated with Miiverse, the user could explore the topics on every tile and look up what games their friends were playing. WaraWara Plaza also offers chat, video conference, and information sharing, and it can be quickly accessed even when playing a game by pressing the button. The WaraWara Plaza had a different design shown in Nintendo Direct's pre-E3 video, as it featured some game icons in the middle of the plaza. For users without a Nintendo Network ID or with Miiverse banned by Parental Controls, and following Miiverse's termination, WaraWara Plaza instead shows the pre-installed apps on the Wii U such as the Nintendo eShop and the System Settings.
Miiverse was a social networking service designed for players to share ideas and comments on the games they are playing. Players could make posts in game communities where others could respond to them, as well as follow other users and add friends. First released on the Wii U and the Internet, Miiverse was subsequently released on the Nintendo 3DS, smartphones, computers, etc.
On November 7th, 2017, at 10:00 PM PST, the Miiverse service was discontinued.
Wii U Chat
Wii U Chat was a built-in application allowing users to communicate in real-time with other Wii U owners using the inner camera of the Wii U GamePad. Apart from this, it also allows the user to draw designs on the touchscreen so they appear on the face of the person they are conversing with. The video chat can be displayed on both the television screen and the GamePad, meaning TV programs can still be watched while talking to the person. Wii U Chat in itself confirmed that applications such as Skype would not be seen on Wii U. Wii U Chat was originally made available with a system update released on launch day via a wireless Internet connection.
On November 7th, 2017, at 10:00 PM PST, the Wii U Chat service was discontinued alongside Miiverse.
Nintendo's current online shop service, first released on the Nintendo 3DS, is also present on Wii U. The Nintendo eShop was first made available on the system through a system update released on launch day via a wireless Internet connection. With the eShop, users can download exclusive Wii U software, demos and videos, as well as view information on upcoming games, and some Wii titles are available as digital downloads. Virtual Console games for NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS are also available. These games can be played on the Wii U GamePad via Off-TV Play; games transferred over from a Wii console do not support Off-TV Play nor do they support other Wii U Virtual Console features, but they can be upgraded to Wii U Virtual Console games for a discounted price.
A new television based service by Nintendo debuted on the Wii U. Together with Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and YouTube, Nintendo TVii (pronounced 'Nintendo TVee'), collected and collaborated these services so they could be enjoyed on one software. This service was free although the subscriptions for Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon were not. Videos on TVii could be playable on both the television screen and the GamePad. It also provided instant information from Wikipedia and IMDb about the film or program the users were currently watching. Control over the user's DVR was also possible via the service.
Nintendo TVii could only be received through a system update released on launch day via a wireless Internet connection, and was delayed and eventually canceled in Europe and Oceania. It was discontinued on August 11, 2015, in North America and November 8, 2017, in Japan.
The Wii Menu is a built in section on the Wii U Menu. It takes players to the Wii Menu from the Wii so they can play Virtual Console games, original Wii and WiiWare games. There is a Wii Shop Channel where players can purchase downloadable games or download the Wii to Wii U System Transfer to transfer the data from the Wii to the Wii U. The Wii Menu serves the same function as that of the original Wii menu.
The following channels have been pre-installed:
The following channels were pre-installed on Wii consoles, but were not included:
A system update released after the Wii U launched provided the user the ability to hold when turning on the console. This will automatically take the user to the Wii Menu without having to go through the Wii U menu first.
Another system update released after the Wii U's initial launch in the fall of 2013 provided the option of using the GamePad as well to view the Wii Menu, where a sensor bar is built-in to the GamePad to provide Wii Remote support. A Wii Remote is still required to use Wii mode; the GamePad cannot be used as a controller for Wii software.
On January 14, 2015, Nintendo began digitally re-releasing Wii games on the Nintendo eShop that can be started directly from the Wii U Menu, bypassing the Wii Menu. Unlike the disc-based games, the Wii U Pro Controller and Wii U GamePad can be used in any games that support the classic controller. However, a Wii Remote is still required to start up the game. Digital Wii titles also include a digital version of the original manual like Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 64 VC games.
Physical and digital games
Exclusive Nintendo eShop games