With Christmas and Black Friday fast approaching, it's time for our annual console buyer's guides packed with useful advice, cheap console bundle deals and the best games bargains for the hottest software. Now we're set to focus on the Wii U, which has become an essential purchase for any serious gamer.
No, really. Nintendo's console spent two years amassing an incredible games library of killer titles, built on exceptional quality and crowned by some of the very best games of 2014. In this guide we'll discuss the hardware, software and then the cheapest place to get up and running.
Wii U Bundle Deals!
If you're willing to make do with 8GB of onboard storage (more on that later), there are plenty of smart bargains to be had before Black Friday. ShopTo are running a tasty deal on the Basic White Wii U console with Super Smash Bros, an official GameCube Controller, adaptor, Nintendo Land, Wii Party U and an extra WiiMote+ for £219. Thanks to Gamer_U @ HUKD!
- Click here to buy a Basic Wii U bundle with Super Smash Bros, Gamecube controller, Nintendo Land, Wii Party U and a WiiMote+ for £219.85 from ShopTo >>
Rakuten's SPEND40 voucher code is still bringing home the bacon, allowing you to grab a basic Wii U with Just Dance 2014 and Nintendo Land for a cheeky £169.99. Thanks to oUkTuRkEyIII @ HUKD!
- Click here to buy a Basic Wii U bundle with Just Dance 2014 and Nintendo Land for £159.99 at ShopTo (via Rakuten) >>
Well-heeled Mario Kart superfans will probably enjoy Nintendo's Wii U Mario Kart 8 Mega Bundle, containing the Premium Console, Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, Special red Mario Wimote Plus, Red Mario steering wheel, red GamePad skin and even a hat for £299.00! Thanks to MadeInBeats @ HUKD!
Bayonetta fans may want to consider getting 2014's potential GOTY, Bayonetta 2, in a bundle with a basic Wii U, Bayonetta 1, Nintendo Land, Wii Party U and a spare WiiMote+ controller for £199.85 from ShopTo (which is sadly no longer discounted as per Wildcrumble's excellent HUKD deal!).
Naturally we expect Black Friday to be bountiful for cheap Wii U bundles, but this is the level you want to match or preferably beat!
Wii U: The Basics
As explained in our Wii U hardware review, Nintendo's console really is a simple and effective bit of kit. A straightforward games console with an at-a-glance UI, a few media applications such as Netflix, but otherwise a dedicated die-hard games machine. The only real frippery is the GamePad peripheral boasting traditional controller inputs alongside a touchscreen, which offers surprisingly useful functionality despite many developers failing to incorporate it into games in common-sense ways. Your existing WiiMotes and Pro Controllers are both supported on a game-by-game basis, while Wii U disc games can be fully emulated, making the Wii U the only backwards-compatible home console this generation.
However, Nintendo has been tweaking and tuning the firmware over the last few years. Downloads are much faster now, while workflow and loading times have all been pruned. Sadly, it's still worth noting that your digital purchases are registered to your console as opposed to your account.
The Wii U used to be available in two editions -- Basic and Premium -- the difference being 8GB versus 25GB of onboard flash storage. The choice used to be obvious, but now the Basic line has been discontinued and unsold batches end up in screaming deals, as you can see in the bundles above. If you're willing to buy an external hard drive (more on that later), it might be worth securing a basic version if you can get a major discount.
Finally, it's worth noting that the Wii U offers an incredible in-built social network known as MiiVerse. At any time you can access a wealth of game-specific forums, post screenshots, ask for advice and generally hang out in a really nice and friendly community. It's fantastic, and doubly convenient now you can view it in-browser and on 3DS too.
If you've played Skylanders or Disney Infinity, you know what to expect from Amiibo. Nintendo's range of figurines come equipped with NFC chips that store game save data, allowing you to (for example) take a custom Super Smash Bros moveset over to someone else's house. The Wii U GamePad already houses an NFC receiver/transmitter, so don't worry, you won't need to buy an extra peripheral.
Unfortunately, though, each Amiibo can only hold data for a single game, which seems like a bit of a waste to us. Still, we suspect that these will sell like hot cakes.
Thanks to kakah @ HUKD!
Peripherals, Controllers & Extras
The Wii U can only support one GamePad, so there's no point picking up another one. However, it's worth noting that the standard battery is woefully poor, so you might want to think about picking up the official Wii U GamePad high capacity battery upgrade kit. Deals are usually few and far between for this piece of kit, so definitely keep an eye out come Black Friday.
In terms of controllers, your existing WiiMotes are fully compatible, but it might be worth grabbing a Pro Controller for more hardcore players. It's a nifty bit of kit, even if the legacy thumbstick placement takes some getting used to.
- Click here to buy a Wii U Pro Controller for £29.00 at Tesco (use new account voucher code TDX-HQ9T!) >>
Super Smash Bros. aficionados will also want to grab some newly-minted GameCube controllers for that extra authenticity, at least if they don't already have one lying around. You'll need an adaptor (bundled with the game in certain editions). However, Amazon have the best prices around at the moment for the Hori Battle Pads, which retain the same shape yet are Wii U controllers underneath. Thanks Gamer_U at HUKD!
- Click here to pre-order the Luigi Smash Bros controller for Wii U for £23.85 from Amazon
- Click here to pre-order the Mario Smash Bros controller for Wii U for £23.85 from Amazon
Though Nintendo still strongly support the disc retail market, their eShop is finally up to fighting strength with a great selection of games... that will fill up your onboard flash storage very quickly indeed. The occasional deal, demo, DLC and eShop exclusive can all but fill your hard drive to the brim.
So you'll probably want to think about picking up an external hard drive for extra storage , but they have to be self-powered. No flash drives either.
Now we're talking. The Wii U's game library is exceptional; built on quality you rarely see these days and guaranteed to provide hours of rock-solid entertainment. No achievements or frippery, just hand-crafted excellence. We're going to start with the big guns of the holiday season.
"Bayonetta 2 is mechanically perfect, yet it is also a game that is stuffed with personality and wit and charm and an abundance of ideas and imagery and symbolism that its poor story cannot hope to make sense of or contain. But that's okay -- it is the finest game Platinum have ever made, and the best thing to grace the Wii U thus far." - 10/10 review
- Click here to buy Bayonetta 2 for £29.95 from The Game Collection >>
- Click here to buy Bayonetta 2 and original Bayonetta for £39.85 from Amazon or ShopTo >>
Super Smash Bros
Super Smash Bros has yet to release, but having tried it out numerous times, we're really rather excited about this long-awaited, feature-packed and gorgeous-looking brawler. Bring it on!
- Click here to pre-order Super Smash Bros for £36.95 from The Game Collection >>
- Click here to pre-order Super Smash Bros and the GameCube controller adaptor for £47.99 from 365Games >>
"Hyrule Warriors doesn't pretend to be anything that it isn't. It does exactly what it says on the tin, producing what is probably the best Warriors game to date, and doing so by taking many of the best aspects of The Legend of Zelda and successfully incorporating them into the classic 1-vs-1000 gameplay. The fan service is astonishing, the level of detail very welcome indeed, and the action can be truly satisfying, with the various bosses going a long way to making the repetitive action seem quite refreshing at times. A triumphant mash-up indeed." - 8/10 review
Make sure to use voucher code SPEND10 (new customers only). Thanks to rimz790 @ HUKD! In case the voucher expires or you don't want to set up yet another account, The Game Collection are selling for £31.95.
Mario Kart 8
"Mario Kart 8 is a great example of how to keep a 20-odd year old franchise relevant. It isn't shy to give you what you've already had before with it's predictable racing fun. But conversely it also offers up so much more with this latest installment thanks to brilliant track design, item tweaking, customisation and a strong online offering to keep you coming back for more for months to come." - 9/10 review
Sadly we've just missed a couple of absolutely insane deals (down to £30.49), but this is the cheapest price at present.
Simply divine. Sadly Nintendo didn't dispatch a review copy in time to cover it last year, but take it from us that Super Mario 3D World is one of the best platformers out there, and the equal of Rayman Legends. Use voucher code SPEND40 for the extra discount (new customers only). Thanks to sneakyduck @ HUKD! If this doesn't work for you, The Game Collection are currently sitting pretty on a cheap £33.95 backup deal. EarthBound is still one of the best JRPGs ever made, ever, ever, no seriously ever. Time to delete your ROMs, everyone! I'd also suggest considering Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, The Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, ZombiU and more. There are so many exquisite games on Wii U.
Super Mario 3D World
Simply divine. Sadly Nintendo didn't dispatch a review copy in time to cover it last year, but take it from us that Super Mario 3D World is one of the best platformers out there, and the equal of Rayman Legends.
Use voucher code SPEND40 for the extra discount (new customers only). Thanks to sneakyduck @ HUKD! If this doesn't work for you, The Game Collection are currently sitting pretty on a cheap £33.95 backup deal.
EarthBound is still one of the best JRPGs ever made, ever, ever, no seriously ever. Time to delete your ROMs, everyone!
I'd also suggest considering Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, The Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, ZombiU and more. There are so many exquisite games on Wii U.