Released back in 2012, the Wii U flopped harder than a drunk Dad jumping into a swimming pool on holidays! It’s marketing was confusing and most consumers (myself included) weren’t sure if it was an add on for the Wii or just a slightly beefed up version. Selling just over 13 million consoles compared to the Wii’s rather successful 100+ million, it was clear that nobody had any interest in the Wii U. With a catalog of just over 700 games it fell hard into obscurity. So why the fuck should you definitely buy one now?
2020 is the year where both Sony and Microsoft have completely committed to have last gen games running on their new fancy next gen consoles coming later this year. Nintendo have been doing this long before it was cool! The original Wii had GameCube controller ports built in and you could pop any GameCube disc in and play to your hearts content. The Wii U has all the architecture of the Wii built in and with the click of an icon, you can load up the old Wii home screen and play any Wii disc you want. So if the Wii U can act as a Wii and the Wii can act as a GameCube (can you see where I’m going) you potentially have three consoles in one. Thanks to some creative exploits, you can play every game from three generations of Nintendo consoles (and much more if you want to go the emulation route). There is also the added bonus that the Wii U supports HD, switching out component cables for HDMI which means the older games get upscaled and don’t look like garbage on your fancy flat screen TV.
Emulation Vs Backups
Emulation can be a dirty word among gaming purist. Using a program to mimic and render games is impressive but it’s rarely ever as flawless as the original. Frame rate issues, poor graphic rendering and wonky shaders can really let the side down. But here we’re not emulating!! We are playing backups of original games using hardware designed to play then as the games developers intended. These are not emulations of games, these are the actual games running natively on the Wii U which is a must have for collectors out there.
Soft modding your Wii U
I won’t go into the details here (you can look up many tutorial videos & guides) but the words soft modding are very important. The changes you make to your Wii U are done through software exploits and nothing gets physically altered which makes it quite safe and relatively accessible for all users. Downloading a game from the E-store and changing it to run homebrew is relatively pain free. If you make any mistakes during the process, a reboot or a formatting of the SD card is all you need to do to start again. There is no real opportunity to brick your console and when you don’t want to play your copied backups anymore, you can reboot and play the Wii U as normal.
Again I’m not going into the details here but I do want to cover how easy/hard it is. Confusing I know but it is easy in the sense that anyone can do it with a laptop and a memory card and even if you fuck it up, you can always start again. However it’s not a short quick steps process. It’s never as simple as copying and pasting and you do have quite a few steps to follow to get set up properly. The important thing to know though is that there are many brilliant tutorial videos out there that will get you through from start to finish. As long as you have a little patience…you’ll get there. Check out a few before you start and also make sure the videos you’re looking at are relatively recent and apply to the software version running on your Wii U.
Is it Legal?
Downloading backups or ROMs of games you don’t already own is definitely frowned upon. You should technically only download them for backup purposes but I’m not your Mom so go nuts!! You’ll find many sites where you can download but you should start with a program called ‘Wii U USB Helper’ to collate and inject a lot of Wii U games and others.
Yes, that is a key word when dealing with your downloads and worth googling some tutorials on. Injecting a game basically means that you’ll have a lovely icon and load screen for that game directly on your Wii U homescreen which looks great. Definitely look up tutorials on ‘TeconMoon Injector’ as this great app can inject both GameCube and Wii games while ‘Wii U USB Helper’ is best for injecting Wii U games.
N64 and before?
There are some N64 backups which run natively and this is because during the Wiis successful reign, they made some ports of old N64 games available to purchase on the vConsole. Other N64 titles will need to be emulated to run and this is hit or miss depending on the title. Snes & Nes games can be emulated through the likes of RetroArch and even though I’ve shit on emulation above, these earlier console’s gaming libraries can be emulated perfectly and are just as good as the originals.
Go Buy one!
So get your arse in gear. Check out your local bargain bins or second hand sales online. Whether you’re into Metroid Prime, Luigi’s Mansion, Mario Sunshine, Resident Evil Zero or even Breath of the Wild, you can’t go wrong getting to play them all for free (sorry Nintendo) on one console, in glorious HD. That’s what makes the Wii U an essential buy in 2020. Even belly flopping Dads impress from time to time!