Attack of the Fanboy

Are these the preliminary specs for Nintendo’s Wii U?

by William Schwartz


Nintendo is set to re-reveal the Wii U to the world later this year, with a full out launch sometime in 2012.  Today, proposed preliminary specs for the console hit NeoGaf, and sound alot like what many have been predicting for the console.  A forum goer by the name of “IdeaMan” leaked a few details about the forthcoming console, which may or may not be true.

The NeoGaf user explained “The games concerned run ALL in 720p on the main screen. For now, from the mouths of my sources, it’s not a console that looks to manage software with complex engines with such ease that their resolution might be 1080p, even at 30 fps. The 720p resolution is best suited for these titles to have a smooth framerate, in addition of the subscreen.


Games have an intensive use of the padlet. More concretely, 3D scenes, different angle of what is on the TV (bird eye view for example). The system is therefore capable of displaying a main screen of AT LEAST comparable quality than current gen versions in 720p (with I guess, a certain amount of AA, etc.) AND another 480p content on the tablet.”  We saw this in action with the Tokyo Streets demo that Nintendo showed earlier this year.  IdeaMan also points out a few other bits of information about the upcoming console, and while they all sound entirely plausible, they are unconfirmed by Nintendo.

The titles are ports that will be available on actual HD platforms, or more “exclusive” ones but build on inhouse engines already deployed in previous softs. They aren’t tailored from A to Z for the Wii U particularities. And everything is still in development, + dependent of the evolution of dev kits that are changing regularly (at least until now). So it can only improve, and the situation may be different for Nintendo and first-party titles.

The dev kit involved are the V4 ones. The “V5” is a little more powerful, but apparently not to a point to push these games from 720p to 1080p.

My sources added that the resolution is the one chosen for now, but a hypothetical other power boost that may occurring post V5 need to be important to allow the system to run these games properly in 1080p.

The games will change in the visual department as, like I said, some effects will be applied more in the “end” of the development, with perhaps graphical features not handled by current gen, thanks to the more modern Wii U GPU. So the end result on the main screen will be prettier than on PS360, with a higher resolution (many current gen titles are not true 720p) and especially in conjunction with a heavy use of the tablet. We might expect that games leaving it for simple things will be even more impressive on the TV.


From these informations, several speculations can be derived as:  The possibility that games with simple engines, such as family titles, Mii-based ones, etc, will be in 1080p. Maybe other developers, with a simplistic use of the padlet + after all the optimizations and hardware boosts/tweaking until the dev kit finalization (if they are only moderate and not extensive to a point that it will change this situation completely), will release games in 1080p (with less AA than on 720p, less FPS, etc.), but it doesn’t seems possible AT the moment, if they want their titles to reach a certain level of sophistication and quality in visuals on the TV + intricate use of the subscreen.

I guess we can speculate further on the power and the amount of some components with this, such as memory /buffer, the GPU…

Who IdeaMan’s sources are is unknown, but it sure sounds like he has alot of inside information about the upcoming console.  He concluded with the following.

“All these infos are related to my previous posts (it’s the same context) about the hardware power scale, the impressions of my sources, the tablet usage, the memory, the surprising amount of RAM occupation from the OS/Background (it will surely be better and therefore have a positive impact on the general performances, etc.).

Nothing revolutionary as I said, but it can help narrowing a little more the Wii U capacities in this particular context, what you can expect from third parties ports/not exclusive games (because having followed each page of these threads, I saw many gafers who are expecting these titles to be the 1080p versions of their current gen counterparts, but for now, it’s not the case). This does not necessarily mean that the Wii U is underpowered EITHER: manage a visually ambitious game in a solid 720p & framerate, at the minimum a bit prettier than on Xbox 360 + an additional 480p screen with a complex scene rendered on it, is not a small thing.”

If these specs turn out to be true, they would fall in line with what many are expecting from the next generation Nintendo machine.  Not quite a quantum leap from the current generation, but a definite improvement with that Nintendo special sauce to make you forget all about some of the technical shortcomings once the next generation offerings from Microsoft and Sony arrive.  Nintendo will likely be tight lipped about the upcoming hardware, but with E3 getting closer each day, it won’t be long until we have all the details about this next generation console.

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