The Coolest Things About the Wii U

Beyond the big selling points of The Wii U, such as asynchronous gameplay, HD graphics, off-TV play, there are also a lot of cool little things—cute touches and small surprises—that one discovers over time. Here are ten unexpected little things about the Wii U.

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Rounded Disc Edges

Wii U disc

While most media disks are flat on the side, Wii U disks have rounded edges. There’s no particular advantage to this, but it feels soft and comfy in your hands.

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Playing in the John

Fatal Frame: Maiden of Blackwater
The gamepad perfectly realizes Fatal Frame's unique camera weapon. Nintendo

One of the selling points for the Wii U is offscreen play in which you can cede the TV to someone you live with and continue to play on the gamepad. Even when the TV is free, though, this feature is handy when you’re obsessed with a game but you just can’t hold it in. If the bathroom isn’t too far from the console, you can keep playing on your porcelain throne. Just don’t drop it in the toilet!

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Always Available TV Remote

Wii U as TV remote

It’s nice that the Wii U gamepad can be used as a TV remote, but what’s especially nice is you don’t have to power on the console to use it. This is great for someone like me who is constantly mislaying my TV remote.

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The Browser


I play a lot of games on my Wii U, but if you look at my game history, you'll see the thing I "play" the most is the console's Internet Browser. I use it stream videos from my PC using Plex. I use it when I'm stuck in a game to search for youtube playthroughs. I use it when my girlfriend and I want to look up something on Wikipedia and read it together. Even if there were no games for it, I would still be using my Wii U for that browser.

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menu folders

Sometimes wishes do come true, and a common wish gamers had for the Wii U was a way to organize their many downloaded games into folders. You couldn't when the Wii U launched, but eventually, a system update gave us folders, and life became just a little bit better.

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Non-Splitscreen Splitscreen

Call of Duty Black Ops II

Splitscreen gameplay is never ideal. First off, you’re using half a TV. Secondly, it's easy to forget which screen is yours. That’s why it was so exciting to see Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 on the Wii U, where you could exchange split screen for an arrangement where one gamer uses the TV while the other uses the gamepad screen.

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Watching Videos While Surfing the Internet

browse Plex

When you start playing a youtube video, you’ll see it on both your TV and gamepad. But tap the little arrow at the bottom and the video will disappear from the gamepad, leaving just the navigation bar above your browser window, while continuing to play on the TV. It’s a multitasker’s dream machine.

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Help From a Screenshot

Miiverse Help reqest

You’re facing a monster. You have no idea what to do. You’re not sure what level you’re in or what the monster is called so you can’t even google for an answer. What do you do? Well, in the old days you would go to a gamer forum and type a detailed description of what was happening in hopes someone could help you. In the age of Miiverse, you post a screenshot of the monster, and type “what am I supposed to do here?” The only hard part is waiting for an answer.

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On-Disk Manuals

menu screen

Game manuals are fading away; often all you get in the game box is a cover and a note telling you that instructions can be downloaded online. But hit the home button on the gamepad and you have access to a nicely laid out manual for the current game. Still, while eminently practical, it’s not nearly as much fun as those old Infocom manuals.

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Miiverse Art

Miiverse Art

When Nintendo first showed us a mock-up of the Wii U’s opening Warawara Plaza screen that shows Miis chatting about games, it mainly showed text bubble comments and questions alongside a couple of simple sketches and handwritten notes. But the real Warawara Plaza is a revolving art gallery of elaborate black and white sketches created by Miiverse users. That’s the beauty of technology; some of its coolest uses are unknown to its creators.

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