Gaming Consoles & PCs The Wii U GamePad: Portable Game System? Share Pin Email Print Nintendo Consoles & PCs Xbox Buyer's Guide By Nadia Oxford Writer Nadia Oxford is a former Lifewire writer with 10+ years' experience. Her articles have appeared in Pocket Games Magazine, Play Magazine, Game Pro, IGN and others. our editorial process Twitter Nadia Oxford Updated October 07, 2019 29 29 people found this article helpful Nintendo's Wii U is a home video game console and the successor to the Wii. It competes with the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4. The Wii U GamePad is the standard controller for the Wii U game console. It looks like a portable game system, but it doesn't work like a Nintendo 3DS or Nintendo DS. The Wii U GamePad Is a Controller The Wii U is not a portable gaming system, and unlike the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo 3DS, the controller is not meant to be played outside the house or anywhere away from the Wii U console. Like the Wii, the Wii U console is meant to be played indoors. Its most prominent feature is the 6-inch touchscreen embedded in its controller, which makes it easy to see why it might be mistaken for a portable game system. The GamePad controller has controls that look familiar to anyone who has ever used a DS or 3DS. However, it is not a freestanding device. You can take a Nintendo DS or 3DS anywhere, and it works. If you separate the Wii U GamePad controller from the Wii U console, it does not work. How the Wii U Controller Works The Wii U controller wirelessly beams information to and from the Wii U console using a proprietary transfer protocol and software. The console is an essential part of the Wii U system. Without it, the controller is useless. Even though you can opt to play Wii U games on the controller's embedded screen instead of on television when you are in a room with the console, the controller is not a separate game console, but it has a lot of cool features. When the Wii U GamePad is near the Wii U console, it can: Provide second-screen functionalityBe used to play a game solely on the GamePad without a TV displayBe used as a television remote controlWork in conjunction with other compatible Wii controllers Facilitate visual chat using the controller's front-facing camera About the Wii U Console and GamePad When you buy a Wii U, the console, a GamePad and necessary connectors come in the box. If more than one person is going to play, you'll need to buy an additional controller, but it won't be a GamePad because the Wii U doesn't support more than one. If you own or plan to buy a lot of games, you may need an external drive because the Wii U console doesn't have a lot of storage room. The Wii U supports external drives that are plugged into one of four USB ports on the console. Nintendo maintains a list of compatible external drives. The Wii U console is backward compatible with earlier Wii games, and there are plenty of great games available. Other accessories include you might want to add include a microphone, headset, and racing wheel.