Editorial: The Wii U Gamepad’s Kiss of Death

A great word to describe the Wii U in general is “potential,” while the system and its games had a great amount of potential it was unfortunately unable to deliver on many of its promises and ended up as a failure due to many marketing and hardware blunders on part of Nintendo. So, the question is then to see why the Wii U did so poorly, which is actually a variety of reasons, but the root cause of many of these problems can actually be attributed to the Wii U Gamepad. Upon announcement, players were worried about the size of the Gamepad and while some actually did take a liking to it (those usually with larger hands), there was also a large amount of people who would have preferred to just use the Wii U Pro Controller. The latter of which is actually a pretty good deal as its form stays in line with controllers on the market, probably closest to the Xbox 360 controller, and it has an insanely good battery life which was beloved by fans. Because of this, one can easily make the point that the biggest impediment for the Wii U was actually it’s flagship (gimmicky) Gamepad.

Just give consumers the better battery! The console was already sold for a loss, at least let them have this.
The original battery is on top, showing how Nintendo already made room for a larger battery.

First off, the Wii U Gamepad has a pathetic battery life that varies between 3-5 hours. Already this holds the console back as it is a limit on players because of how short it is. The cost of the Wii U Gamepad is also phenomenal as it sells in Japan for about 13,000 yen which equates to a little over $100. Since the Wii U’s basic edition’s original MSRP was $300, this means that about 1/3 of the price of the console was the controller. Now, while the Wii U was affordable in comparison to its competitors, this came at a price as it was also underpowered which was a large criticism of the Wii which Nintendo ignored as the Wii did sell over 100 million units. Ultimately, this was a mistake because rather than making the console more expensive in order to add on hardware that could at least *almost* compete with the current generation and a better hard drive, money instead went to the Gamepad which has severely dropped in popularity amongst developers as time moved on.

Do not tear it apart, he is just a baby!
The inside of a Wii U Gamepad.

Speaking of having to look at the Wii U Gamepad, the actual screen of the Wii U Gamepad pales in comparison to even the cheapest of televisions. One would think that if Nintendo wants to make the Gamepad the crowning jewel of the Wii U they would at least make it of a high quality. Instead, the Wii U Gamepad is a blurry mess and even then the usage of it does not go much farther than being a dedicated map or second screen. Despite being…themselves, Kotaku did put out a rather humorous review of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse where the entire review is put through a blur effect to illustrate how most of the game has to be played on the Wii U Gamepad rather than looking at the television. Even using the Gamepad as a map, the player must take their eyes off of the television and look at the controller, creating a clear cut from the game’s immersion which is not something players really look for in a game console.

Of course players want to draw mustaches on tv show characters!
Ah yes, the TVii, truly a King amongst men.

Last up is the usage of the Wii U Gamepad in terms of both CPU and how games used it. The Wii U is weak, but the fact that it has to render and send visuals to the Gamepad as well makes it less powerful. If, the Gamepad was used for innovation that added to the game the same way Wiimotes did (depending on who asks), maybe the actual visuals would not have been a problem as it is standard to have Nintendo release a less-powerful console. Unfortunately, the Gamepad never moved on from being anything more than a toy, as its most innovative features were spent up at launch with titles like Nintendo Land that offered creative asymmetrical gameplay, or novelties such as the 360 degree videos, which ended up being discontinued and was really only fun once or twice anyway.

So, there it is, a harsh but fair analysis of how the Gamepad can be seen as the root of a large amount of problems involved with the Wii U that were not bad marketing towards the consumers. While Adeki does still love his Wii U, much to Lusipurr’s anger, he is not blind to see the issues with the console and how it ended up being a failure. But hey, you know what console had squid girls? That’s right. If you also like squid girls or want to throw in your two cents about the Wii U, make sure to leave a comment below and let us know what you think!


  1. I love squid girls and I love using the Gamepad to play virtual console and indie games while someone can have something else on tv. I think a standalone device built like the gamepad that can run emulators would be great. While I do agree that it was poorly implemented by major games which are better played with the Pro controller more often than not (Splatoon is one big exception), I have found the benefit of its inclusion to outweigh its faults. But that opinion may vary with how each person uses the system.

  2. I do see what you mean as I have used the off-tv feature myself to play emulated games which is a really nice feature given that then the screen doesn’t necessarily have to be of a high resolution. As for Splatoon from what I’ve played from it I would agree that the Gamepad works wonders as I do really like to gyroscopic controls, but I think I’m in the camp of just thinking that the Gamepad does more harm than good overall as I feel like it impedes the console itself rather than compliments it. I’m glad you like your Gamepad though! I gotta admit that I really do like the button layout and the size is perfect for my sausage fingers, haha.

  3. The Gamepad is extremely comfortable, and off TV play is an extremely nice option to have.

    Here is where my praise for the Gamepad ends. The battery life is unforgivable, and I ended up unplugging my Wii U because there was no convenient place to plug in the charger while I played, which was a necessity because of the shit battery. Nintendo may as well have made it a corded controller for all the difference it would have made. Actually, a corded controller would have been more useful to me. The Wii U prevented me from playing games as I normally would, and fuck Nintendo for making every one of their consoles into an unpleasant compromise.

    It is a good thing that Nintendo are ceasing to produce home consoles, because they are fucking shit at it.

  4. 5927 947320Outstanding post, I feel weblog owners need to larn a whole lot from this weblog its actually user genial . 422778

  5. @SiliconNooB There’s definetly a large oversight when the controller can run out of battery in the middle of a play session, because it’s as if they are punishing the player for playing so long. While this is more understandable for a portable device which isn’t necessarily made to withstand long play sessions, the fact that a fully charged controller for a home console can run out in 4 hours is completely unacceptable.

    @qA4ZZGAbjF I’m with you buddy. Doing the Lord’s work over here.

  6. A look at the actual cost in creating even a <$99 Android tablet will tell you that Nintendo could have done much better for their Wii U customers. Instead, the Gamepad was built with a low resolution, resistive touch screen with terrible response time (hence the blurriness). Adding to this opprobrious mess Nintendo decided to use the battery from an early-2000's cordless home phone, which "helped" produce pathetic battery life – even with the ultra-low-end hardware.

    Coming back to that <$99 Android tablet, which certainly costs less than half of that to produce in a mass-produced industry of 400% markup, offers a capacitive touchscreen and longer battery life. The Wii U's Gamepad certainly offers clever functionality, but from a technical standpoint it's a comically poor hardware device that barely does what it needs to do.

  7. @Sebastian This is a solid examination and critique, why am I the one that writes for the site?

  8. Go into any games store and alongside the console hardware you ll find an accessories section complete with brand new game controllers. That has been the case for years and through multiple generations of hardware. However, there s one exception from the current generation of systems, and that is the Wii U .

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