Nintendo’s Wii U is a bit of an anomaly. Some devs are saying that it’s on par with the Xbox 360 and PS3, while others say it isn’t quite up to spec. With the machine’s final specifications apparently not quite locked down yet, nobody really knows.
Most developers though seem to echo the sentiment that the Wii U isn’t a powerhouse.
"No, it’s not up to the same level as the PS3 or the 360," said one developer of Nintendo’s impending HD console. "The graphics are just not as powerful."
"Yeah, that’s true,” affirmed another. “It doesn’t produce graphics as well as the PS3 or the 360. There aren’t as many shaders, it’s not as capable. Sure, some things are better, mostly as a result of it being a more modern design. But overall the Wii U just can’t quite keep up."
While Nintendo fans are eagerly awaiting the new console, there are a fair number of console gamers who’re looking at the Wii U as a stopgap between this and the next generation. Those people might be disappointed.
"Assumptions that Wii U games will look like ‘up rezzed’ current-gen titles with better textures aren’t quite right. They’ll look just as good, but not better," a developer told CVG. "You shouldn’t expect anything special from a graphics point of view," they added.
Another of CVG’s sources says that the machine is graphically capable – but its underpowered CPU doesn’t allow for the sort of AI and physics you’re already accustomed to.
"We’re still working on dev machines but there have definitely been some issues [in porting PS3/360 games]," the source confirmed. "It’s not actually a problem getting things up and running because the architecture is pretty conventional, but there are constraints with stuff like physics and AI processing because the hardware isn’t quite as capable."
"I suppose you don’t need sophisticated physics to make a Mario game," he said cheekily.
Nintendo’s responded to those claims, saying that it’s all about the gaming experience – and not about raw numbers – comments that are eerily reminiscent of their stance on the Wii.
"We do not focus on technology specs," Nintendo said to Digital Trends.
"We understand that people like to dissect graphics and processing power, but the experience of playing will always be more important than raw numbers."
It’s a strategy that worked incredibly well for Nintendo this generation; the Wii is still the top selling current-gen console world-wide – but I’m not entirely convinced it’ll work out as well the next time around. The masses that bought the Wii aren’t really gamers, and likely won;t be interested in any race to upgrade; and “core” gamers won’t migrate unless there’s a compelling reason to do so, and worse graphicsand poorer physics is hardly compelling.