Game consoles and technology get more and more complicated with every generation but it often feels like the manufacturers try and make it simpler and simpler to use and to get up and running. This is not a bad thing by any means but you get a surprise when it feels like the opposite happens. The Wii U came out two years ago with two versions. The Basic 8gb pack and the 32gb Deluxe pack. The Basic pack has been reduced and reduced in price to the point where it is available for around £150 but is this a viable console?
In a word no. Or not quite. The obvious part first – there is only 8gb of storage memory. Once you have the OS installed and updated and updated and updated that leaves about 2GB of space which is nowhere near enough to run a full size Wii U game. You can plug in an external hard disk drive but there are caveats – it needs to be externally powered and Nintendo has a very small list of recommended drives which it is unlikely you have lying around unused. USB sticks can be used but as games cannot be spread across storage they really need to be at least 16Gb to take a full game. They also cannot be hot-switched. To go from one stick to another you need to power the console down, unplug and replug. 16Gb memory stick £5.18.
One of the Wii U’s selling points is that it is backwards compatible with the Wii. This is true but to make it work you need a sensor bar and at least one wiimote controller. If you have an old Wii you can steal the parts from it but otherwise you will need to buy them to be able to play Wii games. Sensor bar £4.70 and Wiimote £11.55.
Finally the Basic pack does not come with any games. Out of the box you can download demos or some paid games from their built-in store but there is no full scale game with which to try playing. If you would not have been interested in any of the bundled games available this is not a factor.
So is the Wii U Basic a viable console? Yes. To be able to play more than demos you absolutely have to get more space but if you are willing to use a USB stick per game this is an inconvenience only. If you are upgrading from a Wii you already have the sensor bar and Wiimote but even if not they are not that expensive.