Wii U: how backward compatible is it?

Wii U: how backward compatible is it?

Wii U

As has been known for some time, Nintendo's new console is hardware designed specifically to support full backward compatibility with the Wii catalog which, according to the Japanese company, should run smoothly on the new hardware. First impressions are positive and suggest full hardware backward compatibility, with the not indifferent bonus of being able to finally enjoy many games in full HDMI format. In reality, the conditional should be a must since, after an intense test session, we noticed a series of problems in the visualization of the games that could push the aficionados of the old consoles to keep the first Wii at home. >
The high definition format is a deceptive term after all: it is correct to say that it is probably the only new advantage offered by the new hardware, but even in this case the gaming experience may not be ideal for many a due to the limited range of RGB colors that can be displayed on the screen. The side effect is the proposition of dull and lackluster colors.

This has been confirmed by tests performed. We first tried Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition, choosing it for its 480p / PAL60 format. To this we have joined MadWorld, chosen because it does not support progressive scanning and is only viewable at an interlaced resolution of 576p. We were very curious to see how the Wii U HDMI would fare with this particular genre of games.

The results are interesting, since on the Wii U PAL, where 480p was supported in the original game, the video format is automatically scaled to HDMI without giving the user the option to choose whether to do so or not. While you might think this is the correct way to go, the fact is that some Wii players prefer to use the 576i format. PAL-optimized titles may suffer from this on the frame-rate front but compensate for this loss with a 17% gain in resolution. This choice is no longer possible on Wii U and it is a shame, since there was no reason not to make sure that everyone could find the right compromise according to taste or needs.

"The titles optimized for the PAL format may be affected in terms of frame-rate but compensate for this loss with a gain of 17% in terms of resolution "

Wii U forces the user to load in Wii mode to allow the use of old games. The situation of titles without progressive scan also deserves an analysis: although the system is locked at a resolution of 480p, the Wii U performs deinterlacing on the fly at 576p and 50Hz. The overall quality of the upscale is not that bad but, similar to what happened on the PS3 first way, there are some flare not particularly well managed on the more complicated textures where the interpolation does not produce the desired result. Games like MadWorld, which cannot be improved in resolution, keep a rather squashed letterboxed format, although it would have been pretty easy to introduce code that would check PAL edges and rescaling the image accordingly.

Overall Despite the limited RGB range issue and the inability to choose between 60Hz or PAL optimizations, the Wii U's backward compatibility via HDMI works pretty well. We also tried the same tests with component cable and were able to get around the color limitations. However, we have found that the Wii U PAL display options do not seem to have any effect on the color gamut of the console when playing older Wii titles. Our UK-branded unit was limited to interlaced 576p resolution; no PAL60 or 480p, two formats both supported by the original Wii hardware.

Other problems occurred with the virtual store during the procedure of transferring the titles purchased online for Wii on Wii U, very complicated and not very user-friendly friendly. In fact, you need to download a transfer tool on both consoles. Once done, you need to free up 512 MB of space on an SD from the new console and insert it into the old one. The transfer tool makes a copy of the data (saves, purchases, downloads) which must then be restored within the Wii U. All with the support of an Internet connection to complete a rather complicated process than on one of the editorial consoles was not completed correctly due to network connection problems.

"Despite the limited RGB range and the inability to choose between 60Hz or PAL optimizations, Wii U backward compatibility via HDMI works quite well."

Here's how the Wii U hardware scales (and in MadWorld's case deinterlaces) the original Wii titles. The Wii U generates standard definition resolutions at 720x480 or 720x576, while HDTV scales it all to 16: 9. All Wii titles are scaled to a letterbox format which generally works quite well. Artifacts, on the other hand, are visible for interlaced resolution games, as you can see in the MadWorld dialog box at the top right. While the caveats related to pure graphic compatibility are over, there are a couple of considerations to make before the farewell. Unfortunately backward compatibility up to the GameCube is not guaranteed: this means that if you used the original GC pad on the Wii before, now you are forced to buy a Classic Controller or even better a Classic Controller Pro to play on the Wii U. Some hackers have indeed succeeded. to load the GameCube operating system on the Wii U, confirming that backward compatibility is technically possible, but it is impossible to load anything due to the lack of interface support to the old controller. Surprisingly, there is no virtual store support for the GamePad or Pro Controller, so the old GameCube game collection won't work on the tablet display. A pity!

Taking into account the importance of backward compatibility in relation to the architectural design of the new born Nintendo, we cannot say that we were fully satisfied with the results of the tests. Users are put in a position to play but to the minimum wage; in particular, the PAL user is forced to submit to numerous problems. Too many to have gone unnoticed during the early stages of operating system development. We can therefore only hope that Nintendo will fix the problem with a robust patch as quickly as possible and, while it is there, propose an option that can support a decent color palette in RGB and the ability to handle video via HDMI and audio via AV.

Aside from that, many of the best titles in the entire Wii catalog are now available to new buyers at rock-bottom prices. If you have no problem looking beyond the wall of big pixels that not even new hardware can scratch and you have never owned a Wii, spending a few hours sifting through the catalog of the previous console to check out the best gems is an investment in terms of time. and money that we strongly advise you to make.

Translation by Matteo “Elvin” Lorenzetti.

Powered by Blogger.