It’s common knowledge Nintendo’s Wii U isn’t exactly the most powerful console currently available to consumers these days. Depending on who you talk to, that title belongs to Sony’s PlayStation 4 or Microsoft’s Xbox One — both of which boast far more horsepower than the Big N’s current hardware.
While you might not catch Nintendo outright admitting its console is the weakest of the next-generation bunch, some of its executives haven’t shied away from the claim. Case in point, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime previously reminded us that the most powerful console didn’t win the previous two hardware cycles, with the Wii and PS2 reigning supreme against their more powerful adversaries.
However, according to Retro Studios president and CEO Michael Kelbaugh, whose company recently released Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (check out Game Rant‘s review of Tropical Freeze to find out how awesome we thought it was), the Wii U is “powerhouse” in its own right and is a very capable machine. This statement came forth in a recent interview between Kelbaugh and GameSpot, and it reconfirms the faith that Nintendo’s subsidiaries hold in the struggling platform.
“Unfortunately, the perception is that it’s not a very powerful machine. That’s just not true. It’s a powerhouse. It’s more than adequate to make great games on.”
Retro Studios’ previous console title was Donkey Kong Country Returns on the Wii after developing a the complete Metroid Prime trilogy that surfaced on both the Nintendo GameCube and Wii. Getting to finally develop for Nintendo’s next-generation hardware was a welcomed opportunity, Kelbaugh said.
“It was really fun being able to crack that open for the first time and learning HD techniques; pixel shading, having a lot more horsepower and how that impacts the team. It was really fun to watch our artists just go crazy because now they didn’t really have to worry about polygons anymore.”
As happy as Kelbaugh is about the Wii U’s power, not all developers feel the same. An anonymous third-party developer recently told Eurogamer his company had to make concessions due to the Wii U’s underpowered central processing unit.
“As we originally feared, trying to support a detailed game running in HD put a lot of strain on the CPUs and we couldn’t do as much as we would have liked,” the developer wrote. “Cutting back on some of the features was an easy thing to do, but impacted the game as a whole.”
He did say, however, the Wii U’s Latte graphics processing unit was more than capable when compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360 but is still “leagues away from the graphics hardware in the PS4 or Xbox One.”
While some people might be turned off by the weaker power of the Wii U, looking at some of its recent titles like Tropical Freeze and Super Mario 3D World, it’s hard to imagine that a higher polygon count would have made either game any better. Nintendo has made its mark on the video game industry through fun, imaginative titles that challenge gamers to play in new ways, not by being the most powerful console on the market.
And in a time when conversation surrounding many PS4 and Xbox One titles inevitably devolves into an arguments over pixel count and frame rate, it might not necessarily be a bad thing the Wii U isn’t pushing graphical boundaries. At least, then Nintendo can focus on what it does best — making incredibly fun games that still look great in their own right.