Wii U System & Services Summary

Although I don’t have any personal access to a Wii U unit, I found that information about the systems and services included with the Wii U is somewhat all over the place, so I decided to summarize them in an article here. Concrete information will be displayed in the typical black, while I’ll put speculative or unconfirmed information in green. If there are any errors or missing info, feel free to give feedback either in the comments or in the forums. I’ll do my best to keep this up-to-date.

Click here to get rid of the green and get a just the facts version.

WaraWara Plaza

The WaraWara Plaza is apparently the first thing one will see when one turns on the system. As one can see, it shows a group of Miis crowding around various game and app icons(these icons appear to be the same as those ones that can be seen on the game case spines similar to 3DS games). Before that happens though, one can see a smaller selection of Miis drop in the middle. Although not confirmed, it seems these are the Miis of other Users on the same console. Although it appears to be mostly visual, each of the ten game/app icons have what seems to be a glass border with their reflectiveness. There are also icons hovering above the plaza and even clouds moving by, which cast their shadow upon the ground.

The lower-left corner of the screen shows two bubbles representing zoom levels as well as a encircled “-” and “+” symbols. These symbols likely indicate buttons that can be pressed to change the zoom level: – button for zooming out and + button for zooming in. It also appears that one can move around the view using the analogue sticks, although it’s possible that the movement is automatic or uses other controls. There is also a button on the lower-right to switch screens between the TV and GamePad, likely can be pressed using the Wii Remote pointer. A similar button exists on the GamePad on the upper-right which appears to be press-able using the touch screen, or usable by pressing the X button on the GamePad.

The other Miis will be taken from the Miiverse, as well as having speech bubbles pop up from it as well. Once the WaraWara Plaza has been switched to the GamePad, one can touch the games or Miis to get a further menu involving that game or Mii. Touching the game will give one a menu which gives the option to go to the game’s eShop or Miiverse page. Touching the Mii or its speech bubble will give one access to the game’s eShop page again, but also lets one go to the specific post in Miiverse or to the person’s profile page and there’s an option to send the Mii into the Mii Maker as well. Instead of touching, one can use the Wii Remote to select them while they’re still on the TV screen.

Wii U Menu

High above the WaraWara Plaza is the Wii U Menu. The Wii U Menu shows the current User’s Mii on the top-left, a button to change between the TV and GamePad on the top-right(Probably usable using the X button due to the button symbol), a 3×5 grid of icons in the middle with six dots on the top(one highlighted) and a big arrow to the right, as well as a row of five icons at the bottom. As the WaraWara Plaza, one can likely use the Wii Remote pointer for the Wii U Menu while it’s on the TV screen.

Going left-to-right, top-to-bottom, first icon has a picture of a disc and an inverted eject symbol, likely when there is no disc inside the Wii U. This icon will likely be replaced by the game’s symbol when a disc is inserted and is the disc game application. The next symbol with six Miis is the Mii Maker. Next is System Settings with a simple stylized wrench, similar to the one for the 3DS equivalent. Next symbol with two smiling figures inside a border and a phone headset on the outside is the Wii U Chat. After that is the Wii Menu, shown with a simplified version of the Wii Menu. First on the second row is the Activity Log, with a bar graph showing four 3D bars. Next to that has a large figure beside a smaller figure, being Parental Controls. The final caution sign is the Health & Safety Information, similar to the 3DS one. The rest of the icons are currently blank, as of the 2012 November 7th Nintendo Direct.

Along with the fifteen squares to put various games and apps in, there appears to be five more screens worth of squares for a total of 90 squares. A left arrow will likely appear when not on the first page; likewise a right arrow will probably disappear when on the last page. Although 90 squares seems plenty at launch, needs will likely grow and it may get expanded either over time or as the squares fill up. As each square gets highlighted, possibly by touching it or by using an analogue stick or directional pad, they grow a bit bigger, the border turns blue, and the text for “Start” appears under it. Unlike the 3DS, there doesn’t seem to be the space for any additional options other than starting the application. Additionally, unlike the Wii, there doesn’t appear to be a full-screen menu to show off the game. Something like a logo or something may appear on the WaraWara Plaza screen, but it may also not.

There are five buttons along the bottom of the screen. The icons appear to be Miiverse, Nintendo eShop, Internet Browser, Nintendo TVii, and Notifications. Although little information appears to has been given, Notifications will likely work similarly to the 3DS, having SpotPass messages from Nintendo and other developers, as well as possibly having some Miiverse stuff as well.


In order to use the Wii U, one must first create a user account called a “User”. These are meant for individuals using the Wii U. The Wii U supports up to 12 Users. Game settings and save data can be linked to individual Users, although some save data will be cross-user. Internet Browser bookmarks and play records will also be linked to individual Users.It’s possible that the Wii U Menu can also be personalized per-User, but there has been no information on that. These Users can be selected from a User selection menu which appears to be on the top-left corner of the Wii U Menu. It’s unclear if one can access it anywhere else; it doesn’t seem like it appears on system start-up. It is necessary to give a user a Nintendo Network ID and a password to connect it online; this likely gives it an Nintendo Network icon on the top-right corner of the User’s card in the User selection screen.

Nintendo Network ID

For network features such as the Nintendo eShop, Miiverse, and Wii U Chat, a Nintendo Network ID is needed. A Nintendo Network ID requires: A password, date of birth, gender, area of residence(“none” can be chosen), and email address. Name, address, and credit card information is not required, however, an unique ID may be, as indicated on Miiverse page. The Nintendo Network ID can be used like a Friend Code for Wii U Users for connecting with Friends. A Nintendo Network ID has friend information, eShop balance, credit card information, and purchase information in addition to registration information. Nintendo eShop purchases, including AOC(also known as DLC), by one Nintendo Network ID can be played by all Users of that Wii U. It is not clear whether it is possible to use an Nintendo Network ID on another Wii U console and what happens if someone does. It is possible to connect Nintendo Network ID to other network services by third-parties, likely referring to services like Ubisoft’s Uplay or EA‘s Origin. It is not clear if this also allows connection to services such as Facebook or Twitter, for instance.

The Nintendo Network ID is planned for use in future Nintendo hardware. It is also planned to be usable in smart phones and PC sometime in 2013, where services such as Miiverse and Nintendo eShop will be accessible. There is no current information whether the 3DS will support Nintendo Network ID, although Miiverse support is planned.

Nintendo Network IDs for children should use their parent or guardian’s email address. The same email address can be used for multiple Nintendo Network IDs.

Home Button Menu

While in-game, pressing the Home Button will bring up the Home Button Menu. It’s not clear whether one can bring up this menu anywhere else. Although the picture should make it clear, there’s the current User’s Mii in the top-left as well as battery indicators for the GamePad and up to four Wii Remote controllers right beside it. Not really clear where the Pro controllers will go. It might just appear if there’s one connected. Likewise, the Wii Remotes may disappear there if there’s none connected.

In the middle row is access to the Friend List, Miiverse, Nintendo eShop, Internet Browser, Nintendo TVii, and Download Manager. Interestingly, the Nintendo TVii option seems appears in the Japanese Home Button Menu despite it not being confirmed for the region yet Download Manager allows one to see the progress of downloads and also likely has other background downloading features, such as pausing and resuming of downloads or stopping a download altogether. Below that is the Controller Settings, Close Software, and Manual buttons. Close Software likely brings the player back to the Wii U Menu; Manual seems to be the same as the Manual button on the 3DS, showing a digital manual for the software. The button at the bottom closes the Home Button Menu and returns the player to the game. Pressing the Home button appears to perform this action as well, as indicated on the button.


Miiverse can be accessed via the WaraWara Plaza, Wii U Menu, Home Button Menu, Nintendo eShop or directly through some games. The main Miiverse menu has six options on the left side: My Menu, Activity Feed(Pictured), Community, Message, Notifications, and Back(B).

It appears that one arrives at Community when they access Miiverse through the Wii U Menu from a game. The Community screen appears tailored to the game. When in the Community for a game, there is an option to favourite it. One can also find messages posted for the game or write a new message. On the main community page one can see, in addition to the posts themselves, a button to “Yeah” a post, the number of “Yeah”s a post has received, as well as number of replies the post has gotten. When one of one’s own posts is “Yeah”‘d, they get a notification about it. This likely goes to one’s notification list. Touching the Mii icon of the post sends one to their profile page, while touching the screenshot expands it for a better view.

When posting to the Miiverse, one can use a virtual keyboard or simply draw and write using the touch screen. When typing, there’s a 100-character limit. Screenshots can be attached to posts, presumably a direct feed of the current game screen, choosing from TV screen and GamePad screen, as well as one of six expressions for the User’s Mii. It seems that the expression changes what sort of “Yeah”s the post can receive. A neutral post might just be “Yeah”, but a surprised expression might change it to “Yeah!”; a winking one is “Yeah♥”; a sad one is “Yeah…”; and an angry one is “Yeah…!”.

When on a User’s Profile, one can see the User’s Mii name, country, birthday, number of times emphasized, gaming experience level in the top. Below that is their number of posts, Friends, Followers, Followed. The posts is highlighted, showing their posts below that. Presumably, one can see their Friends, Followers, and Followed by touching those buttons. At the top again, there’s two buttons: One is to “Follow this person” and the other is to “Send Friend Request”.

Activity Feed allows on to see the recent activity of one’s Friends and those one follows. With Message, one can send direct messages to their Friends.

Posts in the Miiverse that are marked as spoilers aren’t immediately shown; one must push a button in order to view it. Posts are marked as spoilers if the author marks it themselves, or if enough people flag it as such.

All Wii U games have some Miiverse capability and it is accessible from the Home Button Menu from any Wii U game. Additionally, it’s possible to access Miiverse from non-game software. Some Wii U games, like New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land, can send and receive Miiverse posts without going to the Miiverse screen. New Super Mario Bros. U’s in-game Miiverse appears to be regionalized, while Nintendo Land’s appears to be international. New Super Mario Bros. U may occasionally also ask one to express their feelings as a Senryū or in other unique ways.

The Miiverse uses a browser-based interface. It is possible to go to foreign communities in Miiverse. Communities are likely software-specific, meaning you can go to Miiverse communities of foreign titles. It is not clear if one can make communities that are not software-specific, or if there are any non-software-specific communities at all.


Also available in Miiverse, little information has been released about this feature. Appears to be similar to 3DS version.

Mii Maker

Similar to the Mii Maker on the 3DS. Can create Miis from camera, import Miis from 3DS or Wii, make QR Codes, and has a 3000 Mii limit.

Nintendo eShop

Current information on the Wii U’s eShop is sparse, but there is a bit: As typical, one can buy and download various game software from the eShop. The Nintendo eShop doesn’t use points, but instead local currency. It appears that one can use the same 3DS eShop money cards on the Wii U’s eShop. Nintendo eShop’s interface has four menu buttons on the left: To the Top(which likely scrolls the interface back to the top), Menu (Y), Funds (+), Search (-), and End (X). The top right has a keyword search bar and below that has three buttons: Download Number Entry(likely for download cards), Ranking(probably shows downloads by things like highest rated), and News.

In addition to normal download software, many retail titles will also be available on the eShop. Also, there will be trailers, commercials, and demos as well. The eShop also has Miiverse support. One can likely see comments from other players about the game on its eShop page. There is, however, no gifting option. Buying WiiWare and Wii Virtual Console software cannot be done using the Nintendo eShop; they must be purchased from the Wii Shopping Channel from the Wii Menu.

The Nintendo eShop likely uses a browser-based interface.

Internet Browser

Wii U’s Internet Browser is a Netfront browser based on Webkit, which both Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari browser uses. It scores high on HTML5 tests which can be seen here. Notably, the Wii U supports h.264 for video and Ogg Vorpis and Ogg Opus for audio, which is important since it does not support Flash or other plug-ins. A notable absence is a lack of 3D context for WebGL.

The browser supports bookmarks and up to six tabs. When one watches a video, they can send it to the TV, then continue browsing on the GamePad. The person on the GamePad can also use curtains to hide what they’re browsing on the TV, then open it with fanfare. Generally speaking, the same screen is shown on the GamePad as it is on the TV. With special Javascript, websites can detect some of the GamePad’s functions such as its gyro and buttons, which can then be used for other things.

The +Control Pad toggles the focus(I imagine this means moving between interact-able elements, such as links), the L and R Sticks adjusts zoom, and the A button can be used to confirm. The tool bar can be hidden by pressing down on the L Stick. In gyro scroll mode, it’s possible to scroll through the page vertically by tilting the GamePad.

The browser has seven buttons at the bottom of the screen as well as a UI bar at the top. On the bottom left is the current User’s Mii, which reacts depending on the situation. Activating it brings up the bookmarks, which is User-specific. The other buttons at the bottom appear to be, from left to right: Back, Forward, Zoom Out (-), Zoom In (+), Tabs, Search.

It appears that when playing videos using the Internet Browser, it may automatically switch to a full-screen view. Tapping on the screen at this point will bring up a video control menu, with what appears to be close button on the left, time elapsed after that, then a seek bar followed by time remaining. At the end appears to be a sort of a minimize button which keeps the video playing on the TV while allowing one to navigate the page on the bottom. This menu goes to the top when the video is minimized. One can still navigate on the GamePad while the video is playing on the TV screen.

Nintendo TVii

Nintendo TVii info can be viewed here. It appears to be accessible from the Home Button Menu, and thus may possibly be used without exiting out of a game.

System Settings

Little information has been released about this at this time. Parental Controls is no longer a part of System Settings and is now its own icon on the Wii U Menu.

Data Management is here. There is a lack of copy functions between the internal memory and USB storage, but an option to move files exists. Wii U download software can only be stored to the internal memory or USB storage; SD cards are not supported. It is unclear at the moment if save file management of other User’s save files are possible. What, if any, SD card management functions exists is also unclear.

It appears there is an auto-shut off feature that turns off the Wii U after an hour(by default) of no controller activity. This can be adjusted or turned off in the System Settings.

Wii U Chat

Wii U Chat allows for video chat with Users one has Friended. It also allows for making doodles on the screen while chatting, colours can be changed between four different ones using the R Stick. The indicator light will blink when being a called, and using the Home button, one can exit out of the game to receive it. It currently only supports chat from a single Wii U to a single other Wii U.

Wii Menu

Wii Menu launches the Wii U into a Wii Mode, where Wii U-specific functionality is turned off including the Wii U’s controllers, such as the GamePad and the Pro Controller. This essentially turns the Wii U into a Wii, including its Shopping Channel as opposed to the Wii U’s eShop, however, there is no support for Gamecube software. Additionally, WiiConnect24 is disabled, although other Internet functions, such as online play, seem to still be available. It does now include a Wii U app to go back to the Wii U Menu as well as a Wii System Transfer app, to transfer data from a Wii to the Wii U.

The system transfer requires an SD card of at least 512 MB and transfers the following:

  • Wii retail software save data.
  • WiiWare and Wii Virtual Console save data.
  • Downloadable Content
  • Wii Points(Not supported on Nintendo eShop, won’t transfer if total on Wii U ends up more than 10 000)
  • Wii Shopping Channel records
  • Miis

It doesn’t seem to actually transfer over any software. They likely need to be redownloaded via the Wii Shopping Channel. System settings may also need to be reset. Additionally, some channels appear missing from the default Wii Menu, such as the Photo Channel, Mii Channel, and the News and Whether Channels. The Mii Channel still exists, so this may be just an error of early screenshots.

Activity Log

Similar to the system on the 3DS, the Activity Log keeps track of playing times and games, as well as how often each game has been played. Each record is personal to the User, although one can see the records of other users on the Wii U. Wii software is not tracked.

Parental Controls

Parental Controls works similarly on the Wii U as it does on other Nintendo systems, but is on the Wii U Menu as opposed to System Settings. Additionally, Parental Controls for the Wii U and Wii is set separately. Parental Controls can be done on a per-User basis.

Parental Controls can do the following:

  • Restrict play by rating.
  • Restrict in-game communication.
  • Restrict Internet Browser.
  • Limit credit card usage or Nintendo eShop purchases.
  • Restrict viewing of and posting on Miiverse.
  • Restrict Friend registration.
  • Restrict Video streaming services.
  • Restrict deletion and movement of save data.
  • Restrict Internet functionality.

Health & Safety Information

There’s little information about this, but it’s likely similar to the 3DS version in giving one basic Health & Safety Information for video game play.

Some features will require an update before it can be used. This update is to become available upon the Wii U’s release date. These features include the Internet Browser, Miiverse, and Nintendo eShop. Supposively, Wii Mode is also affected.

Note: tnud has inserted translations into some of the screen pictures to help with readability.

Fix/missing info credits: ddddd from GoNintendo.

Update(2012 November 10th, 17:37 EST): Expanded on the Internet Browser, added a few other details(System Settings, Wii Menu) elsewhere.

Update(2012 November 12th, 08:55 EST): Pretty much a bit nearly everywhere.

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9 Comments to Wii U System & Services Summary
    • Cris
    • can U use the Wii U if the gamepad is turned off?, I wanna know if U can navigate on the home menu using a Wiimote or a controller pro.

      • Meophist
      • I don’t know how much you can use the Wii U without the GamePad, but the Wii U Menu does appear to be usable using the Wii Remote controller.

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