Wii U GamePad Functionality Depends On Your House, Says Nintendo

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Nintendo’s upcoming Wii U console uses a new controller with a built-in screen that will allow you to play games away from the TV. Well, theoretically.


Should developers include the feature in their game, you’ll be able to switch seamlessly between playing the game on your TV screen or on the Wii U GamePad screen itself, making the device something of a console-portable hybrid. The catch is that, while the GamePad screen works lag-free when it’s in the same room as the Wii U, whether or not it will do the same when you take it into a different room depends on various factors.


In an “Iwata Asks” interview, Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, discusses the Wii U GamePad’s range with the developers of the hardware. Will the GamePad still work the way it’s supposed to, even if there’s a wall between it and the Wii U?


“Differences will arise depending on whether you live in a house made of wood or an apartment of reinforced concrete, and what materials the walls are made out of,” Iwata says with regard to this subject.


Toru Yamashita, who worked on the Wii U’s firmware, elaborates a little further.


“If you place the Wii U console in something like a metal TV stand it may deflect the radio waves thus reducing its usable range,” Yamashita shares. “Radio waves weaken by the square of the distance, so even within the same space, too much distance could make them weaker, and having obstacles in between would be a disadvantage.”


Later in the interview, he adds: “By the way, my living room and bathroom are separated by a single wall and I was able to use it.”


So, whether or not the Wii U GamePad will work just as well between rooms in your home will depend on the thickness of your walls and the objects placed in between the Wii U console and the Wii U GamePad.

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Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.