Published on May 13th, 2013 20:38
There are three things we really like about the Wii U hardware here at Digital Foundry - its diminutive dimensions, the GamePad controller and its extremely low power draw. Nintendo's new console is the paragon of efficiency, producing current-gen visuals using less than half the power of the Xbox 360 or PS3 running the same games. It's small enough to pack into a travel bag, and its battery-powered controller means you can game on the move without requiring a bespoke display. All of which leads us to wonder - could Wii U actually be viable as a mobile games system?Of course, there are far more user-friendly, mobile-specific solutions out there - Nintendo's own 3DS, the PlayStation Vita or iOS/Android tablets for example. But the fact is that even the most forward-looking mobile graphics tech is a good year away from matching Xbox 360/PS3/Wii U quality and even then, it'll still take a while for game-makers to utilise that technology. And by that point, you still won't be playing Nintendo console games on them, nor will there be a surfeit of titles as ambitious as, say, Assassin's Creed 3 or Need for Speed: Most Wanted - just a couple of the games that work very well indeed on Nintendo's new console. There's a value angle to this too in that you're using the exact same console hardware you have at home - so there's no need to buy a new device. To match or exceed Wii U game quality, you'd need to buy a gaming laptop, which isn't that much more portable, and costs anything from £500 upwards.
Off-TV Play - the key to Wii U's portability
Running Wii U as a mobile games machine relies upon releases supporting Off-TV Play - the ability to run games independently of the main display. Not every title supports this - ZombiU and NintendoLand just wouldn't work without their unique second-screen set-ups - but there's still a range of high-profile titles to enjoy and many more on the way including Pikmin 3 and the director's cut of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Wii U eShop Virtual Console games like Super Mario World also support Off-TV Play.
- Assassin's Creed 3
- Batman: Arkham City
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
- Darksiders 2
- FIFA 13
- Injustice: Gods Among Us
- Mass Effect 3
- Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
- Mutant Mudds Deluxe
- Need for Speed Most Wanted U
- New Super Mario Bros U
- Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed
- Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U Edition
- Trine 2
The notion of playing Wii U outside of the home is nothing new of course. Right from the launch of the console, gamers realised that the machine had plenty of mobile potential - as long as you were within reach of a power point. Wii U gameplay on the train, or in a business class seat on a flight? No problem. Well now we can add the car to the list of venues with the release of the new MaxPlay adaptor - a replacement Wii U power supply that plugs directly into the cigarette lighter power-point on any car.The device itself is nothing spectacular in terms of design and there's a bit of a "low rent" feel to it, particularly in terms of the branding, but there's clearly been a bit of thought put into the functionality of the device. The 12v output of the car battery is transformed into the 15v, 5A power input the Wii U requires, and there's also an additional USB 5v charging slot built into the design so you can recharge the GamePad while on the move too, completely removing the need to pack a second power supply into your travel bag. From there on out, MaxPlay works exactly as you would hope it to, providing all the power required for the Wii U to work flawlessly while on those long car journeys.PreviousNextView all
1/3 Not a trick, not an illusion. The MaxPlay adaptor works fine in powering Wii U on the road, running from the cigarette lighter power socket. Superb for keeping the kids occupied in long trips and keenly priced at £19.
Now, the chances are you have questions and suspicions about the viability of this device. We did too. First of all, there's no real guarantee on the level of power you're going to get from any car battery, because voltages vary significantly - far more than they would from a mains power point. Well, you can rest easy here. MaxPlay has a voltage regulator that ensures you're getting a clean 15v output regardless of the variation in the input. We compared output from the device to the standard Wii U PSU and got the same, locked 15 volts.You might also have issues about putting a 33W load onto the car battery using an interface most often used for low-power phone chargers and sat navs. This shouldn't be a problem really - assuming you're actually in motion, the car engine will be constantly topping up the battery to an extent that easily accommodates the power draw taken up by the console. It's not a particularly good idea to game for prolonged sessions with the engine off, but even if you did, you'd still need to play for several hours to put any kind of dent into the capacity of a standard car battery.Next up, there's the fact that the