Before we get started, let’s get one thing out of the way. The rumored Wii U shortages leading up to the console’s launch seem quite real. While some lucky souls were able to walk into a Wal-Mart or Target this morning and pick up the hardware without waiting in line (as shared on Operation Sports’ forums), those situations weren’t the norm, and they aren’t likely to be replicated for months to come.

I visited the local Toys R Us where employees told me that they did have units for those that didn’t pre-order, but they were gone within moments of the doors opening. The GameStop where I had my reserve had one additional unit, but the wait list is currently 65 individuals deep. If you don’t have your Wii U hardware already (or at least a guaranteed pre-order somewhere), your quest to attain the console is going to be a long and difficult one.

I opted for the 32 GB Deluxe set, and I don’t know why anyone would choose the stripped down version. My console is currently updating with the enormous patch that will enable online features and the ability to download the important Wii transfer software. I have not yet purchased an external hard drive, so I’m going to be cruising on the onboard storage for a bit.

Setup was simple. I didn’t use the included wired sensor bar, opting for the battery-powered wireless one that I’ve had for years. Through the initialization process, you have the chance to configure your television settings. I need to play around with mine, because I have a non-traditional setup. My receiver doesn’t handle HDMI, which means that if I want surround sound coming from my Wii U, I need to run through a switch that will split out the audio via digital optical output. The switch is currently handling my DVR, PS3 and Xbox 360 also. This means that I have three devices in play, with the following intracices:

  • My HDMI switch handles inputs.
  • My receiver handles volume.
  • My TV has its own power button, of course.
  • My DVR is responsible for channel selection.

The Wii U’s remote feature isn’t even configured to allow you to add a receiver for volume control. It’s as if Nintendo did not assume that anyone would want to actually listen to surround sound audio output. For reference, most televisions will not pass through anything more than stereo from an HDMI input source. With more functionality, the GamePad could be a fantastic universal remote. Right now, it doesn’t even allow you to take advantage of the Wii U’s full potential. It’ll be interesting to see if this changes once TVii becomes available next month.

OK. 60 minutes later, the day one update is complete and I’ve created my Nintendo Network ID (PaladinXII, just like it is on every other service). You can create a new Mii for that, using a picture taken from the GamePad’s camera as reference. I chose not to spend too much time, as I wanted to move the data over from my Wii.

That process is cumbersome. You’ll need to go follow these steps:

  • Go into the Wii menu of your Wii U
  • Download the transfer channel from the eShop
  • Format the SD card you want to use using the channel
  • Download the transfer channel from the eShop on your Wii
  • Insert the SD card
  • Use the transfer channel to move your data to the SD card
  • Put the SD card back in your Wii U
  • Finalize the transfer

The whole process is accompanied by a cute Pikmin sequence, and once it’s done, your Wii is wiped clean of all its data. Again, once you perform the transfer, all your data is removed from your Wii. Just be sure you want to move it over before doing so. Once your content is on your Wii U, you’ll notice that the Wii menu is a perfect replica of Nintendo’s legacy hardware. This includes the standard definition resolutions, unfortunately.

The entire setup process is lengthy, but otherwise pretty painless. I’m currently sitting at my desk with the Wii GamePad on the cradle charging. Music is being played on the new eShop, with some of the instruments coming through my surround sound system and others through the speaker on the GamePad.

The GamePad screen is really lovely, as long as you don’t expect it to live up to Apple’s Retina Display. It’s easy to browse through the shop and the menu on the screen using either finger or stylus. Speaking of the shop, it appears that Ubisoft’s desire to have their titles available digitally at launch has been fulfilled. ZombiU, Assassin’s Creed III, ESPN Sports Connection and Your Shape Fitness Evolved are all here. Activision seems to be missing right now, but hopefully that will change. There are also a number of digital-only offerings like Mighty Switch Force and Trine 2.

I’m going to get some games in and keep trying Miiverse to see if Nintendo manages to get it up and running today. More updates soon. Let us know if you have any questions.