Nintendo boosts Wii U performance with upgrade

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Nintendo announced Friday that the first major firmware update for its latest game console, the Wii U, is available for download.

The upgrade includes a number of changes designed to improve system performance and pave the way for playing Virtual Console games on the device. It offers speedier start times for the console and its built-in applications, as well as quicker exits from software and returning to the main menu. Jumping between applications and between software and Miiverse should also be faster, the company said.

It has been reported that load times are 31 percent faster. Fifteen seconds are reportedly shaved off boot-up times and five seconds off the time it takes to access the system menu.

While the Wii U logo is being displayed during the system startup, users can directly transition to the Wii Menu by holding down the B  button on the Wii U GamePad.

With the upgrade, gamers no longer will have to twiddle their thumbs while downloading games from Nintendo's online store. That's because they can install games and applications in the background while other software is being used.

Neither must they wait for a download to finish before powering down their consoles. The upgrade allows the Wii U to enter a standby mode, then power off automatically when all downloads and installations are complete.

In addition, the priority of downloads can be controlled when  downloading multiple items at once.

New functions

The upgrade also adds the ability to transfer and copy between two USB storage devices—useful when upgrading or replacing a storage device connected to the Wii U—and improves account selection when powering on the system so Nintendo Network IDs are displayed to clearly distinguish accounts.

Other upgrade changes include the power to adjust the TV screen size from the settings menu and addition of an undo/redo button to the Miiverse drawing input screen.

Virtual Console support will be an important addition to the Wii U. According to Nintendo, its planning a library of classic games for the device's soon-to-be-released VC, including Balloon Fight, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Excitebike, F-Zero, Ice Climber, Kirby's Adventure, Kirby Super Star, Mario Bros., Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream, Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, and Yoshi.

Game Boy Advance and Nintendo 64 games are scheduled to be added in the future, the company noted.

A lack of quality content for the Wii U has been hurting sales of the device, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said earlier this week.

According to Nintendo, it had sold 3.5 million Wii U's by the end of March, only about 60 percent of the sales projections upon the launch of the gaming platform last year.

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