Wii U Wii Mode Audio-Video Mishaps

It’s a good thing the big April Wuu update isn’t out yet, giving me a chance to complain about stuff while it’s valid.  Let’s briefly revisit some of Wuu’s non-features, or why I didn’t fall for that “trap”: never performed that permanent “system transfer” of my Wii data as soon as I got my Wuu. As with any dangerous entertainment content migration of this sort, I had to find out: does Wuu’s “Wii Mode” retain all the features the Wii did?


Many users found out the hard way – it doesn’t (at this time?). Number 1, I’ve been unable to make the Wii Mode reproduce surround sound from Wii titles. And Number 2, Wuu’s upscaler is yucky. Visit Nintendo’s tech support forums and you’ll find plenty of rage about it. You’d expect that Wuu’s method of backwards compatibility was a near-perfect recreation of the old box, much like Wii’s handling of GameCube titles, but it’s a worse way to play older favorites; not “the same”, and not “better”. The Wuu is technically backwards compatible, but I wish it was more than compatible and backwards. Upscaling Wii Games

  • 720/1080 Wii output looks awful, at least on my TV. It feels more pixelated than it should be. Instead of applying some common filter to stretch the image in a smoother way, pixels seem individually enlarged and gloriously square-ish.
  • The upscaled frame is smaller than it should be. Overscan wasn’t properly accounted for, and I see black margins all around the image which also moves any in-game GUI objects away from the screen’s edges and encroaches the normally “playable” viewable area.
  • 480p over HDMI looks good on my TV, becuz my set was released before all that 12,000Hz Web-3D PriceHike(TM) bullshit; it has a proper scaler for smooth & sexy stretching. Other TVs – too bad. Color and sharpness are noticeably improved versus 480p over Component Video, and there’s no overscan/margin issues. It’s classic old-resolution video, as clean as can be – but it currently takes forever to jump in/out of the Wuu setup menu to turn 480p on/off, so unless you’re on a Wii backlog binge, it’s probably best to avoid this approach and go last-last-gen with the Classic Wii for instant waggle.
  • I have a handful of Wii titles that were strictly 480i (Trauma Center, Kororinpa, Tenchu 4, MadWorld, etc.), but I have no intention of playing them again, so I didn’t try any 480i stuff; just noting. Don’t want to void my Wuu warranty by breaking it.

No Wii Surround Sound – what the hell?

  • The only surround audio I’ve gotten so far are from Wuu content (Wuu Menu, specific Wuu games), when the Wuu is hooked directly to an A/V receiver only via HDMI connection, and the Wuu Menu audio options are set to “surround”.
  • I’ve read that Wuu surround audio is only generated as an uncompressed multi-channel bitstream that’s carried by the HDMI cable and is understood by a suitably modern receiver – which explains why I didn’t hear shit behind me when my Wuu was connected to my TV’s HDMI input, then outputted from my TV to my old receiver via optical Toslink cable. The optical connection is apparently outdated and not enough – you only get to hear the 3 front channels and nothing more (which means sounds do “go missing” if they’re supposed to originate from your surround channels). I ended up buying a new (fatty) receiver and completely rewired my home theater setup.
  • So if 5-channel audio content wasn’t specifically made for Wuu, you get no surround – especially that Wii Mode. Specifically, no Dolby Pro Logic II support: not for Zelda waggle, not for RE4 GameCube poooort, not for 3rd Party experiments – nothing. Does not exist.
  • I checked using the existing HDMI connection across multiple Wii titles with obvious DPLII surround effects. Wuu set to “Surround” has no Wii in surround; Wuu in “Stereo” has no Wii in surround and doesn’t even try to output conventional DPLII over stereo. Lastly, Wii Mode’s internal settings have no “Surround” option. WHY?
  • I even checked using my Wii Component Cables – Wuu’s “Surround” option is shaded out and disabled! wtf. Despite using the Wuu “Stereo” option over the analog component/stereo cables, hoping that DPLII-encoded information would pass thru – again – no surround.
  • The current tech ensures there’ll be no enjoying those classic standard-def Wii titles – plus selected N64 VC titles – in luscious casual surround. Is this the price we pay for graduating to WiiHD?

I’ve tried to take advantage of any surround sound in games since enjoying that cutting edge Ocarina of Time on N64 during high school; access to such a feature makes a lasting impact on a growing casual gamer. It’s a selling point I keep an eye out for: I still believe that “360-degrees” of audio has traditionally done a better job of tricking you into believing you’re part of a game’s atmosphere than moving pictures trapped on a surface, a medium never satisfied by some hopeless pursuit of diminishing graphical returns. A surround sound system is a different and significant investment, not simply in cash value, but also in personalizing your entertainment space to make it feel right. When it’s complete, scary things and magickal things gather to party around your ears before you realize your upgraded potato throne will serve you well for several good years (maybe multiple console generations) to come.

Transitioning from apartment life to house life and still catching up on various chores/hobbies, I’ve yet to play thru some of my “final” DPLII titles like The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower. Frankly, there’s no hurry for next-gen or botched BC or other socially networked always-online disasters; my casual games are best served on two GameCubes with duct tape.


8 thoughts on “Wii U Wii Mode Audio-Video Mishaps

  1. “which explains why I didn’t hear shit behind me when my Wuu was connected to my TV’s HDMI input, then outputted from my TV to my old receiver via optical Toslink cable.”

    This is standard across every input device. The intention of your display’s optical out is to spit out Dolby Digital from it’s HD over-the-air tuner. It is only allowed to spit out stereo sourced from HDMI, as is common across almost all displays.


      1. By hooking up HDMI to a surround receiver before heading to the display. As Daisy figured out later. 🙂 It works the same way on the 360 and PS3, which we’ve had HDMI on for 6.5 years.


        1. Ah, that makes some sense. You can probably guess that I don’t have a surround sound setup 🙂 (or a HDMI setup either – my Wii is connected via RGB SCART. I do have a component lead but the SCART cable is actually better quality)


  2. I prefer to use the ol’ Gamecube controller with a few of my Wii games, so when I do get a Wii U, I’ll probably just stack ’em on top of each other and keep them both hooked up.

    Still, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a system update that finally just merges the two damn consoles, just like how you can access DSi and DS games straight from the 3DS menu, though I can imagine that something like that’s probably not at the top of their priority list right now.


  3. Wii U’s upscaler is perfect. That it can’t enable pro logic II in Wii titles is a problem (unless the game has an option in the menu like RE4 does and the Wii U is in stereo mode). But the upscaler is giving you the closest image to the rendering resolution. Pixelated yes but they’re 480p games. Analog cables and TV processing of SDTV applies a “vasoline” layer of fug that some prefer. Even if you used component cables. But such complainers have no taste.


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