Wii U: PAL backwards compatibility doesn’t upscale to HD

Wednesday, 5th December 2012 13:12 GMT By Dave Cook

Wii U backwards compatibility functions have been thoroughly tested by the boffins at Digital Foundry. While the site champions Nintendo’s handling of classic Wii games, it has found that while NTSC titles upscale to HD resolution, PAL games will not. Get their findings below.

As part of a detailed analysis into the matter on Eurogamer, Digital Foundry reports that when playing original Wii games, the Wii U console will revert to Wii mode, complete with classic menus and options.

However, the site explained, “Important AV options are omitted from the Wii menu, with the PAL console unable to upscale to HD resolutions or run in progressive scan over component – an issue that doesn’t seem to impact NTSC hardware.”

The report added, “The results are intriguing. On a PAL unit, where 480p and PAL60 were supported in the original games, Wii U automatically opts for this set-up on HDMI – whether the user wants it or not.

“While we think it’s a logical way to proceed, the fact is that some Wii gamers prefer to utilise 576i. PAL-optimised titles may take a hit to frame-rate, but they make up for it with around 17 per cent more resolution.

“What is clear is that the choices users had on their older hardware have been taken away from them on Wii U when there’s absolutely no reason that the software couldn’t have been designed to keep everyone happy.”

So it seems that PAL games are being locked into a particular resolution, regardless of options available within the original title. The report also discusses the long and drawn out process of transferring data over from your original Wii to Wii U.

“Other back-compat issues surface when dealing with the Virtual Console. For starters, transferring purchases across from the Wii to the Wii U is a bizarrely involved procedure.

“The process involves downloading the transfer tool on both your Wii U and the old Wii. You then have to prepare the SD card (with at least 512MB of space on it) on the Wii U and then insert it into the old console. The transfer tool then copies all of your data (Miis, purchase history, downloads, save games) to the SD card.

“You then have to put it back in the Wii U and copy all of the data back over. Weirdly, you need to have internet access in order to complete the process.

“One of our colleagues was hugely frustrated by always failing at the last stage of this drawn-out operation, with the Wii U itself offering no explanation whatsoever for what the issue may have been, and network issues turned out to be the problem.

“Also a little irritating is that despite shipping a console with 32GB of flash, onboard Wii storage limits are the same palty 512MB we had to put up with on the original hardware.”

Sounds like a nightmare doesn’t it? Have you dabbled in either of these issues? Let us know what you think below.



  1. monkeygourmet

    Old tech
    Gimmicky Pad
    Not multi touch
    Old launch games
    Bad multi platform launch games
    Big online first day patch
    Bricked machines
    No HD upscaling for Wii games
    No Game cube support

    Why is it still so fun to play on?! :D

    #1 2 years ago
  2. zinc

    Because your a brainwashed Miyamoto acolyte, with a fetish for kids games?


    #2 2 years ago
  3. scott_wright

    hmmm thats a bit crap really isnt it?

    I Thought we was getting away from all this PAL and NTSC stuff but nope still alive and well.

    I mean its things like this that keep the import scene alive and well.

    I thought the whole idea of the Wii U was to get back on the good side of so called Core gamers.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. OlderGamer

    So my (NA) system does upscale Wii games? Whats rez do they run in? My wife and I were playing NSMBWii a few days ago(we vow to finish the old one, w/o our kids help, before we spend on a newer one). And we noticed it the game looked very nice. But in just eye balling it, we couldn’t tell what it was running at.

    Our TV INFO button claimed 1080p. But it didn’t look 1080p. It also didn’t 480i/480p either. I guess so long as it is playing good and looking good it really doesn’t matter. But I styill wonder what res it is, and more so I still don’t understand why PAL systems can’t/don’t upscale? Is there a laymens terms someone could toss at me? And more importantly for our EU friends, can it be patched at a later date?

    #4 2 years ago
  5. freedoms_stain

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but a decent display can scale the image to stretch over the entire panel anyway – which is all inbuilt “up-scaling” does anyway, no?

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Dave Cook

    @5 at the TV end yeah. But the point is that the Wii U will upscale itself with NTSC games, but not with PAL titles.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. DrDamn

    That source article is incredibly confusingly written. For a start the quote you’ve picked out Dave is separated off in the article, but has actually been rewritten in the main text – as they’ve not actually tested it with a game.

    Upscaling is rarely that good with games and their hard pixel edges. It’s not the same as up-rezzing, which would be very nice. So the machine itself not upscaling is not a huge issue. The proper PAL resolutions not being available is a bit annoying, but massive.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. DrDamn

    Not sure they actually found that though. The core point was that PAL resolutions were not available as options. The other point was that it was only via component cables that there were other NTSC/PAL differences. HDMI was fine.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. stx

    Hugely misleading head-line. The EU Wii U does upscale Wii titles to HD.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Dave Cook

    @9 Why is it misleading? Saying it’s misleading suggests I’ve intentionally said something untrue, which I haven’t.

    Where’s your source on your claim? I’m only reporting what Digital Foundry has said. So if you want to accuse someone of being misleading, accuse them.


    #10 2 years ago
  11. polygem

    i played some of my wii pal games on the wiiu recently…looked crisp and clean, no complaints from me. i´d just prefer not to have too boot into a wii mode though. would love to see some games being playable on the touchpad only…that´s a missed opportunity imho.

    @2: no it´s fun to play…it just is. you should try it yourself. marketing washed your brain and made you believe playing mario is more childish than playing uncharted…truth is: it´s not.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. _LarZen_

    So let me get this right, it dont upscale to HD if you use component but it will if you use HDMI?

    #12 2 years ago
  13. DrDamn

    This main quote – the one only present in the original article as a quote from the article but not very actually in the article …

    “Important AV options are omitted from the Wii menu, with the PAL console unable to upscale to HD resolutions or run in progressive scan over component – an issue that doesn’t seem to impact NTSC hardware.”

    Isn’t very clear. Does it mean PAL consoles are :-

    a) Unable to upscale to HD resolutions
    b) Unable to run in progressive scan over component


    a) Unable to upscale to HD resolutions over component
    b) Unable to run in progressive scan over component

    #13 2 years ago
  14. killersense

    didn’t you at one point before the wii u launch say that it will be the hottest item in town during the holidays and people will struggle to find it in stores ? if yes do you still think so lol?

    #14 2 years ago
  15. polygem

    WiiU haters………..i feel sorry for you.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. DrDamn

    Also from the EG article …

    “As expected, there’s no magical native HD resolution rendering in HDMI mode, but the upscaling from 480p and conversion of 576i games is handled fairly well.”

    What upscaling is he talking about? If there is none on PAL and they have no NTSC games to test?

    Not blaming you Dave, but the source material. When I read it before the article here I thought it would be best for vg247 to just put “EG Digital Foundry analyses Wii-U B/C” and link it :D. Fair play for trying to pull out the important points, but it contradicts and confuses itself.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Dave Cook

    @16 I think part of the problem is that they have written the piece with a view to sounding intellectual. it doesn’t help anyone when it’s written that way ;)

    #17 2 years ago
  18. zinc

    @Polygem, Now I know, you know I’m joking…

    But Uncharted is obviously more adult! Drake has manly stubble, not a cartoon mustache!

    The platforming is set in adult locations, not fairytale lands.

    And Drake uses guns, not fire flowers!

    These 3 points easily separate the 2!

    #18 2 years ago
  19. DrDamn

    Yeah I’m not a huge fan of Leadbetter.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. polygem

    you just pointed out very well that there isn´t a big difference….and moustaches have always been MANLY, as well as fire flowers. fairytales they both are, every game is.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. bitsnark


    I like his work, but really, he could be a helluva lot less verbose.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Dragon246

    Its an art to write something in a way that no one understands.
    Appreciate the art folks.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. bitsnark


    Haha! :)

    #23 2 years ago
  24. ManuOtaku

    I did stop reading at “there is not magical native HD”, nintendo is magical for christ sake, in everything ;)

    #24 2 years ago
  25. polygem


    #25 2 years ago
  26. Cobra951


    Absolutely right. The perfect HDTV will scale whatever is fed into it to the panel’s native res using the best algorithms available at a blazingly fast speed to make lag negligible. How close your HDTV comes to this perfection is a very important question for a gamer.

    A good HDTV can make lower-res content look crisp. Ideally, it’s best to let competent sets do all of the scaling required, since otherwise the input source (e.g., your Nintendo console) will be scaling once, then the TV will be scaling a second time, adding to overall distortion, and possibly adding to overall lag. Even when your source outputs 1080p resolution to a set labeled “1080p”, chances are the TV hardware is doing some scaling, because of overscan or the actual hardware resolution of the panel, or both.

    Which looks best in practice, however, will vary with the combination of components and even personal taste. I would first have the WiiU output a progressive-scan signal at the game’s native res (if possible), and let the TV do the scaling. Play with that for a bit. Then I would allow the console to scale up the output to match the TV’s actual res as best as possible, and compare results.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. zinc

    @poly, I know theirs not much difference, I’m joking… Again ;-)

    #27 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.