Wii U firmware update: Workaround may ease users' download frustration

By most accounts, Nintendo's launch of its Wii U gaming console has been a success for the company but a headache for fans.

Less than a day after reaching U.S. retailers on Sunday, the units were sold out, and those who managed to get their hands on the device face long delays because they have to install a firmware update for the console.

Gamers are complaining that it's taking as long as one to four hours to get that update downloaded and installed on their consoles.

Nintendo, besieged with questions about the download debacle, issued the following statement:

“It may take an hour or more to perform the system update -- the time required depends on the speed of your Internet connection. Powering off the console during the update may damage your system. The update enables numerous features including Miiverse, Wii U Chat and the eShop, which provides the ability to download video-on-demand applications."

What Nintendo neglects to reveal and what a number of gamers have discovered is that the critical update can be downloaded in the background so players don't have to twiddle their thumbs while waiting for the update to finish downloading.

When gamers set up their Wii U for the first time and are asked to download the update, they should click cancel, advises the website for Nintendo Gamer magazine. "Then you can do something else, be it play Nintendo Land or New Super Mario Bros. U or what have you, and the Wii U will download the update in the background," the magazine said.

After the 1GB update is downloaded, it will take 10 to 15 minutes to install, the magazine added.

While downloading the update can remove some tedium from the process, it's still important to not forget that the background download is in progress. If a user turns off the console while it's happening, that person could end up "bricking" the device.

Some key software items aren't included in the update. For example, Nintendo's television service, TVii, won't be ready until next month. TVii allows gamers to access a TV Guide from the Wii U GamePad controller and to change channels on a set-top box.

In addition, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus aren't ready for the Wii U yet. Netflix was available on the console at launch.

The 8GB Wii U sells for $300 and includes the console, a sensor bar, cables and the GamePad, which is a wireless controller with 6.2-inch touchscreen, dual analog control sticks and gaming buttons. The 32GB "deluxe" version of the console sells for $350 and includes a console and controller stand, and a charging cradle.

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