Your carefully-stored Nintendo Wii U might be dead

Reports suggest that a bug could leave Wii U console irrevocably bricked if they’re left unused for too long.

Wii U

Even Nintendo would concede that the Wii U wasn’t the best-selling of its consoles, but the handheld-hybrid still sold over 13 million units over its short lifetime. And if you, like so many other Wii U owners, carefully packed away the system and put it on the shelf when the Nintendo Switch came out in 2017, there’s bad news: the Wii U reportedly has the potential to fail if left unused for too long.

As shared on Twitter by the eagle-eyed Ryan T. Brown, Exputer has pulled together a series of forum threads on NeoGAF and Reddit, which all appear to add weight to the theory that Wii U console can become corrupted over time – even if the systems are unmodified and in otherwise working order when they’re put into storage.

According to those reports, the problem originates from the console’s NAND Flash Memory, which holds such essentials as save data, downloaded channels, and the Wii U’s main menu. If left unused for extended periods of time, the NAND memory can become corrupted, resulting in system errors and, more fundamentally, a console rendered essentially unusable. Worse, the Wii U’s age means Nintendo will no longer repair your broken system, and a factory reset won’t fix the situation, either.

mario kart

Mario Kart 8. Credit: Nintendo

Exactly why these errors arise isn’t currently clear; for now, the only obvious solution appears to be to turn on your console from time to time and hope that it keeps working (you could also back up your NAND memory, though this isn’t something within everyone’s scope).

Just to be on the safe side, this writer dragged his Wii U off the shelf, fired it up, and was relieved to see that it still powers up just fine – at least for now. Time will tell whether more detail emerges around this strange bug: how commonplace it is, and whether Nintendo has any useful advice on what can be done about it.

March is already a fateful month for the Wii U’s generation of hardware. On 27 March, the Nintendo eShops for the Wii U and 3DS are to close down for good.

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