Written by John Rios
Nintendo stepped out at E3 2011 and revealed their “next-gen” console, which is really a controller-centric device called the Wii U. From its early looks, the Wii U puts the focus on an oversized tablet controller, which features a massive 6.2-inch touchscreen. The overall bulk of the controller means that it’s going to be a bit of an unwieldy device, with a bit of a 'learning curve' for your hands. The controller incorporates many elements of a Wiimote, such as motion control. The Wii U tablet can be used together with Wiimotes and other accessories like the Wii Balance Board, to create some interesting combinations for gameplay. The controller is backwards compatible with all Wii games, however Wii U is no longer compatible with the Gamecube games.
The actual console looks like a beefed up lovechild of the Wii and Xbox 360, without the Gamecube controller ports. Nintendo did tout a lot of third party support with a compelling sizzle reel of upcoming games. What Reggie failed to mention - until after Nintendo’s press conference - was the fact that the reel was culled from Xbox 360 and PS3 games in development. Reggie did state that Wii U’s graphical performance will be on par with the other current-gen consoles.
The most intriguing element of the Wii U is that it takes the touchscreen tablet angle to its logical extreme: the device is a wireless window into the game console such that if the TV is otherwise occupied, the game can be played in full on the Wii U controller instead. This means that if someone else wants to use the main screen, you can keep playing your game on the console and access it via your touchscreen tablet. This takes a lot of the onus off being tied to the television set in the middle of the living room, and could open up a lot of different opportunities for social gaming in the same room, or around the house. This will depend heavily on the strength of wireless range that the Wii U is capable of maintaining.
Nintendo has sold over 86 million Wii units across the world, so they’re confident that they have a giant consumer base to work from. The primary concern that hung over the Wii, and what kept several developers flagship titles from gracing Nintendo’s now last-gen console, has been the platform’s overall horsepower. That problem is being resolved with the Wii U, which has the processing power to produce 1080p HD video content, something that anyone more than a social gamer must be thrilled with.
As an avid Nintendo fanboy, I always look forward to what the Big N brings to shows such as E3. The Wii U is no exception. I’m cautiously looking forward to the new console, and would love to see actual games harnessing the Wii U’s full power. Tech demos and footage from other systems can only go so far. A day after the announcement of Wii U, Nintendo’s stock saw a 5% drop to the lowest level it’s been in recent memory. It seems as if both investors and consumers alike may be skeptical of Nintendo’s direction. Currently, Nintendo is keeping tight-lipped with information such as launch date and price point for the Wii U, so there is still have a lot of details to look forward to.
But I want to know what you all think. Will you Wii U?