Tuesday June 7, 7:51 PM
The successor to Nintendo Wii combines high-definition graphics with an innovative controller that has a built-in touch screen, and is promised to arrive next year.
Nintendo thinks it has found the solution to giving everyone exactly what they want, while also something new. Something that is comfortable but also a surprise. Something we’ve always had but at the same time something new. They’re calling it ‘Wii U’.
What’s in the name? Well, just briefly the name Wii referred to We as in everyone. The ‘U’ refers, guess what, to you. A gaming system that’s right for everyone but also a perfect fit for only you. We are paraphrasing Nintendo here, hopefully it all makes sense.
The most striking feature of all on the new console is the controller. It incorporates a huge 6.2-inch touch screen capable of displaying high-definition visuals comparable to those produced by Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
For those that want them, the large touch screen is surrounded by numerous buttons and sticks: two analogue sticks, the cross-key direction pad, A, B, X, Y buttons on top, L, R, Z and B buttons at the back. It has a rumble feature built in, accelerometers, gyroscope, and an outward facing camera. Last but not least its own microphone and speakers.
At this point we need to point out that the Wii U controller is not a portable games console – it needs to communicate with the main console plugged in at home to function. However it can be used anywhere in the house, away from the living room if needed. You could be playing the new Ghost Recon or FIFA football while tucked up in bed. Not that we’re recommending such a thing.
Nintendo’s video demonstration showed the Wii U controller functioning as a graphics tablet, and how easy it is to transfer the fruits of your labour onto the nearest telly – with a flick of the wrist. There can be games made solely for the Wii U touch screen, such as Othello, it can be used to magnify sections of the screen – perfect for if you’re the Wicket Keeper in Cricket (Or a catcher in Baseball) because you can focus only on your hands while the batter on screen takes in the full view.
One of the best and most surprising new uses was as a golf tee for Wii Sports, placing an imaginary ball on the Wii U controller on the floor, then standing over it with the Wii remote to swing. We also liked how a virtual throwing star (shuriken) could be flicked toward targets on screen from the controller. It can be used as a scope for a gun or camera, enlarging objects as you move it around.
Even if you have absolutely no interest in games, the Wii U controller can be used for video calls across the secure Nintendo Network. You can even have a video call in progress while playing a Wii u game on the TV. It can also enhance web-browsing, again somebody could be searching the internet for a funny video clip and immediately transfer this to the telly upon finding it.
In summary, Nintendo intends the new console to create a strong bond between games, TV and the Internet. In turn this is hoped to create a strong bond between you, your friends and your family.
There are only two games confirmed for Wii U right now. The first is ‘Smash Bros’ which will also share features with a new version of ‘Smash Bros’ for Nintendo 3DS. Of more widespread interest though will be ‘LEGO City Stories’ from TT Games, a new instalment of the 60 million selling series
To feature an world game packed with LEGO vehicles. This will also be released for 3DS.
Other than that, Nintendo is currently showing off eight demos.
The first shows off what the hardware can do visually, a beautiful high-definition – almost photo-real – representation of a bird flying around a Japanese temple gardens. The cherry blossom of the trees, and the bark of the trees, is extraordinarily detailed. After the bird plucks a flower in its beak then drops it into the lifelike pond, a Koi Carp leaps from the water.
In a demo called ‘Shield Pose’ the Wii U controller demonstrates how the gaming space exists all around you, requiring that the controller is positioned to defend against arrows fired from all directions. ‘Chase Me’ provides different viewpoints for players holding a Wii remote or Wii U handset, the latter displaying a birds-eye view of the game-world so that you can see who’s closing in on you.
In a sci-fi shooting game scenario, two players aim Wii remotes at the pilot of a galactic fighter looking down as though from above. The best known characters are displayed in a version of ‘New Super Mario Bros’, dubbed ‘New Super Mario Bros Mii’ in which your Mii plays alongside Mario, on the TV or the Wii U controller.
Nintendo has already gained the support of the world’s biggest games publishers, chief among them Electronic Arts that has already formed an unprecedented partnership with Nintendo for Wii U. EA CEO John Riccitiello joined Nintendo President Satoru Iwata on stage to say that Wii U is a perfect fit for the new EA direction of games, evolving from things you can buy to places you can go. Riccitiello named ‘Battlefield’ and ‘Madden’ specifically, thrilled at the possibilities.
Other publishers listed include Namco Bandai, Ubisoft, Warner Bros and THQ whose Danny Bilson referred to the new system as boasting “The Swiss Army Knife of Controllers”.
To close the Wii U presentation, Nintendo’s showreel featured the following games. All of them look at least on par with what you are already getting on PS3 and Xbox 360, but with the cool controller shenanigans going on besides:
Aliens Colonial Marines (SEGA)
Darksiders II (THQ)
Metro Last Light, (THQ)
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razors Edge (Tecmo Koei)
Tekken (Namco Bandai)
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online (Ubisoft)
In short, we are honestly hugely impressed by Nintendo Wii U. If the price is right in 2012 the urge to own one will be almost irresistible. Look out for the hands-on report here on Yahoo! UK Games.
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