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Wii U console

Wii U controller

New Super Mario Bros. Mii

Wii U controller used in 5-player gaming
The Wii U features an innovative controller with a built-in 6.2" screen

Nintendo's Wii was a smash hit when it launched in 2006 and was sold out for months as buyers scrambled to get their hands on one. The Wii's sales streak continued for years until the downturn in the economy and competing motion-controlled accessories started making their way to more powerful consoles (Kinect on Xbox 360 and Move for the PlayStation 3).

I. The Wii U controller

Keeping this in mind, Nintendo is looking stay relevant in the home gaming console market and today announced its Wii successor: the Wii U. While the name isn't very imaginative at all, the Wii takes an intriguing new direction in controller design with a large, integrated 6.2" color LCD. The screen is flanked by two analog pads, a "cross" control pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons, and ZL/ZR buttons.

In addition, the controller features an accelerometer, gyroscope, rumble support, microphone, speakers, stylus, sensor strip, and a front-facing camera. Nintendo also says that in single-player mode, what is displayed on the controller's screen can change based on its orientation with the TV screen. Likewise, the controller can also display information that isn't readily available on the TV screen. 

For single-player games, it sounds like unnecessary complexity for gamers who will now have to divide their attention between a 6.2" display and a 42"+ HDTV, but we'll give Nintendo the benefit of the doubt with this one. After all, not many expected gamers to be receptive to Wii Remote + Nunchuk.

However, with multiplayer games, things get a bit more interesting. Nintendo showed a demo of a multiplayer game with four players using traditional Wii Remotes (4-player, split-screen). A fifth player was able to join in on the action with the new Wii U controller using the 6.2" display to keep up with the other players. Check out this video demonstration to see how the screen can be used in multiplayer.

While the new Wii U controller is the attention grabber today, the old Wii Remote/Remote Plus, Nunchuk, Classic Controller, and Balance Board are all supported by the new console.

II. The Wii U console

As for the console itself, it looks like a Wii that has bulked up a bit and gained a few more curves. The Wii U measures 10.5" in length, 6.8" in width, and 1.8" in height.
An IBM Power-based multi-core processor will power the console. We don't know how powerful this processor is, but the graphics don't really seem to impress at the moment and don't look much different from the current Wii (see game screenshots on the right).

Like the original Wii, it will debut in white (although there are sure to be other colors introduced down the road). The Wii U will output 1080p over HDMI (component, S-video, and composite connections will be available to those still stuck in the dark ages). 

When it comes to storage, the Wii U has an unspecified amount of onboard flash memory, a built-in Secure Digital slot (like the original Wii), and four USB 2.0 ports. USB thumb drives and external USB hard drives will be supported. It's unknown if the Wii U's optical drive will support DVD playback, but Nintendo would be pretty boneheaded to disable that feature like they did with North American Wii consoles.

Also, for those of you that have a stash of Wii games collecting dust on the shelf, they will also be playable on the Wii U.

“Wii U redefines the structure of home entertainment by fundamentally changing how the TV, the game console and the Internet function and interact together,” said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. “The experience enabled by Wii U and the new controller takes players deeper into their games, while reaching out wider than ever before to be inviting to all kinds of gamers.” 

Since the Wii U won't be released until 2012, the company isn't quite ready to reveal pricing at this time.

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RE: WTF controller...
By amanojaku on 6/7/2011 3:51:08 PM , Rating: 2
Did you see the game play videos? Did you read the part about the Wii U supporting the existing controllers? It looks better than it sounds. Finally, the graphics look better. Not quite a PS3 or 360, but definitely better!

RE: WTF controller...
By ClownPuncher on 6/7/2011 3:55:42 PM , Rating: 2
I did, I made no comment on the console or the games. That controller looks like an abomination. I get you don't have to use it, but it looks like an abomination.

RE: WTF controller...
By someguy123 on 6/7/2011 4:03:30 PM , Rating: 2
How does it look like an abomination?

This is what people have been asking for in touch screens ever since they became popular: a gamepad not part of the screen itself.

RE: WTF controller...
By stm1185 on 6/7/2011 4:38:04 PM , Rating: 5
A 6 inch HD screen on each controller, how will that not cost over $100 per controller.

And what is the real benefit of it, I get to look at my controller while I am playing a game on a TV?

They should have an option to have a picture in picture window on screen with what the controller would show and a nice standard game controller like the Xbox and PS3 has that would retail for under $40. Or hell even let me use my mouse and keyboard since it has usb ports, or even a wired xbox 360 controller.

The focus on gimmicky peripherals instead of solid gameplay these last few years of console gaming has gotten to just retarded levels. And they still havent gotten a better setup then mouse and keyboard for shooters and rpgs!

RE: WTF controller...
By someguy123 on 6/7/2011 5:53:22 PM , Rating: 3
well, I can't really argue that nintendo loves gimmicky peripherals, but they've been doing this since the NES era.

The screen is meant to be an extension, or, like in the video, as a method of targeting by placing the controller over the screen (from a distance). Think of it like the DS's touch screen. You could use it as inventory management, or use it to issue gesture commands like with zelda for the DS.

RE: WTF controller...
By tastyratz on 6/8/2011 7:52:52 AM , Rating: 2
I am sure it will be proficient in allowing me to look down at my hands for some arbitrary statistic long enough to look up and find my character died.

Seriously I *DO* see where this could come in handy for a specific type of game. In reality what it will do is DISCOURAGE family play by incredibly expensive controllers that will either be heavy from a big battery or have very poor battery life.

I can see how an extension screen add on could be useful for those times you want to shield information from other players (think plays in a football game). But for the majority this gimmick will become tiresome and annoying. By being in the default controller I am sure game developers will go wild with using it making support for legacy controllers spotty at best, or just for legacy games.

I guess we will have to see how many old people want to shake a tablet at their tv.

Clearly nobody learned from the atari jaguar controller:

RE: WTF controller...
By MrBlastman on 6/8/2011 12:16:52 PM , Rating: 2
It looks bulky to say the least.

As for inventory management? Okay, the screenshot looks cool. But then, after looking at it, I was reminded of my Atari 2600 back in... 1983.

Yeah, I said 1983. See, in 1983 there was this game called Star Raiders--great game, by the way. In it, you used a keypad that hooked up to the Atari with a plastic overlay for what each button did. With the keypad, you could access starmaps and other ship functions while using the joystick and fire button to fly the craft.

Yeah, this was back in 1983... on a console.

Okay, I'll be fair--in 1983 we didn't have a digital touch screen as the pad. This new iteration looks far cooler. But, it is just that, a new iteration. It's been done before, in a different and far more low-tech way.

RE: WTF controller...
By Synastar on 6/8/2011 5:59:43 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, you just took me back. I remember picking that game up post 1984 crash for like $3 with the keypad. Good times when you're 10. Three bucks wasn't a hard sell to mom and dad.

The Wii U controller looks slick but yeah, if it's even heavy as an iPad, I foresee some arm fatigue.

RE: WTF controller...
By superstition on 6/9/2011 6:12:26 AM , Rating: 2
Star Raiders actually came out in 1979, the same year that the Mattel Intellivision console came out. That console came with controllers that had keypads and overlays. The Intellivision, by the way, could do speech synthesis with an add-on.

Coleco's Colecovision, which came out a few years later, also had keypad controllers with overlays.

RE: WTF controller...
By superstition on 6/9/2011 6:14:18 AM , Rating: 2
Ok.. The 2600 console version of Star Raiders came out in 1982, so it looks like the Intellivision was the first to market with keypad + overlay controllers. And they were standard.

RE: WTF controller...
By ClownPuncher on 6/7/2011 5:16:12 PM , Rating: 5
Because it throws ergonomics out the window. It simply doesn't look comfortable to hold.

I'm glad everyone is hyped about Nintendo entering the more serious game market once again, but how many hours of gaming do you think you can take while holding this thing?

RE: WTF controller...
By someguy123 on 6/7/2011 5:51:01 PM , Rating: 2
On the back there are pieces of plastic curved out for your hand. If you looked at the "controller" separate from the screen, it's very similar to the wii-mote, except not as ergonomic as the nunchuck.

At any rate, it depends a lot on how heavy this thing is. if it's heavy, I can see a real problem, but if it's light it should be fine.

RE: WTF controller...
By Manch on 6/8/2011 11:18:59 AM , Rating: 2
hopefully you wont have to keep it plugged in on a marathon gaming session. I'd be piss if I had to constantly recharge the damn thing or play with it plugged in.

RE: WTF controller...
By phantom505 on 6/7/2011 6:09:50 PM , Rating: 2
How about you hold one and find out rather than speculate wildly?

RE: WTF controller...
By ClownPuncher on 6/7/2011 6:27:24 PM , Rating: 2
You're doing the same amount of speculation. Are you the Tony Swash of Nintendo or something?

RE: WTF controller...
By phantom505 on 6/7/11, Rating: -1
RE: WTF controller...
By torpor on 6/8/2011 12:43:31 PM , Rating: 1
I can see it now...

wiiu is hueg lol

RE: WTF controller...
By M4gery on 6/9/2011 10:09:48 AM , Rating: 2
How does it look like an abomination?

Did you even look at the damned thing? How does it NOT look like an abomination? It is huge, unweildly, non-ergonomic, and that touchscreen is a joke. It may look cool, but shifting focus constantly like that = migraine in no time flat.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken

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