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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 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.

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