After months of speculation, the Nintendo Stream / Beem / Traybake / Café was today revealed to be known as the Wii U. Slightly underwhelming name, some might say, but it does its job. Whereas the Wii was all about social and multiplayer gaming (hence the "we" sound), the Wii U adds a completely new layer of gaming, so that users can also have the console all to themselves. How so? Let's talk.
The Wii U includes a brand new method of gaming on home consoles - via a 6.3 inch touch screen, complete with two joysticks and the full d-pad/ABXYRL array of buttons you'd expect. The console is fully backwards compatible with existing controllers for the Wii, including the balance board, and is completely ready for full HD gaming on your TV. It's also ready for non-HD gaming in the palm of your hand. That's right, the touch screen can be used as a controller / screen combination for playing games and streaming content.
One important thing to note is that it is not a handheld device in itself, as it needs the console to be in range of the controller, keeping everything wireless in the home. As one developer stated during the conference: you can go to bed, and continue playing games even without a TV.
The controller also includes a front facing camera and microphone which makes video chat possible, gyroscope and accelerometers for motion controlled gaming, as well as rumble functionality, a speaker and a headphone jack slot. Accessories will also be available for the new console, with an adapted Wii Zapper shown during Nintendo's conference, which latches the screen above the standard Wii remote to be used as a scope in-game.
Most uses of the new controller were for the purpose of prototypes, with very few actual upcoming innovative uses of the controller being displayed during the show. Examples of how it could be used included an inventory in Zelda, as a visual aid for golf, showing the golf ball when placed on the floor, below your Wii remote "golf club", as a shield for deflecting arrows flying towards you, or as a means of flicking items onto the big screen. The controller could also be used as a way of browsing the internet, or playing a game at the same time as somebody else using the console on the TV themselves (presumably for WiiWare-type games, only).
It was great to see different developers all getting in on the action, especially with a variety of new core titles to make their debut on Nintendo systems. All the announced third party games are listed here, and include Battlefield, Assassins Creed, Ninja Gaiden and Tekken. Although the EA CEO John Riccitiello mentioned there would be a full online community and leaderboards in EA's Wii U games, little else was said about how online modes would work on the system.
The Wii U is expected some time next year, but dates and pricing aren't expected to be announced for some time yet.
Further hardware specifications
- 1.8 inches tall, 10.5 inches long, 6.8 inches wide
- 6.2 inch resistive touch screen
- Self loading media bay for 12-centimeter high-density 25GB optical discs & Wii games
- 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p & 480i via HDMI, component, S-video, composite
- Supports AV Multi Out connectors and six channel PCM linear output via HDMI
- No internal hard drive, but SD memory cards and external USB hard drives are supported. Unspecified internal flash memory
- Four USB 2.0 slots
- IBM Power-based multi core microprocessor
- Fully compatible with all existing Wii games and accessories
E3 2011 >