As expected, Nintendo has unveiled its console sequel to the Wii at E3.
The Nintendo Wii U continues the company’s rather dubious naming policy – U what… what’s wrong with Wii 2, eh? – mind you, folks thought the Wii was a silly name at first for obvious reasons, but that didn’t stop it selling.
Anyhow, the sequel (named U because it’s tailored for “you”, by all accounts) comes as predicted with a large controller that’s actually a hybrid tablet. The chunky controller has a 6.2 inch touchscreen and a front-facing camera as well as the gaming controls, a pair of analogue sticks, d-pad and the usual buttons.
The separate controller display can replicate the action on the big screen so if dad walks into the room and wants to watch football on the HDTV, his son can continue to play his game on the tablet controller.
The tablet can also display information not on the main screen, a pretty cool feature for local multiplayer gaming when for example you’re playing a card game and don’t want your opponent to see your hand.
Furthermore, it can be used to play old Ninty games, and also has motion sensing built-in, so can be used in conjunction with the TV screen in games to accurately pitch a baseball and then attempt to catch the resultant fly ball as illustrated in the trailer. Or as the sights to aim the gun in a shooter. Check out the video here…
Oh and it comes with a stylus (some have called the controller a giant 3DS). Finally, the hardware can of course be used as a tablet to browse the web, and to make video calls via the front-facing camera.
It’s certainly an innovative hybrid idea, and Nintendo has to be commended for once again bringing originality to the table of console gaming. Of course, the tablet/handheld controller isn’t the only new feature of the Wii U.
High Definition graphics are also supported by the console’s multi-core processor, again as predicted, to keep the visual side of the Wii up with the likes of the Xbox and PS3.
The new console will also be backwards compatible with existing controllers and peripherals such as the balance board in a smart move by Nintendo.
So when’s the all important launch date? The rough window is the second half of 2012, although there’s a chance it could sneak in before that and come out in Q2. We could have the Wii U inside a year…. excited by that prospect, or not?
Nintendo will be hoping it can attract not just casual but more core gamers with 1080p HD graphics on this novel system, which could also effectively entice more people into the world of the tablet with its basic slate capabilities.
Concerns at the moment revolve around the potential price and weight of the tablet controller. It looks quite chunky, and if it’s to be pointed at the screen and used to direct games, that could be a strain in a longer gaming session. It shouldn’t be a design element Nintendo has overlooked, however, and hopefully it’ll be light enough.
Price-wise, Nintendo isn’t saying anything, but that will of course be key when the Wii U comes out next year.