Several weeks ago, I mentioned that Nintendo had announced a successor to the Wii. Nintendo gave no details on the new gaming system, but rumors obviously had already begun. Thankfully, we didn’t have long to wait until the annual E3 Expo to get more details. Yesterday, Nintendo announced the Wii U, a system that is “different from anything you’ve played before”.

To prove that quote, Nintendo came out swinging, announcing a new type of controller…..one that has a 6.2-inch touchscreen, a Wii-style D-pad, dual analog sticks. The new Wii U controller will also have a motion sensor and front and back facing cameras. I admitted in my previous Wii article that I wasn’t really a Wii guy, but this has my attention. In a world where seemingly every mobile company is introducing some sort of a tablet computer, Wii U goes one step further and gives you something of a tablet controller!

While Nintendo did say that you will not be able to play games on the tablet controller alone (the controller “speaks” with the console), you can play games by watching the controller touch screen and using the dual analog sticks…and some games will most likely require some sort of tilting/moving of the touchscreen controller. The original Wii remote (and I assume the Nunchuck) will still be used in the same way with the new Wii U. The new touchscreen controller will not support HD graphics, but Nintendo did announce that the console will run in HD 1080p. Given the PS3 and Xbox 360 released HD graphics several years ago, this was a requirement (in my opinion) for the new Wii U.

In the one preview video I watched, 4 people were playing a Mario game on the new system. 3 of the players were using the original Wii controller, and 1 player was using the new touchscreen controller. Each person was a character, and the touchscreen controller player was being chased with a goal of reaching the finish line of “board” before being caught by any of the other 3 players. The chasing players played by watching the television, and the player being chased watched on the 6.2-inch touchscreen. VERY cool!

There are still quite a few remaining details surrounding the new Wii U, but Nintendo did exactly what they needed to do. Sales are hurting with the current Wii console, and its shelf life is coming to an end. With the new Wii U, Nintendo has rebuilt the excitement that once surrounded the original Wii. While they have not announced what other capabilities the new controller will have, it seems as though the possibilities are endless. Will the new tablet style controller have Wi-Fi and internet capabilities? That seems like a stretch, and would probably be too much of a cost to what could already be an expensive console. Will the Wii U console play dvds? Seems like it will need to to remain competitive with other consoles, but there are still lots of questions to be answered.

What do you think? Are you excited for the new Wii U?



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Bob Inferapels partners with Cheri Nobel to write a weekly column on entertainment and recreational activities. Read all of Bob’s articles in The Playground.

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