On Tuesday, June 07 at the E3 Expo 2011, the entire gaming world waited with bated breath for Nintendo to sort out the rumor mill and confirm what we all hoped to hear. Formerly codenamed "Project Café," Nintendo announced their next-generation home console, the Wii U. Before I begin, head on over to the image gallery linked below to see the Wii U in all its glory -- including images of a new Mario game, Super Mario Brothers Mii!
As you can see from the images, Nintendo has stepped things up considerably with the Wii U controller. Seeing the controller is just the start, though. Check out the specs as noted on Nintendo's site:
The new controller incorporates a 6.2-inch, 16:9 touch screen and traditional button controls, including two analog Circle Pads. This combination removes the traditional barriers between games, players and the TV by creating a second window into the video game world. The rechargeable controller includes a Power button, Home button, +Control Pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons and ZL/ZR buttons. It includes a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, rumble feature, camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, a sensor strip and a stylus.
Additionally, make sure you check out my colleague Gloria Sin's in-depth write-up on Nintendo's new controller.
During their E3 presentation, Nintendo showed a wide array of scenarios the new controller can be used for. Perhaps my favorite is the ability to transfer what you're playing from the TV to the screen on the controller! Kids, that means the next time mom and dad want to ruin your fun by stealing the TV from you, you can simply move all the fun to the screen you hold in your hands! This functionality is only the start, though. Various in-game views can be achieved and publisher EA noted exciting possibilities like moving the play selection screen in Madden off the big screen and onto the privacy of your controller. If you play Madden with friends, you know how awesome this would be. Check out the video below for much more on Nintendo's vision for the new controller:
Nintendo's primary focus with this console was not just to bring something revolutionary to the table, but to bring a heavy-hitter to the table that would unify both camps of gamers: casual and core. Most analysts saw this as a necessity for the health of the company who has seen a steady decline in sales figures over the past few years. Finally, a Nintendo console will hit the market that is strong enough for games like Ninja Gaiden 3, Assassin's Creed, and more (as showcased in a demo).
My roommate, who is a hardcore gamer, made a rather interesting comment after seeing those games run on the Wii U: "Next year, I can just buy Nintendo's console and not have to worry about buying 360 or PS3 games ever again." Naturally, he's not 100% serious, but he's completely willing to go all-in with Nintendo's new offering and I'm curious to see how many other hardcore gamers out there share his sentiments.
Nintendo also showcased a rather impressive demo to prove the graphics capabilities of the Wii U. While I thought it looked quite impressive, I'm not sure if it showed off the console to the extent that it proved stronger than the PS3 or Xbox 360, as was rumored prior Nintendo's confirmation of the Wii U. Have a look at the video below and judge for yourself (make sure you watch it in HD to really get the full effect):
Again, that looks quite nice, but I'm personally waiting on someone like Crytek to come along and really blow us away by showcasing a demo of CryEngine 4 (if it's out by then) maxing out the Wii U's specs sometime next year! If you missed it, check out their old demo of CryEngine 3 running on Xbox 360 and PS3 from 2009. Anyway, I'm personally very excited about the marriage of casual and core gamers on the Wii U. I've been a fan of Nintendo's since the NES days, so they've always held a special place in gaming with me. If they can get game developers on board to develop unique experiences utilizing the Wii U's controller, then Nintendo may well stand a chance to pick up steam again and reclaim the coveted gaming throne they held for years.
Unfortunately, Nintendo has yet to release any details on pricing or exact availability (sometime in 2012), but I'm guessing we'll probably see the Wii U hit the market with a $349.99 - $399.99 price tag or somewhere thereabouts. As for the new controller, I can see those being marketed for between $79.99 - $99.99, easy. If you will notice in some of the screen shots in the gallery up top, Nintendo shows the Wii U being controlled with regular old Wii controllers. This means the new controller won't be a necessity for all games, thus leaving room for the new controller to be a luxury (though one will obviously come with the purchase of a Wii U). I could be way off-base with my speculation, though, so don't quote me on all of that.
Yes, "Wii U" sounds only slightly more ridiculous than "Wii," but still not quite as bad as "iPad," in my humble opinion. ;) Silly names aside, check out the videos below to get a more well-rounded feel for the Wii U. To start, here is a technical demo using a faux level of Zelda to showcase some of the effects of the Wii U. Unfortunately, we don't get to see this as beautifully as we would if we were there in-person, but this will do for now:
Next up, here's a look at the third party studio games currently in the works for the Wii U:
And now, here is an extended look into game-play on the Wii U, courtesy of Nintendo:
Lastly, here's a bit of humor for you (I thought it was funny, at least)! Here is the first Wii U commercial:
Gotta love clips from the movie Kung Pow. Anyway, if you're interested in seeing even more of the Wii U, I recommend heading on over to YouTube and just going to town. Additionally, you can always head over to Nintendo's official Wii U site or the Wii U Wikipedia page; they're both quite informative.
All-in-all, Nintendo appears to have stepped it up considerably and it may just be to the benefit of the future of the company. Nintendo has once again given the industry a breath of fresh air and a reason to step up its game. Hopefully, the experiences we will see birthed with the Wii U will leave a permanent impression on gaming that lasts for years to come. Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave your comments and let everyone know what you think of the Wii U! Personally, I'm super-excited for it and absolutely cannot wait to get a hold of one!
-Stephen ChapmanSEO WhistleblowerRelated Stories: