Six years after Nintendo launched the Wii, the Japanese video game giant has now unveiled its successor, the Nintendo Wii U.
While the Wii U made an appearance at E3 2011, not much was known about it, except that it featured a unique controller with its own display, then called The New Controller, and now called the Wii U GamePad or WiiPad. The secondary display on the GamePad would give rise to new gameplay possibilities, from showing meta-game information, to providing an independent (from the TV) display for an extra player, or even what Nintendo is calling ‘asymmetric gameplay’ of playing more than one games at the same time, with two Gamepad supported at the simultaneously.
Unfortunately at E3 2012, Nintendo did not reveal much more information about the Wii U console. Pricing is still unknown, with availability remaining the 2012 holiday season, as earlier expected. To ensure their E3 2012 conference was not a total disappointment however, Nintendo did show off roughly 23 Wii U game titles (including New Super Mario Bros. U, Wii Fit U, Pikmin 3, Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Darksiders II, Mass Effect 3, Just Dance 4, ZombiU, Assassin’s Creed III, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Tank!Tank!Tank!, Trine 2: Director’s Cut, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Aliens Colonial Marines, Yourshape Fitness Evolved 2013, Rayman Legends, Sports Connection, Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth), as well as some new 3DS titles (New Super Mario Bros. 2, Lego City Undercover, Castlevania: Lords of Shadows, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance) – barely leaving time to discuss the Wii U itself.
While the maxim ‘it is the games that make the console’ is still quite true, for Nintendo and its next-gen console to survive in the current market, the Wii U would have to run some pretty decent hardware to give gamers (or at least hardcore gamers) the powerful HD-quality graphics they’ve come to expect from Sony’s and Microsoft’s offerings, and other next-gen consoles (Xbox 720 and PS4).
Of the scant information revealed by Nintendo, we can start with the company’s explanation of its primary motivations for creating a controller with its own display – gamers can now access the Wii U console regardless of if the TV is being used by someone else, or even waiting for the TV to power up. For example, if users want to weigh themselves in on Wii Fit, they can do so without waiting for the TV. According Shigeru Miyamoto, the game console can now finally take on a more important role than the TV itself, after 30 years of it being the other way around.
Reggie Fils-Aime declared that Nintendo Wii U would revolutionize the living room, changing the way you game, the way you interact with friends, and the way you enjoy your TV. As for changing the way you game, we have The New Controller (the older Wii controllers, as well as the new Pro controller, will also work). As for social networking, we’ve the recently revealed Miiverse (which we now know, will be accessible via the 3DS, the PC, as well as mobile devices). And finally, as for ways to enjoy the TV, Nintendo will be tying up with entertainment providers such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and YouTube.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of the Nintendo press conference was the demo of the new Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition for the Wii U, which showed Batman and Catwoman in new armoured suits. The exclusive Bat mode, will allow the armoured Batman suit to collect kinetic energy, allowing it to deal increased damage. A new remote-controlled batarang will be controllable via the Wii U Gamepad’s touch display. Explosive foam can now be detonated using the touch display as well, and in a case of meta-game information, Batman’s inventory can be shown on the Gamepad while playing the game on the primary display.
Another major titbit dropped by Nintendo was NintendoLand, a theme-park styled game with twelve multiplayer attractions (Zelda, Luigi's Ghost Mansion), where Mii avatars will be able to interact, as well as single player attractions, such as Donkey Kong.
For now, that is all that has been revealed about the Nintendo Wii U, however, another Nintendo E3 2012 press conference has been scheduled for later in the event. Hopefully, Nintendo will provide more details then.