Nintendo pins hopes on Wii U to recapture glory days

7 Jun 2011

A curious new console from the Nintendo stable enigmatically titled the Wii U is envisaged by the Japanese games manufacturer as a key new platform that will put the Wii back in the front rank of motion-based games consoles.

Nintendo hasn’t had it easy of late. With both Sony’s PlayStation 3 Move and Microsoft’s Kinect motion-based controllers eating into a market it created, its woes this year were capped by the Japanese earthquakes.

However, at E3 today, Nintendo has shown it is capable of coming out fighting with a new video-game console that is half Wii, half tablet computer.

The new device will ship at some stage next year. The price of the new console hasn’t been revealed.

The new controller can display information on its screen that does not appear on the TV.

The information and viewpoint can also change in the new controller based on the orientation of its gyroscope.

In multiplayer games, the player using the new controller can have a different experience than those looking at the TV. This will offer a wide variety of competitive and co-operative opportunities.

In addition to the 6.2-inch screen, the new controller also features an accelerometer and a gyroscope, a rumble feature, an inward-facing camera, a microphone and speakers.

Adding these features to the Classic Controller button scheme – two analog Circle Pads, +Control Pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons and ZL/ZR buttons – will enable a breadth of game-play experiences while appealing to both casual and dedicated video-game players.

Full HD graphics

Wii U combines motion-sensing game play with the ability to support full HD graphics. Each Wii U console will be partnered with a new controller and can also use up to four additional Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus controllers.

The system is also backward compatible and can play all Wii games and use all Wii accessories.

The Wii console has sold more than 86m units globally and greatly expanded the overall audience for video games. Wii U aims to expand that audience even further. Developers worldwide are already working on new games and experiences for the console.

“Wii U redefines the structure of home entertainment by fundamentally changing how the TV, the game console and the internet function and interact together,” said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.

“The experience enabled by Wii U and the new controller takes players deeper into their games, while reaching out wider than ever before to be inviting to all kinds of gamers.”

Wii U

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years