Nintendo Wii U guide: Everything there is to know

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Nintendo have revealed their successor to their mega-popular Wii console at E3. Formally known as Project Cafe, it now has an official name: the Nintendo Wii U. And, just like the Wii and Nintendo DS and 3DS before it, it’s got a few game-changing features and stunning innovations that will make your jaw drop. Read on for all we know so far about the Nintendo Wii U.

So what’s special about the Wii U then?

The Wii U is Nintendo’s first HD games console, making Nintendo new machine as graphically crisp as that of the PS3 or Xbox 360. However, this is far from being the main draw of the console, as the Wii U will continue the Wii’s taste for innovation by offering a massive controller, fully motion compatible, dominated by an iPad-like touchscreen.

Using 25GB proprietary optical discs for games alongside downloadable content, the Wii U will also be totally backwards compatible with your old Wii titles, as well as making use of the old Wii Remotes in some capacity, meaning your last-generation peripherals wont be left collecting dust.

That Wii U controller is crazy! What’s going on there?

Isn’t it just? Like the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo before it, the Wii U’s controller is one of the strangest peripherals we’ve ever seen. A massive slate with a full suite of analogue sticks, triggers, face buttons and a D-Pad, like the Wii it too features motion controls, as well as introducing a camera that points directly at the player. However, things get really interesting when you take into account the 6.2 inch touchscreen that dominates the controller’s centre. While the console itself is HD, this touchscreen isn’t and from word coming in from hands-on tests so far, seems to have a resolution similar to that of the iPad.

It’s how this new screen will be employed that’s most interesting though. As well as obvious applications like item management in adventure games and removing overcrowded HUD and map data from the main screen, it has a few other intriguing gameplay uses, particularly in multiplayer modes where each player could in theory have their own individual screen. It’d be great for local FPS shooter games, where a split screen mode gives away an opponent’s location for instance. Alternatively, demos have suggested that many Wii U games can be played simply by viewing them through this touchscreen – no HD TV needed, which will be great if Mum and Dad want to watch the news while little Jenny and Jimmy want to carry on playing. They’ll be able to do that with this built in screen. For a better idea of how all this will work, check out the demo video below which features a few of Nintendo’s E3 tech-demos being shown off:

What are the Wii U console’s specs?

Nintendo have yet to reveal the full specs of the Wii U, and it’s worth remembering that all that we’ve seen so far is technically still in the prototype stage and subject to change. Here’s what we know so far though:

IBM Power-based multi-core 45nm microprocessor
AMD Radeon HD GPU
Controller with built-in accelerometer, gyroscope, speakers, front-facing camera, microphone and 6.2in 16:9 touchscreen
1080p/1080i/720p/480p/480i video output
HDMI
SD
USB

What games will launch with the Wii U?

Nintendo stressed that all games on show at this year’s E3 for the Wii U were just tech-demos, designed to show off the console’s potential, and were all unlikely to make it to retail in their current form.

However, they were happy to reveal a handful of games that should be ready to launch alongside the console upon its eventual release. They were Super Smash Bros 4, Lego City Stories, Batman: Arkham City, an Assassin’s Creed game, Dirt, Ghost Recon Online, Tekken, Metro: Last Light, Aliens Colonial Marines, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, and Darksiders II.

As you can see, there’s a fair few games there aimed to appeal directly to both the casual and hardcore markets (there’s no way you’d have seen a gory Aliens game on the original Wii for instance), so it looks as though Nintendo are really trying to cater for all tastes with this console. As the name suggests its just as much about “U” and your hardcore single player experiences this time around as much as it is “Wii” and our causal multiplayer parties.

There aren’t many 1st party titles confirmed though (such as in-house Mario or Zelda games made by Nintendo) but we’d be surprised if that didn’t change before launch. However, it’s good to see so many third party developers, like Gearbox and Ubisoft, with their biggest titles, already onboard.

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How much will it cost?

Though the Wii is currently one of the most affordable consoles on the market, you can expect the souped-up Wii U to cost a fair bit more when it launches. “I don’t think we can charge the same price as we currently do for the Wii,” Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told Japan’s Nikkei Newspaper. With the Wii launching in 2006 for a price of $250 (£179 in the UK), we’d expect roughly the same price range for the Wii U, and the usual mark up for the UK to around £200. That mad controller looks pretty special too, and we’d be surprised to see that sell for less that $60 or £50, maybe even a whole lot more considering all the crazy tech that’s undoubtedly tucked away in there.

When will it be released?

Any time between April 2012 and December 2012. That’s a pretty big time-frame, but we’d put money on the Wii U launching in November (just in time for the Christmas rush), just as the original Wii did. Hopefully supply will match demand this time.

Gerald Lynch

6 comments

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  • Can’t wait. But I’m wondering if my Virtual Console and Wii Ware games can be ported over too. I’d hate to have to keep the old Wii around. As far as the Gamecube compatibility of the old Wii . . I’ve still got a GameCube I use so no loss there.

    Let’s hope Nintendo get’s it with this . . like built in Netflix streaming. (even onto the touchscreen). Let’s see some Hulu Plus love too.

    With a 6 in touchscreen they could add some Twitter and FaceBook support with a virtual keyboard.

    Add the camera for a skype like service (no actual skype since MS is buying it)

    Heck they should reach out to Boxee and incorporate that too, especially since now it will support a USB drive.

    Dang you know, they should hire me to think of these things for them.

  • Simply want to say your article is awesome. The clarity in your post is simply impressive and I can take for granted you are an expert on this field…

  • Smash Bros will most definitely not be ready to launch alongside the console. Nintendo said that they won’t even consider to start working on it until they’ve finished work on Kid Icarus! They were merely announcing that they plan to create a Smash Bros game that somehow incorporates usage of the 3DS along side it. Sakurai also expressed his distaste to Iwata revealing SSM at such an early stage.
    The Last one took them 3 years to make, this one is likely to take the same amount of time, if not more!

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