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E3 Update: Nintendo Launches Next Wii: 'Wii U'

Posted by: , 23:09 AEST, Wed June 8, 2011

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The next Nintendo console will be the Wii U, with a controller that contains a 6.2 inch touchscreen

So by now, you should have heard about the Wii's successor. And no, it isn't simply called "Nintendo" (with no prefixes or suffixes), nor is it called Wii Stream (a stream of "Wii", really?), but it will be called "Wii U' (as in "We, You").

So what exactly is the Wii U? It's hard to say (and this may or may not be a good thing).

Let's get through the simple things first. So yes, a lot of the rumours were actually true. It will be HD, and from the early demos, it does seem to have it in the graphics department, something you could not say about the original Wii. With the meaty processing power present, plenty of 'hardcore' games were also touted, games like 'Aliens Colonial Marines', 'Tekken', with rumours suggesting games like 'Assassin's Creed', 'Batman Arkham City' will also be heading to the Wii U.

The console itself looks like a more rounded version of the current white Wii.

But then you get to the wireless controller, and it's more of a WTF moment.

The controller has large 6.2 inch touchscreen, that makes it more tablet than smartphone (and suggests Nintendo intends to compete in the smartphone/tablet gaming market). The controller, if you can still call it that, has all the features in the original Wii remote as well, including accelerometer, gyroscope, rumble, as well as a microphone and a front facing camera.

The controller screen can dub as a second screen to the action on TV, much like how the two displays work on a DS/3DS, or it can be used to play the entire game. It can also be used to interact with the game, for example, acting as a catcher's mitt to catch a ball on the TV. The screen can even act as a game board, a demo showed two people playing Othello on it. Nintendo promises that there will be zero latency between what's on the TV and what's on the controller screen.

The in-built camera allows augmented reality interaction, with one demo placing the controller flat on the floor in a golf game, and the golf ball is displayed on the screen as you try and swing and hit the ball.

The Wii U will also be backwards compatible with all existing Wii games and Wii peripherals, including the Wii remote, Nunchuck, and even Wii Fit (allowing you to weight yourself on a Wii Fit without a TV being present, using the Wii U controller as the display in this case). You can also use the controller for video chatting and to control your web browsing experience.

Despite the all powerful controller that's more DS than Wii, Nintendo insists it's not a replacement for Nintendo's portable consoles, as the Wii U controller must be tethered to the Wii U console. So no "on the go" gaming, as one recent rumour suggested.

The Wii U will be in stores sometime in 2012.

Update: More Wii U specs have now been released. It will feature a proprietary 25GB single layer disc format, which won't be Blu-ray, and so the Wii U won't be able to play Blu-ray movies.

In terms of other storage possibilities, the Wii U will have 4 USB ports allowing flash memory to be connected, as well as SD card support.

The console's CPU will be a 45nm IBM piece based on the same technology as Jeopardy's Watson supercomputer. And some of the earlier rumours, such as the use of an AMD Radeon R700 based GPU (based on the same chip as the PC's HD 4xxx series), has also been confirmed.

Here's the Nintendo Wii U announcement trailer:


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