The Wii U: Nintendo’s next console

Luis Badillo, Writer

Photo Courtesy Nintendo

A new video game console generation is about to begin. The Wii U, the successor to the Wii, is coming out in time for the holiday season.
With the new console comes a new set of features to set it apart from its current competition, the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3. The main distinction will be the Wii U’s “Game Pad”, a duel joystick controller with 4 face buttons and a 6.2-inch touch screen in the center. The Gamepad will have motion-sensing capabilities and will be programmable to function with most TV set-top boxes as a television remote. The system is also compatible with any Wii’s MotionPlus controllers.

The Gamepad’s touch screen is a first for the company. Nintendo President, Saturo Iwata, has gone on record that the company will encourage “asymmetrical gameplay” design with the GamePad. “Wii U makes asymmetric gameplay possible, which means the role of a player using the Wii U GamePad is different from the other players using the conventional Wii Remote controllers” said Iwata in an annual report.

Nintendo has demonstrated this philosophy with Nintendo Land, a game that will be released on the same day as the Wii U. Nintendo Land is a collection of Nintendo franchise themed minigames that are designed around the touch screen. One such minigame, Mario Chase, demonstrated how a player with the Wii U gamepad could navigate a large maze with an overhead view, while four other players viewing the TV screen can use Wii remotes to chase the first player around. Another mini-game, Metroid Blast, had two players equipped with laser guns attempting to shoot down a spaceship controlled by the person with the Wii U gamepad.

Nintendo has also loaded several new online features to attract gamers this holiday season. The miiverse is a social network built right into the console. It allows Wii U owners to share thoughts on games, help other players stuck on the same game you’re playing, or just share status updates. The Miiverse will also be accessible through web browsers, as well as mobile devices. Nintendo TVii is another new service provided by Nintendo that will work in conjunction with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Video, and TiVo. Wii U aggregates content from all of the services and makes them available right from your console. Wii U games will also be available through the Nintendo eShop, a service that will allow users to purchase and download digital versions of Wii U titles. These services are free and are available on the launch date.

There will be two models will available for purchase. The basic model will come with a console, GamePad, basic connection cables, and 8 gigabytes of internal storage. The “deluxe” comes with all the contents of the basic package, along with 32 gigabytes of internal storage, a GamePad cradle, a copy of Nintendo Land, and enrollment in premium service on Nintendo Direct, which will reward users with redeemable points based on purchases. The basic and deluxe packs will be $299 and $349 respectively.

There will be 23 games available on launch day, including New Super Mario Bros. Wii U, Nintendo Land, Assassin’s Creed 3, ZombiU, SiNG Party, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The Wii U will be available on Nov. 18, 2012.