sore thumbs

June 16, 2011 |
By Matthew Scott Hunter


Wii U


The Wii is nearing its end. It was a bold, innovative little machine, dominating the home console market with its unprecedented appeal to casual gamers. Microsoft and Sony didn’t know what hit them and have poured a lot of effort into mimicking the Little Console that Could with Kinect and PlayStation Move, respectively. But Nintendo consoles tend to have a lifespan of little more than five years, so it came as no surprise when, at last week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Nintendo officially unveiled their new console: the Wii U. “It’s a system WE will all enjoy together, but also one that’s tailor-made for YOU,” explained Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime at the company’s E3 media briefing. After its experience with the Wii, Nintendo has presumably decided that misspelled pronouns are good luck.

The Wii U will feature HD graphics and will be fully backwards compatible with Wii games (and controllers), but it’s the new controller that really defines the system. Something of an iPad with buttons, the Wii U controller includes a 6.2-inch touchscreen and a front-facing camera along with the traditional face buttons, triggers, D-pad, etc. Although Nintendo didn’t have any real games on hand to show the Wii U in action, they did feature a number of demos that hinted at the controller’s potential. A Zelda demo showed a battle scene completely uncluttered by any heads-up display, which had been relegated to the controller’s screen. Another demo showed someone flicking ninja throwing stars off the touchscreen, which then impacted on targets on the TV screen. Although Nintendo stressed that the Wii U is not a portable gaming device, games can be played exclusively on the controller’s screen, freeing up the TV for others. No price point was announced for the new console or its expensive-looking controller. As much as the Wii’s success owes to its creative design, it may owe even more to the fact that it was significantly cheaper than the competition, so it’ll be interesting to see how much that extra letter adds to the price. CV