Nintendo altered the course of gaming history when it released its Nintendo Wii system in 2006. It hopes to do the same this fall when it releases its next generation console, Wii U. As information on features, specs, and game titles trickles out, it appears that Wii U may just be the best gaming system to ever hit the market.
When gaming giant Nintendo introduced its Wii console on November 19, 2006, it took the gaming world by storm. Before the Wii, gamers were chained to a controller featuring multiple joysticks and an overload of buttons. The premiere of the Wii console marked an important step towards reaching the ultimate goal of gaming without the need for a remote. While players still had to hold a remote, it featured only a few buttons and relied primarily on motion capture technology. Playing a baseball game and want to hit that curve all? Nintendo made hitting a home run a lot more satisfying because you must physically swing the remote at the right time, instead of merely pressing a button.
This technological advancement came at a price, however. Games were simplified and the graphics became a lot less detailed and interesting. The simplification made the console more attractive for families and individuals that did not fit the typical gamer demographic. The tradeoff for Nintendo is that hardcore gamers were not impressed by the simplified game play and migrated elsewhere, including to the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and computer desktops.
Nintendo hopes that Wii U will lure back these diehard players, and judging by early reports, they’ll succeed. The first thing you’ll notice about the Wii U is that the minimalist controller has been abandoned in favor of a two-handed controller with a large screen. Older gamers will remark that it looks quite a bit like the Sega GameGear, Nintendo Game Boy’s former chief competitor. The large screen means that gamers can continue shooting aliens or complete role playing quests, even if the TV is turned off.
Unlike the current Wii, the new console will be completely connected to the internet, meaning that games will be stored on the cloud instead of memory cards. This isn’t an edge on the competitors, but it removes one of its main disadvantages. Nintendo will also offer third-party digital downloads of content.
It won’t be a cheap investment. Observers believe that the Wii U will cost at least $300, far more than current prices for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 who boast comparable computing power. While Nintendo refuses to confirm the rumors, evidence does suggest that games will remain affordable. PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 titles average $60, but industry observers think Nintendo Wii U titles will stick to $49.99.
One of the first publishers to publically sign-on to releasing games for the Wii U was Ubisoft, creators of the popular “Assassin’s Creed” and “Just Dance” series. “We have been extremely happy with the functionality of the console and the use. What is really interesting is the fact that we have this tablet that allows us to bring totally new gameplay, and also brings the possibility to have a lot more social functionalities, because you can have now a screen to play asynchronously with your friends, to receive challenges and to really have a screen to communicate with your friends. That is going to help tremendously the experience in video games,” explained Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot.
Amazon has already released a list of games that will be available on Nintendo Wii U when it launches later this year. Available games include: “Darksiders II,” “DiRT,” “Aliens Colonial Marines,” “New Super Mario Bros. Mii,” “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online,” “Metro Last Light,” “Tekken,” and “Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge.”
Do you think the Nintendo Wii U’s new controller, internet connectivity, and increased computing power to handle more complex games will make it the best gaming console on the market?
Tyler is a tech writer for CableTV.com