Apparently too many consumers are saying, “Wii Who” because Nintendo is launching a new console, Wii U. And you guessed it; the latest and greatest will likely be out just in time for holiday giving. However, some are saying the product won’t be available until first quarter 2012. Either way, parents, prepare for no doubt the marketing campaign to our young’uns that will launch about the time you finish reading this column.
If you’re like me — Wii’ed to the max with cabinets, containers and closets of Wii remotes, light sabers, guns, wheels, nunchucks and balance boards, as well as the rubber protective gear to go with it all, not to mention CD case after CD case of Wii games — the news of yet another Wii, the Wii U, will make you curse.
I have no interest in reWii-ing by reinvesting in new gear to go with a new console. It’s like always having to buy a new car charger every time I upgrade my cell phone.
Apparently Nintendo anticipated such a push back from old faithfuls like me because this new Wii console utilizes old Wii gear. Of course, there is new Wii gear for you who get the “U,” but all of the ancillary and totally necessary expensive pieces of equipment purchased during the last few years in order to play the Wii games will work with Wii U.
In fact, the console can be played simultaneously with new and old remotes. Players, up to four, can use the old Wiimote (or Wii controller to the uninitiated) while another player uses the new controller, which is rechargeable.
Also, the favored games, like MarioKart, Donkey Kong Country Returns, Epic Mickey and the hundreds of others released during the last six years of Wii-ing, will still work with the U. Nintendo continues to release new Wii games like Cars 2: The Video Game and Wii Play Motion, both available June 21. These games will be compatible on the Wii U, too.
At this point, Nintendo has only announced one game specifically developed for the U, and that is LEGO City Stories, a game already getting outstanding reviews. It allows players to drive around life-sized cities on varying missions and in different LEGO vehicles. The game will also be available on the DS.
This Wii U, announced and demonstrated in early June at the Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 in Las Vegas, has an iPad-like controller with a 6.2-inch display and eight buttons, two analog sticks or Circle Pads, speakers, microphone and a camera. It really looks like a large DS with a touchscreen and Wii and DS buttons merged onto one handheld controller.
The console itself is 1.8 inches tall, 6.8 wide and 10.5 long. It has a single self-loading media bay that plays 12-centimeter proprietary high-density optical discs, as well as 12-centimeter Wii optical discs.
What’s revolutionary about the Wii U is its interaction with the television as well as its standalone capabilities. The touch screen can be manipulated to zoom in on what’s on the television screen, be it a video game or a Web site. The controller can also act as a game itself and work independent of the big screen television.
The controller comes with a stylus as well as a motion controller, and it’s all High Definition (HD). You’ll be able to see the fleas in Donkey Kong’s fur and Mario’s nose hairs, right?
Such detail will surely cost U, but Nintendo has not said how much. Estimates on the price for the Wii U range from $299 to $400. What’s worse than another high-priced video console? It marks the beginning of the launch of other high-priced video consoles. Surely, Sony and Microsoft will follow suit shortly.