Nintendo is back to change the gaming experience with its latest console, the Wii U, arriving this month, just in time for the holidays, for $299.99. The company lured gamers off the couch with the release of the Wii in 2006, spearheading the motion-gaming segment that now includes Kinect for Xbox 360 and PlayStation Move. Nintendo now is pushing the envelope with Wii U’s cooperative gameplay and integration into home-entertainment systems.
“It changes your gaming,” Nintendo of America President Reginald Fils-Aime said during the company’s All-Access E3 2012 presentation. “It changes how you interact with your gaming friends, and it changes the way you enjoy your TV.” Here’s how.
Wii U marks the first time that a tablet has been integrated into a video game console. The system’s primary controller is the Wii U GamePad, which features 6.2-inch, 16:9 aspect ratio LCD touchscreen, traditional button controls and two analog sticks. Gamers use their fingertips or the included stylus for control on the tablet. Up to two GamePads can be used at the same time during gameplay.
“I know there are people out there who have iPads and are like, ‘What’s the big deal?’” says Shane Satterfield, editor-in-chief of GameTrailers.com. “Well, the big deal is that you’re playing tablet games that have been produced by huge teams who have worked on the game for two years instead of the iPad games that generally are real simple, easy to pick up and are more time-wasters.”
Game developers have many new features to work with on the Wii U platform. The GamePad’s personal screen integration with your TV enables double-screen gaming experiences. The tablet’s motion control includes the popular Nintendo rumble features, powered by an accelerometer and gyroscope. Thanks to an added geomagnetic sensor, gamers can see their virtual worlds in unprecedented 360-degree panoramic views. Plus, through near field communication, the GamePad can communicate wirelessly with objects held above it. This will allow users to program objects into games by setting a real object atop the GamePad screen, among other possibilities for interactive gameplay.
The Wii U GamePad feature that will help cement the console’s place in living rooms across the world is the TV Control button. This feature turns the GamePad into a universal remote for home entertainment systems.
When someone wants to watch TV while the Wii U is in use, gamers can keep playing on the tablet. And, they won’t have to stay on the couch; the system will stream the game to the tablet. “Basically you can count on being able to go into other rooms and continue playing games without having being tethered to the television,” Satterfield says.
So how does Wii U handle four controllers and two GamePads in use at once? The answer lies in the different roles assigned to controller and GamePad users during gameplay. In “New Super Mario Bros. U,” GamePad users can help or hinder their friends.
“Basically, what they can do is they can use the touch pad to create platforms in the environment.” Satterfield says. “Now, those platforms can either help Mario get to some place really high, or you can kind of be a jerk and wait until they jump and put a platform above his head and make him fall into a pit.
“It’s pretty innovative the way they’re finding ways to make people almost reflect their personality in how they play games,” Satterfield adds.
Opportunities to show personality surface in other Wii U titles like “ZombiU.” During gameplay, a GamePad user can select which zombies will attack the other players. Gamers will feel the tension when tasks that take place exclusively on the tablet arise (checking inventory, cracking door codes, etc.) while the game continues on their TV screen. That’s just a taste of the immersion experiences Wii U offers.
Hot Wii U titles for the holidays
New Super Mario Bros. U
It’s the two-dimensional Mario world you’ve always loved with multiplayer interaction you’ve never experienced before.
Grab hold of your weapons and survival kits and test your will to survive London’s zombie apocalypse.
Debut your karaoke talent with this new musical performance game, and have your friends back you up. The game prompts everyone to clap, dance and sing along.
Assassin’s Creed 3
Unleash lethal force on your enemies as a young, Native American assassin who ignites the fire behind the American Revolution.
Up to five players can explore 12 attractions in this virtual theme park of Nintendo franchises.
Batman Arkham City Armored Edition
Deliver justice to Gotham City with your new, wrist-mounted Batcomputer: The Wii U Gamepad.
It’s been eight years since the last “Pikmin” title’s release, and the reimagined world of strange creatures, treasures and enemies may be worth the wait.