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"It's a system we will all enjoy together, but also one that's tailor-made for you."
Reggie Fils-Aime, E 3 2011 press conference

The Wii U is Nintendo's successor to the Wii. It is to be released by the end of 2012 (Sega has said "Spring/Summer", while a job listing from them confirms a game for "exclusively for next generation platforms" in late 2012. Nintendo investor meeting has said plans for September in Japan and November for NA/EU while on the same day Reggie confirmed an "after-April" date for the US).

What distinguishes Wii U from Wii is that the controller itself, called the Wii U GamePad, has a 6.2 inch (15.7 cm) touch screen on it [1], and it allows players to play their video game while someone in their room watches TV. In addition, players can use both the Wii U controller and the TV itself to interact further with video games. When not playing games, it can even function as a TV remote control through the press of a button.

Wii U will be backward compatible with other Wii controllers and accessories and Wii games, but not Game Cube games (though such have been confirmed for the Virtual Console). The controller itself can actually stream video chat, and can even be used to share videos and other media. The controller will also support near field communication (NFC) common in mobile devices, allowing for wireless interaction with figurines and cards as well as microtransactions with credit cards that utilize NFC support (incidentally, Nintendo originally planned on the Wii having such a touch screen controller, but they instead went with motion controls while saving the touch screen for the Wii U).

The Wii U is believed to have a larger amount of flash memory -- at least 8 GB compared to the 512 MB on the Wii. In addition to using SD cards, a hard drive can be connected via one of the four USB ports. The Nintendo-proprietary game discs themselves are believed to contain at least 25 GB of memory [2].

The Wii U is more powerful than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 [3], and will feature HD compatibility equating to a resolution of 1080p (Actual resolution. The 360 upscales 720p), though it should be pointed out that any and all footage shown of the Wii U during E3 2011 (except that of the tech demos and Killer Freaks From Outer Space) was actually footage taken from 360 and PlayStation 3 games. According to Shigeru Miyamoto, he cannot say for sure if the hardware will outperform the PlayStation 3 and 360; though Electronic Arts, Crytek, and Gearbox Software have confirmed the final developers' kit easily can. There are also rumors that the system will have at least 1 GB of RAM -- almost twice as much as the Xbox 360 (512 MB), almost 4 times that of the PS3 (256 MB), and almost eight times the amount of the Wii (64 MB).

Nintendo claims pricing will be competitive with the 360 and PS3 at release, though also warns it won't be "cheap".

Nintendo has also announced plans to bring their online efforts up to par with their competitors, calling this revamped network the Nintendo Network, which will also eventually encompass the Nintendo 3DS. This new online setup will, instead of forcing developers to adhere to a unified online variant, allow developers to create their own setup. Nintendo themselves will go with an individual account system, which will make management of different users easier. Plus, the cumbersome friend codes will be a thing of the past.

There will also be a new user interface/social network called the Miiverse, which will be the main menu for the system. Miiverse shows your personal Mii; any Miis on the system; Miis of your friends; and crucially, Miis of other people playing games you own. The Miiverse even lets you see what friends are doing, even if you don't have the same games as them. Through the GamePad, the player will be able to communicate with any of these Miis via messaging, screenshots, or simple doodles. This also expands to otherwise single-player or offline-only multiplayer games, and the messaging aspect itself will be cross-platform -- Nintendo plan to integrate Miiverse into the 3DS, and will also release Miiverse applications for PCs and smartphones. Similarly to the 3DS, Miiverse will be able to be brought up at any time during gameplay, with gameplay itself suspended.

There are a few problems, though. Even though the Wii U supports two simultaneous Game Pads, they are so expensive that Nintendo will be focusing on single-controller possibilities for the time being. All currently-displayed multiplayer games give one player a GamePad and the rest Wii controllers (or the Wii U Pro Controller). Also, as with the previous two Nintendo systems, it does not support DVD or Blu-Ray playback, but Nintendo is working with companies such as YouTube and Hulu to provide video content.

The console has gained much attention and praise from a few "hardcore" developers for its graphics and interesting controller mechanics. The makers of some high-end Game Engines have pledged support for it, namely, Unreal Engine 3 from Epic, CryEngine 3 from Crytek, and hinted support for Frostbite Engine 2.0 from EA. Nintendo has stated that they will focus on core gamers first this time around.


Games:

Notes

  1. along with dual speakers, a microphone, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, rumble, an inward-facing camera, and the kitchen sink
  2. The same size as a single-layer Blu-ray disc used by the PlayStation 3
  3. It will be powered by an IBM POWER7 multicore microprocessor, which was developed based on the technology used in their supercomputer Watson, as well as a custom-designed AMD Radeon GPU based on the Radeon HD 4770
  4. Will be available at launch.
  5. Will be available at launch, possibly as a pack-in title.
  6. Will be available at launch.
  7. The game will release alongside a 3DS version with connectivity between the two.
  8. Will be available at launch.
  9. A Retool of Killer Freaks From Outer Space. Will be available at launch.
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