The next generation starts here. James Batchelor provides everything you need to know about Nintendo Wii U
THE TECHY BIT
For those who understand such things, the Wii U console houses:
- IBM Power Architecture-based multi-core processor
- AMD Radeon High Definition GPU
- 2GB of RAM: 1GB for games, and another for system software
- 8GB (Basic) or 32GB (Premium) internal flash memory
- Slot-loading optical disc drive, which takes Wii games and Wii U's proprietary high-density optical discs
- SD memory card slot
- Four USB 2.0 ports: two at the front and two at the rear
- Sensor Bar power port
- AV Multi Out port, supporting composite, YPBPR, component, and RGB SCART connections
- HDMI 1.4 out port supporting stereoscopic 3D images
The GamePad is central to Wii U's offering: a tablet-style controller with a touch-screen, motion sensors, full range of buttons and more. Here's ten reasons to be excited about its arrival:
- It has a 6.2-inch touch-screen, which can be used to control in-game actions, access items, browse menus, mark map waypoints and more.
- If someone is using the TV, a press of a button puts the gameplay on the GamePad screen. Never again will X Factor stand between you and that perfect score.
- The front-facing camera can be used for video chat and various games. For example, Tank! Tank! Tank! puts your face above your vehicle or on the head of a giant robot.
- A built-in microphone is situated just below the screen, which can be used for in-game chat.
- The GamePad has its own set of stereo speakers. The volume can be adjusted via the slider on the back, or users can plug in a pair of headphones.
- Motion-controlled games can be played thanks to the built-in three-axis accelerometer, a three-axis gyroscope and a geomagnetic sensor.
- Amongst all those motion sensors, there is also a rumble motor.
- The GamePad connects to the Wii U wirelessly and even supports near field communication, the technology behind titles like Skylanders.
- Core gamers will be pleased to know there is a full complement of face buttons, triggers and shoulder buttons, as well as two clickable analogue sticks.
- Wii U will support up to two GamePads.
Wii U is the first high-definition console from Nintendo, and the first to launch with multiple SKUs. A white Basic console will target casual players and comes with 8GB of memory, while the core-focused black Premium model has 32GB. Need more? You can use SD cards or USB hard drives. The Premium model will be available in two bundles on November 30th: one with NintendoLand, the other with Ubisoft's ZombiU and a Pro Controller.
Using the GamePad isn't the only way to play Wii U. Nintendo has created a new Pro Controller (below) that is more akin to traditional joypads, forgoing touch-screens and motion sensors in favour of standard control sticks, buttons and triggers. Wii U is also compatible with devices made for its predecessor, including the Wii Remote, Nunchuk and Wii Balance Board. In fact, the console is even backwards compatible with most Wii games, which should help appeal to those with an established library of titles. So be sure to stock up on top Wii titles, too.
Nintendo is taking online gaming much more seriously this generation, with plenty of ways to connect to other Wii U owners through the new console. The device will make use of Nintendo's growing unified network, entitled Nintendo Network. This will cater for everything from online multiplayer to downloads and chat. An eShop will give players access to new digital titles such as Trine 2: Director's Cut and Toki Tori 2, as well as Virtual Console retro games, DLC and full download versions of retail games. The Wii U will also have a built-in social network called Miiverse, where users' Miis exchange video and text messages, compare achievements and so forth. This can even be integrated into retail games. For example, New Super Mario Bros U's map screens will display comments and tips from other Wii U owners besides each level.