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Nintendo Unveils Wii U, Controller With Built-In 6.2" Touchscreen
Nintendo Unveils Wii U, Controller With Built-In 6.2" Touchscreen
June 7, 2011 | By Eric Caoili




Nintendo revealed the name and controller for its new system, Wii U, which features HD graphics and a built-in 6.2" touchscreen, and is meant to offer "a new structure for home entertainment".

"Up until now, home console games had to occupy the TV screen in order to be played," said Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata at the company's E3 presentation today.

"But the new controller for Wii U with its 6.2" screen built-in means you don't have to give up your gameplay when someone else comes in the room and wants to watch a TV program."

The executive noted that Wii U is backward compatibile, allowing users to play it with all Wii games, Wii Remote controllers, and accessories such as its Balance Board.

In addition to its touchscreen, Wii U's tablet-inspired controller features motion controls and an in-ward facing camera -- which was demonstrated with a FaceTime-style video chat session between two users.

Differentiating the controller from its other line of touchscreen devices, Iwata made sure to emphasize that it is "not designed to be a portable video game system even though it shares some characteristics."

Deeper Gaming Experiences

Nintendo shared a montage of potential uses for Wii U, showing users moving a game from their TV screen to the controller's screen, playing games on a TV while using touchscreen elements, and playing a board game on just the touchscreen, iPad-style.

The platform holder showed off several game prototypes -- including New Super Mario Bros. Mii -- and several third-party titles in the works for the platform, including Travellers Tales' Lego City Stories, which will be coming exclusively to Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS.

It showed off prototypes for Wii U like a Pac-Man Vs.-style multiplayer game called Chase Mii, Shield Pose (block incoming arrows by using the controller as a shield), and a space shooter demo, too.

Projects targeting core gamers were shown, too, such as Darksiders II, Tekken Wii Succession, Batman: Arkham City, Assassin's Creed, Ghost Recon Online, DIRT, Metro: Last Light, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, and Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Iwata also mentioned that Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai will be bringing a new entry in the series to Wii U and the 3DS after he finishes work on the 3DS version of Kid Icarus.

Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello also took the stage as a sign of a "deeper relationship" with Nintendo, promising that Wii U will "speak directly to the players of EA Sports and EA games." He also said the new system will feature "HD graphics."

"Imagine a shooter like Battlefield with jaw-dropping graphics and smooth character animations of the Frostbite engine brought to you on a Nintendo system with that braeakthrough controller," said Riccitiello.

Iwata explained Nintendo's plan for Wii U: "We stated a goal of expanding the gaming population and today we've seen changes of who play, where we play, and most importantly how we play."

"The boundary that once divided gamers by age group, personality, or even gender are starting to be erased. But mental boundaries still exist in how game systems are defined."

He added, "The new platform will provide you with deeper game experiences than what even the most passionate gamer has realized before and it will offer wider appeal to gamers, wider even then for Wii... It will let everyone see games in a different way."

Classic Controller With A Screen

In an Iwata Asks interview published after Nintendo's press conference, Iwata explained the genesis of Wii U: "Lately, the television in the household is being used for more purposes than ever. The internal system has become more complicated, and it has become something very big and bulky where it's taking much longer to turn on."

The company's chief continued, "The Wii console did have the blue illumination lamp to notify new messages, but the amount of information a lamp could get across was limited… It was only able to say whether there was new information or not, so it had limits on what it could do."

Nintendo's game director Shigeru Miyamoto commented, "So, we started from the notion of 'It would be nice if there was a small monitor of sorts other than the TV, where we could always see the status of the Wii console.'"

"In a way, it's a Classic Controller with a screen," remarked Iwata.

Miyamoto went on to point out the popularity of karaoke of Japan, and its similarity to Wii U: "It comes with a remote control, and on the larger screen (TV) it displays the information of the song that's currently playing, and the person who's up next is selecting the song on the screen of the remote. I think the same function exists with the new controller."

Iwata added, "There were things that weren't suited to do on video games [with Wii]… Like when trying to enter text on Wii, even though we placed a lot of effort into it, I do not think we ever reached a point where we could proudly say that it was a stress-free experience. But this time, I feel that will change greatly."


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Comments


Doug Poston
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Wii-DS :)



I'll hold off on judgement until I see specs and price.

E Zachary Knight
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The system does look pretty cool and I can see a whole lot of possibility with this new set up. Cost does have me concerned when it comes time to buy a second one of those controllers, but hopefully it will not be too much. We probably won't see costs until next year though.



The game line up they announced was quite amazing. Not just for the Wii U but also for the 3DS.

Jerry Pritchard
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All we'll get is rehashed Mario/Zelda/DonkeyKong/Metroid/Starfox titles. Nintendo has forgotten how to innovate making actual GAMES, not just hardware.

Aaron Truehitt
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Nah they just don't have time for internal software developement anymore.

A W
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It would seem that the internal development has slowed, or they are looking at the market they have helped to make and are trying to find ways to target it appropriately. I was not as excited by the re-mastered properties they announced (well the Zelda's interest me the most as they have kept me in the game for the longest time) But I do see them growing from the rest of the market. I see Nintendo as not being interested in graphic fidelity as much as they are in new ways of creating UI. I think this system if easy to cross develop for, is an attempt for them to push into a space they neglected in favor of researching new areas.



I think the failure of the Pacman game for the GCN plays into the thinking for the development of this system, in a positive way. It seems to go back to that first idea.

kevin Koos
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The controller looks way to huge. I have my own 50 TV for gaming so I don't see any point in playing a game on a 6 inch screen. Early so lot more to come but so far not waht I was hoping for.

A W
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You can play your game on both the HD screen and / or the controller, some simultaneously. I would even imagine that a LAN game could take place in which every person has their own screen. I would like to hear the impressions, but I would gather the build are probably all tech demos.

Jonathan Gilmore
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I don't think ergonomics/comfort can be ignored. I think that was an issue people had with the N64 and the Gamecube, and part of why neither reached the levels of SNES/NES/Wii. Admitedly the system is intriguing for its novelty, I'm not sure what to make of it at this point, other than to say it doesn't look like something I would want to hold as a controller.

A W
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OK. you win the controller argument... I guess.



FTA"The executive noted that Wii U is backward compatible, allowing users to play it with all Wii games, Wii Remote controllers, and accessories such as its Balance Board."

Bob Johnson
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YOu mean huge like in iPad-sized? It's smaller than that so I don't think it's a problem.



And they showed the point of playing on the 6-inch screen. If game 3 of the NBA finals is about to start while you're playing a game you can switch to playing on the 6" screen and turn on the game on your big screen tv.



For families this is even more likely a source of conflict. And being able to let the kids continue a game on the controller if Mom or DAd or other brother wants to watch a program would be a welcome feature.

Daniel Gooding
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I played the game gear back in the day for hours. If you had the plug in power pack then it weighed a ton. I"m positive it won't weigh as much as that did, and the idea of playing a next gen game like darksiders 2 in my bed right next to me sounds plenty awesome to me.

Amy Austin
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I'm going to go out on a limb and say the average gamer doesn't have a 50 inch TV dedicated for gaming. You, I'm taking an educated guess, are an exception, not the rule.

A W
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He is the rule Amy, I have a 46", but I rarely use it for gaming because of its location. It a family TV... OH Wait... I guess that's one thing Nintendo was talking about in their presentation of the Wii U. Put it in the family room. A member wants to use the 46" for something else, you got a screen to keep gaming from. Damn, that was brilliant!

A W
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This system looks like it crossing many things into one. It's confusing core gamers because of the way we are made to think. Hardware that plays Software connected to a TV. It looks like Nintendo first broke the controller, now they are breaking the screen. It's like they have Wii then the Wii U. The Wii U may be able to stand alone, but its not made that way.



I can't even explain in accurate terms what I just witnessed, but it looks like every kind of gamer gets what they want, board games, Argument games, HD games, Pixel games, Old games, New games, Motion games, Traditional games; and if the thing has a browser, Internet games. It seems to include the creative minded too.



I mean EA show a picture of BF3... They had Arkham City City. Looked like Ninja Gadien was running on it in HD glory. And I'm not even going to talk about that Zelda snapshot with all that detail... So well The augment is dead about the hardcore now it seems.

Joseph North
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So it happens, the inevitable transition between Nintendo's portable and home console.



They are slowly combining their portable and home markets to one.

Ian Richard
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I'm actually impressed.



It looks like they were trying to cover as many games styles as they could. They have everything from core games to a demonstration of Go that you can play on a tabletop. I am excited to see a system that is covering more than online shooters.



I've always enjoyed new experiences and I think this system just may fill many of my gaming needs.



I am a bit worried that the controller will be too bulky for many games or that the features will end up as gimmicks... but for now I'm eager to learn more..

Amy Austin
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If features turn out to be gimmicks, that's more the fault of the developer than it is the hardware. What I saw this afternoon offered tons of possibilities, more than I'm sure I could think up. Gimmicks will be due to the designer's lack of vision, not the capabilities of the hardware

Justin LeGrande
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I was actually hoping for some kind of Power Glove revival with the new system. Just something with more natural haptic recognition and ergonomics than...a tablet. Something that even someone with a crippling disability might be able to use. I guess we're not ready for that yet...



On the bright side, this gives a chance for a new lease on life for key Wii peripherals that have been woefully underutilized, especially the MotionPlus and Balance Board. Add in the Vitality Sensor with the Wii U, and you have a myriad of interesting possible uses within a portable home console. But just like the 3DS, speculations are more interesting than any actual products at the moment.

Doug Poston
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"I love the Power Glove. It's so bad." - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098663/quotes



Sorry, couldn't resist. :)





But I think that a touch pad would be easier for most people with disabilities to use then a Power Glove.

Michael Compton
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As long as the new control is kept light enough I think it might work, it has all the ingredients that have served the game control well over many years of home consoles, and the motion stuff. But if it's as heavy as the size implies then fatigue could set in very quickly which would be disastrous for the console.

Ting Chow
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Kotaku did a hands-on review of the controller. It looks absolutely massive, but they also said that the controller seems to be pretty light.



http://kotaku.com/5809519/take-a-tour-of-the-amazing-wii-u-contro
ller-in-our-hands

Justin LeGrande
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Nintendo has really picked an opportune time to snub Apple by creating a familiar-looking tablet controller, while keeping buttons. It could appeal to a tablet-tech fascinated public, while still being a pseudo-traditional controller. It will probably be far cheaper than an Ipad1. As long as the WiiU controller is less than 1.5 lb's (700 grams), it should feel comparable to holding an Ipad2.

Christian Kulenkampff
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I am very curious about how many new controllers can connect to the Wii U.

If it supports multiple Mini-Screen-Controllers there are indeed wonderful possibilities. A private screen for each player is a revolution for living room gaming. Crazy electronic card, board and party games... Wii U could work as an "instant LAN Party" device...

Justin LeGrande
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In the tech demo Chase Mii, 4 Wii Remotes and 1 WiiU tablet were connected. I'm guessing 4 remotes and 4 tablets at once, tops. Most games would probably only use 1 or 2 tablets.



The WiiU tablet seems like one possible solution to circumventing common local multiplayer problems due to a "meddling GUI". Also, I think the local and internet combo connection could be a critical component of multiplayer games. Even if the user does not have an internet connection in their home, they could just visit a public WiFi hotspot. Just maybe...the RTS and "god game" genres might finally have a chance at prosperity on consoles.

Christian Kulenkampff
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This would be so great. RTS: TV would work as a common view on a special battle area (king of the hill/TV). Sport games would use the TV for real TV show like coverage of the game. Customizable Card Games mixed with other genres like Beat ’em up or Strategy on the couch with friends. And much more...

Jason Kawal
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I always appreciate Nintendo going in unexpected directions with their technology, and I really like the backwards compatibility with Wii games. But I wonder how well this controller will work with Wii games that are so tightly integrated with the Wii-remote control scheme, such as Mario Galaxy or No More Heroes. It seems like those would require a serious effort to make those schemes workable with this device.

Eric Geer
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This excites me. It's just what we need in our house--a place for where I can play games and my wife can watch TV---not to mention the interesting tech ideas and high tech graphics...and I like to see that there are so many great 3rd parties on board.



I like what they have done with the touch pad---it will be a great place to play some of those old strategy games(chess/backgammon/mancala) without all the boards and boxes.

Mark Harris
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I just play on my laptop or DS or whatever when I'm sitting next to my wife while she's watching TV. Nothing ultra revolutionary here.



What IS new is being able to continue a game session on the same console when the TV is being used for something. Whether the 50" experience is satisfying on a 6" screen has yet to be seen, though.

A W
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Well I'm not saying that the Wii u screen is 1080p HD, but arn't iPad and laptops at least at 720p HD?

Kevin Patterson
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Until I get my hand on one of the controllers, i can't really say if I'll like it or not.

It seems cool, but big, and those thumbsticks don't look like a controller id want for an intensive FPS.



I have always thought a 2nd monitor/TV would be a cool idea for a console. I loved Surpreme commanders use of it. This seems like a controller version of that style gameplay, could be very cool.

I'm glad i didn't buy a Wii, i don't know if I'd want the new console after getting one. Most of my friends own one and never play theirs except in parties, etc. I'd be hesitant to do it again.

Admittedly i was hoping for some specs, but they haven't released any yet.



With MS announcing Halo 4 for 2012, it looks like Halo 5 would be on the next console, so no Halo 5 till 2014. I was thinking MS would release a new console in 2013, maybe not, no Halo at launch. (unless they release a upscale graphic version for the new console, doubt that would happen)

Alex Leighton
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I'm excited by the possibilities of this for sure.. If they release a good poker game with the tablets showing everyone's cards, it will get alot of play at my place during the summer.



They need to really get a good roster of games out though, because I doubt the same people who bought the Wii are going to buy this. They've moved on to Facebook games, they're not going to buy another console that the kids play with for a couple of weeks and never turn on again. Nintendo needs to get hard/mid/softcore gamers buying this, not just people who saw it on tv and thought it was neat.

Evan Bell
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2 questions: how much will an extra controller cost and does it take AA batteries? I hope it has an rechargeable LION battery like the 6 axis. I also agree that it looks rather large. Almost as big as the original xbox controller:)

E Zachary Knight
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It has rechargeable batteries. Full specs are listed on their site



http://e3.nintendo.com/hw/#/about

Adam Bishop
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I was wrong about the DS (I thought it would be lousy) and the Wii (I thought it would be great) so I'm going to reserve judgement on this until there are some finished games available. But what I've seen so far definitely intrigues me. The possibilities that it seems to present for same-room co-op (which is still the primary way I play games with others) are enticing. I have no idea what the future will hold as far as innovations for this device, but I am really hoping we get a new Okami game on the Wii U, because that controller looks perfect for it.

Wylie Garvin
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Oh god yes. As I said to a co-worker earlier today, I haven't seen anything yet that would make me buy a Wii-U, but if they publish a version of Okami on it I will definitely buy one to be able to play that.



I love the PS2 version of that game, and bought the Wii version to thank them for porting it, but I found the wiimote control difficult for it. But this touchscreen thing would be perfect for it.

Daniel Gooding
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This console will sell like hotcakes in the military. Usually bearthings only have one t.v. which is usually in an awkward place, so this kinda thing would be awesome.



I can just see it now, all my old buddies playing a lan game of COD all around the bearthing having a good time.

Wish this thing was around while I was in the military. I remember people buying portable screens for their playstation 2's then they would take up two electrical sockets, and a fight would break out over sharing electricity.



It's the revamping of same room multiplayer games : )





Think this thing could support up to 16 player matches??

DanielThomas MacInnes
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My blog post from April: http://tinyurl.com/3osy967



My opinion hasn't really changed, but I will admit that I'm feeling slightly confused as well as frustrated with Nintendo. This was a far more bare-bones demonstration than I expected, and a bit surprising if this console is going to launch in Japan in 9 months. I'll still wager money that Nintendo could rush out a Christmas launch if 3DS sales continue to stagnate through the year.



Sony is hobbling along after a string of hacker attacks, Microsoft is giving their hardcore fans the finger with bad Kinect games and (sigh) yet another wave of shooters, and Nintendo has just gone stark raving mad. I've never seen an industry disintegrate quite like this. Very interesting.

Jorge Hebrard
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Well, I guess that lot of broken TVs because of Wii Controllers teach Nintendo a lesson.

Richard Vaught
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You know, I am not generally one to jump on band wagons for gaming consoles, but this one does have me intrigued somewhat. When I am at home, I am constantly having to share my gaming time with other people's desire to watch movies or television, so the screen is a neat solution to a problem that has irritated me for years. I am not a fan of the bulky controller, though I see that as an easy problem with a simple solution: Sell a cheaper controller that does not contain a screen. Of course, this and other articles do mention the backwards compatibility with other with the Wii, so there is a good chance that your old controllers will work, leaving you only having to use the screen when the game requires it specifically, or when your television is otherwise occupied. The fact that it is backwards compatible means that there will already be a collection of games that do not require the tablet controller as well, so you are not relegated to having to use it all the time and retailers do not need to scrap the old Wii titles at rock bottom prices. I would think this should make devs happy as it gives them more shelf time on old titles. Since the backwards compatibility is being pushed as a big feature(something that both the 360 and the PS3 should have done) I think that existing Wii owners will also be more likely to upgrade provided that the price is right. I also think that this will add some interesting choices and challenges to the designers. I can see there being a boom in indie games on the Wii U comparable to what we have seen on the Android/Iphone platforms, and quite possibly a ton of ports from those platforms. It will be interesting to see how Nintendo handles these possibilities. Overall, I think they have have a fairly solid idea here, and I am looking forward to seeing how well it is implemented.


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