Wii U –– it sounds like a university for gaming geeks! Alas, it's just the regular old next-generation video game system from Nintendo, which was unveiled last week at the E3 conference. The Wii U is a very odd beast, to say the least. It essentially operates on two screens, the first screen being your television, and the second being the touchscreen on the motion-sensing controller.
In fact, it's best to think of the Wii U as a gigantic version of the DS, which also used two screens to enhance the gaming experience. For the most part, Nintendo has remained pretty mum on the innards of the Wii U, as well as the list of launch titles, although we do know the launch date itself will be sometime next year. Here's another thing we know for sure: The Wii U won't play DVDs or Blu-Ray discs.
In a Q and A posted to the Nintendo site, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata explains some of his rationale: "The reason for that is that we feel that enough people already have devices that are capable of playing DVDs and Blu-ray, such that it didn't warrant the cost involved to build that functionality into the Wii U console because of the patents related to those technologies," Iwata writes.
Well, maybe, although we're inclined to think that a lot of people expect a DVD player to be included in their gaming system, especially in 2011.
Anyway, on to more important stuff. Like how the Wii U handles! Well, Matthew Castle of Tech Radar got his paws on an early demo of the Wii U and he reports that the plastic controls are a bit disappointing –– "the absence of analogue triggers (they are buttons) will upset third party developers used to 360/PS3 pads" –– but the motion controls work a treat, and the touchscreen display on the controller is colorful, bright, and vivid.
(Caveat: Nintendo says the current Wii U hardware is not set in stone.)
"Pumping such a tiny screen with visuals intended to fill 42-inch flatscreens obviously helps disguise a low resolution," Castle writes. "Some may find a single-touch screen a tad archaic in the modern iWorld, but this is Nintendo sticking in their DS comfort zone. Having taught 146 million users to handle a stylus, they're not going to back out on plastic prongs anytime soon."