Before the Nintendo Wii’s release in 2006, few people would have predicted the new motion-controlled console would manage to entice the masses like it did.
Nintendo is hoping to capture lightning in a bottle once again with a new console called the Wii U, which will be released in 2012.
On June 7, Nintendo revealed the console to the public for the first time during their press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.
Since the press conference, new details about the Wii U have been scarce, but Nintendo did not leave the show without talking about the new system’s capabilities, and more importantly, the new control scheme.
While Nintendo has talked about the new hardware inside the console, the majority of the information has been about the new controller coming with the system.
According to Nintendo.com, the new controller will have traditional button controls along with two analog sticks similar to other controllers on different systems, but the similarities end there. The controller will also have a 6.2-inch touch screen in the middle, a built-in accelerometer, a camera, a microphone, a sensor strip, a gyroscope and stereo speakers.
According to a press release from Nintendo, “adding a second screen to the living room creates a multitude of new video game experiences while offering families a variety of options to customize their entertainment.”
The touch screen on the controller will have many different uses. One of those uses will be the ability to play a game while watching something else on TV. Players can switch between using the TV and the screen on their controller to play a game, making it easier to keep playing when someone else wants to watch TV.
The touch screen will also be able to display things that won’t appear on the TV screen, meaning players may have to do something like scan the TV with their controller to find something that they wouldn’t be able to see just by looking at the TV.
The new console will support up to 1080p HD resolution and will be backwards compatible with all Wii games and Wii accessories. On top of having the new controller, up to four Wii Remotes can also be connected to the system.
The Wii U press release from Nintendo states, “The Wii console has sold more than 86 million units globally and greatly expanded the overall audience for video games. Wii U aims to expand that audience even further.”
Between the press release and the backwards compatibility of the Wii U, it is quite clear Nintendo hopes the massive number of current Wii owners will switch to the new system once it releases.
Nintendo will have to satisfy people like Elizabeth Thompson if the Wii U is going to reach the same levels of success as the Wii.
Thompson, a Flint senior, said she received her Wii as a Christmas present in 2010. Thompson’s initial interest in the Wii was sparked by seeing games that had an active component to them, as opposed to traditional Nintendo titles like “Super Mario Bros.” or “The Legend of Zelda.”
“I saw ads for ‘Just Dance 2′ and I also wanted to get ‘Wii Fit,’” Thompson said.
However, Thompson said she rarely uses her Wii to play video games anymore, even for games like “Just Dance 2.”
“I use it for Netflix almost every day,” Thompson said.
Thompson also said the available features would play a huge part in her decision to buy a Wii U or not. She said being able to use Facebook from her console would be a feature that would interest her.
“It would have to be something that could be used for everything,” Thompson said.
Not only will Nintendo have to satisfy “casual gamers” like Thompson, but they will have to satisfy “hardcore gamers” like JD Drain.
Drain, a Southfield junior, has owned a Wii for three years, and much like Thompson, he doesn’t get much use out of it.
“It appealed more to my sister than me,” he said.
Drain, who is more of a traditional gamer, said he hasn’t touched the Wii in at least a year.
When he was playing the Wii on a regular basis, he was playing games like “Mario Kart Wii” or “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” Drain also owns an Xbox 360, which he said gets used much more.
“It felt like the 360 games were geared more towards me,” Drain said. “The Wii is something that is more for the whole family.”
Drain said he would not completely rule out the possibility of eventually buying the Wii U, but said it would have to appeal more toward the main demographic of gamers, as opposed to focusing so much on the mainstream consumer.
The main things Drain said he would be looking for in the Wii U are better games with better graphics, but is not sure if that would even be enough to keep him from just waiting for the next Xbox.
The Nintendo Wii U will be released at an unknown price sometime after April 2012.