Need to know – Nintendo Wii U

It’s the maddest box of tricks ever to breach the city walls of Gamesville. But what secrets is Ninty’s new console hiding?

What’s in a name?

Developed under the codename Project Café, the smart money said Nintendo’s Wii successor would be called Wii 2. No one guessed it would be called Wii U, which – according to Ninty – is something to do with ‘you’. Or ‘unity’. Or ‘unifying’. Or ‘utopian’. Alright, Nintendo, we’ve got our own dictionary, thanks.

Box clever

The console looks like a fat Wii. But you won’t be chanting, “Who ate all the pies” for fear it’ll outwit you. There’s little known about the actual guts of the machine, but we do know it’ll be busting out HD graphics of the sort PlayStation and Xbox 360 have been doing for years. It’s got a front-loading disc slot, SD card and USB ports and an internal SSD.

Bending backwards

The Wii spawned a volley of accessories – Balance Boards, uDraw tablets, steering wheels, guns and golf clubs – and they’ll all work with the Wii U, too. Better still, you won’t need to bin the Wii shelf of your gaming bookcase; Wii U will spin all your old Wii games, too. Industry parlance calls it backwards compatible. We call it good news.

Set the controls

Imagine Fisher-Price making a white iPad. That’s the Wii U controller for you. Nintendo has turned the gaming world on its head with the Wii U tablet – it’s got a 6.2in touchscreen, motion sensors, a stylus and a mass of buttons and triggers. There’s also a front-facing camera. It’s like someone ironed an oversized DS.

Now you see it

The controller screen can be used as a secondary display, or you can free up your TV and use the controller’s glass in lieu of a separate display. Nintendo’s keen to point out that it isn’t a portable console. You’ll still need the processing grunt of the master unit to play games.

Big catalogue

One of the major criticisms of Nintendo in recent years has been its insistence on holding on to much-loved, but slightly outdated gameplay. Mario’s all well and good, but you can’t have him marching into Fallujah and decapping some terrorists with an RPG. Mercifully, Ninty’s got the message and is bigging up new partnerships that’ll see us playing the likes of DiRT, Ghost Recon, Tekken, Ninja Gaiden and Assassin’s Creed. Sweet.

Those who wait

There’s no word on price yet, nor an exact launch date. Nintendo says we’ll see the hardware going on sale in 2012. That may seem a lifetime away, and it’ll probably feel like it, but we’re hoping our savings will be splurged for a good cause by next year’s E3. Worst case scenario: it’s released for the 2012 “holiday” season (next Christmas, to you). Actually, worst case scenario is that it gets delayed or – whisper it – cancelled. But we’re not even going to think about that.

Nintendo Wii U announced

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