Wii U: Closing the gap, Opening a portal

The new Nintendo Wii U was introduced to much fanfare at the 2011 E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo).  The Wii U sports a concept new to gaming, a controller with it’s own screen.  Nintendo has basically taken it’s Wii console and DS portable system and merged the two producing a multi-faceted approach to gaming.  The Wii U will feature a controller which doubles as a small portable system which can be utilized if the TV upon which the game is being played is needed, or if an extra controller and split screen is required (over 4 players).  In some games (such as Zelda Skyward Sword) the controller screen will contain your menu screen so that you can change weapons or items, or save your game without leaving the action.  You can also use the Wii U’s new controller to play independent 2 player games such as checkers or chess right on the touchscreen!

A new controller isn’t going to help Nintendo catch up with Sony and Microsoft, it’s what’s under the hood of the console that finally closes the gap in the console wars.  For a long time now we would head for the Xbox 360 or the PS3 to play games with killer graphics. The Wii although a cool idea and fun with groups of friends lacked heavily in the graphics department.  I grew so discontent with my Wii that I converted it into a retro emulator to play NES and SNES games like Final Fantasy and Shadowgate.  I have actually wondered how many more consoles Nintendo would have sold were they willing to load their machines with all Nintendo releases from the NES to N64.

What’s under the hood?

The Wii U will feature a full HDMI with 1080p output, optical drive with proprietary discs that hold 25GB of data.  There will be a SD slot for additional memory as well as the option of an external USB drive.  There will be 4 USB slots which gets me jazzed for softmodding options.  (Wouldn’t it be nice to have 20 systems under one roof?)  A 45-nanometer multi-core IBM processor is the “heart” of the console, based on the same technology used in IBM’s Watson supercomputer. The Wii U also sports embedded DRAM that’s “capable of feeding the multi-core processor large chunks of data to make for a smooth entertainment experience”.  A 32-nanometer AMD video processor based on the company’s R700 series (used in AMD’s last-gen Radeon 4000 series PC video cards) with 1GB of video memory will allow for Nintendo to finally move into the industry standard of graphics.

Games?

The games are looking decent with a line up such as Zelda Skyward Sword, Super Mario Bros Mii, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge.  Many more games previously only available for PS3 and Xbox 360 are on the way according to Nintendo.  We should have another console capable of throwing punches with the big boys soon enough.

During the demo at E3, games such as Assassin’s Creed, Darksiders, and Metro Last Light were displayed to illustrate performance and high-quality of graphics which Nintendo later admitted were rendered on the Xbox 360 or PS3.

“Absolutely, [the footage was from PS3 and Xbox 360] because we are talking a year away from when the system is going to launch. […] In terms of how good [the games] look is going to be driven by what developers do. The system is going to be 1080p, it is going to be high-definition,”  -Reggie Fils-Aime, the president Nintendo of America, in an interview with Game Trailers web-site.

Below read the specs straight from Nintendo followed by the E3 demo video of the new Nintendo Wii U due out in 2012!

 

Wii U™

  • Launches:  2012
  • Size:  Approximately 1.8 inches tall, 6.8 inches wide and 10.5 inches long.
  • New Controller:  The new controller incorporates a 6.2-inch, 16:9 touch screen and traditional button controls, including two analog Circle Pads. This combination removes the traditional barriers between games, players and the TV by creating a second window into the video game world. The rechargeable controller includes a Power button, Home button, +Control Pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons and ZL/ZR buttons. It includes a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, rumble feature, camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, a sensor strip and a stylus.
  • Other Controls:  Up to four Wii Remote™ (or Wii Remote Plus) controllers can be connected at once. The new console supports all Wii™ controllers and input devices, including the Nunchuk™ controller, Classic Controller™, Classic Controller Pro™ and Wii Balance Board™.
  • Media:  A single self-loading media bay will play 12-centimeter proprietary high-density optical discs for the new console, as well as 12-centimeter Wii optical discs.
  • Video Output:  Supports 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p and 480i. Compatible cables include HDMI, component, S-video and composite.
  • Audio Output:  Uses AV Multi Out connector. Six-channel PCM linear output through HDMI.
  • Storage:  The console will have internal flash memory, as well as the option to expand its memory using either an SD memory card or an external USB hard disk drive.
  • CPU:  IBM Power®-based multi-core microprocessor.
  • Other:  Four USB 2.0 connector slots are included. The new console is backward compatible with Wii games and Wii accessories.

 

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.