Nintendo's latest console is an effort to bring the company away from the nostalgia trap and into the mainstream. The Wii, while a fun way to shake up the typical console release, was a gimmicky letdown and took up residence in closets everywhere a few months after release.
The Wii U represents a new era for the company as it attempts to appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers. Pre-orders are running out quick, and your options are fairly slim if you want to pick up the console around its 11/18 release date. We got our hands on the console and here is some cool stuff that it does:
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5. The Controller The Wii U Gamepad provides functionality for both fans of the Wii's simple gameplay and enough precision to play hardcore games like Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Each console supports only one of the 6 inch gamepads, with Wiimotes and other controllers supported for mutliplayer games. The LCD screen on the controller is multifunctional, and in one instance handled inventory management for the preview we received of ZombiU.
4.The Fresh Start The $350 deluxe edition of the Wii U includes "Nintendo Land," a sampler platter of minigames that showcase the possibilities of the console. We played a minigame where one player using the Gamepad plays a ghost, and four others use Wiimotes to hunt him in a zany crossover between Pac-Man and Metal Gear Solid. The emphasis on living room social gaming is a line in the sand for Nintendo. Having improved online support for this console generation, it's also good to see the company maintaining the same support for couch multiplayer that they have over the years.
3. The Innovation
In a bid for your entertainment center, Nintendo integrated television functionality into the Wii U and titled it "Nintendo TVii." The plan is to allow parents a chance to watch their shows while the kid plays the new Mario title on the controller nearby. This cuts down on the number of TVs in the house and also gives kids the ammunition they need to hopefully end up with a new console under the tree come Christmas.
2. The Not Having to Buy Accessories
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Nintendo's modus operandi for the past 2 console generations was to release expensive peripherals for AAA a year or so after a console's release (Wii Motion Plus, card reader thing for GBA). The Wii U seems like it has the majority of stuff you're going to need for it, and the peripherals you're going to buy are probably going to be the ones available at launch.
1. It's pretty dang fun
During the hour we had to play around with it, the console seemed like a combination of modern gaming and the classic Nintendo feel. The sidescrollers are there and Mario will speak in a high-pitched voice again, but the childlike glee of tilting a controller and watching a cart move around the screen is something that'll be fun for gamers of all ages. Check it out, pick it up, or wait for a friend to do it and mooch off of them.