By JAMES DAWSON
When it released the Wii in 2006, Nintendo made a drastic shift in marketing with the introduction of the Wii Remote and its focus on motion control over more traditional methods.
Motion control won Nintendo the casual gaming market, with the Wii outselling both its competitors, Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360. However, with the focus on more user-friendly experiences like “Wii Sports” and a recent lull in worthwhile releases, the Wii’s reception among the gaming community has been less than ideal.
Nonetheless, Nintendo hopes to fix their reputation among gamers with the release of the Wii U. Released in the U.S. on Nov. 18, the Wii U represents Nintendo’s entry into the world of high-definition gaming. In fact, the Wii U is the first video game console to come packaged with an HDMI cable.
However, aside from the fact that the Wii U is capable of outputting high-definition graphics that are on par with or superior to its competitors, it also comes with a neat device known as the Wii U GamePad.
The GamePad is the system’s primary controller. However, in addition to the typical buttons and dual analog controls, the GamePad also comes packed with a 6.2 inch touchscreen. In fact, it’s entirely possible to play the Wii U without ever plugging it up to a television.
Therein lies one of the system’s greatest features, multitasking. One can easily play games like “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” entirely on the GamePad’s display, while simultaneously using their television to watch and/or listen to their favorite show.
Of course, not every game on the system offers this functionality, as Nintendo has left the option open to developers rather than making it mandatory. The games that do offer this ability perform flawlessly on the GamePad, despite the fact that they are being streamed wirelessly from the console itself. As an added bonus, the GamePad also functions as a remote control for the television.
Yet, the GamePad does have one unfortunate flaw: battery life. According to Nintendo, the controller can last from three to five hours depending on the display’s brightness setting. However, it can still be used while charging via the included AC adapter.
While the Wii U only comes with the GamePad, regardless of whether you buy the Basic or Deluxe version, many games also support Wii Remotes, as well as other Wii accessories. Not to mention, the Wii U is retroactively compatible with all Wii games. Additionally, Nintendo released an Xbox 360-like controller called the Wii U Controller Pro, though it will set you back $50.
With the system’s unique controller aside, Nintendo has also put quite a bit of effort into the system’s online functionality. Unlike the Wii, which requires users to enter 16-digit numerical codes in order to add friends, users can now add friends by simply searching for a user’s Nintendo Network ID and sending a request.
As of now, the Wii U is brimming with potential. However, potential means little if the system follows its predecessor and doesn’t garner a strong third-party support for its game library. That’s something only time can tell. Nintendo fans should be happy, though, as the Wii U more than guarantees the release of high-definition versions of everyone’s favorite Nintendo franchises in the near future.