When the 7th generation of consoles officially emerged in 2005, nearly everyone assumed that Nintendo’s Wii would end up holding the “short end of the stick”. The Wii didn’t (and still doesn’t) carry the extremely large variety of violent action-oriented titles that both the PS3 and Xbox 360 did, and of course, it wasn’t quite as “high-powered” as either of those two consoles either.
But none of the aforementioned factors prevented the Wii from outselling either competitor; in fact, the original Wii has shipped an astounding 52.6 million units worldwide vs. 31.5 million 360’s and 23.8 million PS3’s. In short, it seems that Nintendo’s strategy of focusing on such things as user-enhanced gameplay through controller technology has paid off in spades (also forcing both Microsoft and Sony to develop their own versions of motion controller technology like the Kinect and Playstation Move).
What new features does the Wii U possess you ask? For starters, there’s the promise of enhanced graphics, which many devoted Nintendo users had been calling for ever since the release of the first Wii design. Simply put, the Wii U puts Nintendo’s flagship console (at least) on par with both the 360 and PS3.
Graphics aside, the main reason most people are attracted to the Wii U has to do with the addition of GamePad controller. This unique controller isn’t just a flashy screen with joysticks and buttons tacked on; it’s actually much, much more than that. The GamePad features 6.2-inch LCD touchscreen which can also be used in tandem with a stylus pen. Likewise, there is also a front-facing camera (for use with games that integrate user images into them) as well as a microphone.
The GamePad is also a bona-fide motion controller, meaning that it can be used in exactly the same manner as the original Wii nun chuck / controller mélange. But the fun doesn’t end there, it also incorporates stereo speakers, a sensor bar, and rumble features. If all this weren’t enough to whet one’s palette, there is also support for NFC, or near-field communications; meaning, the GamePad can interface with other devices!
Moreover, there are multiple ways that gamers can approach the Wii U, for example, you can:
- Use the Wii U and GamePad viewing screen in tandem with each other. This lends the benefit of being able to open up maps on the smaller screen and so forth, greatly enhancing immersion in the game environment.
- Use the touchscreen as a control surface / device for the action on your TV. For titles that feature precision movements, the use of a touchscreen is ideal.
- Use the GamePad as a Motion Controller.
- Use the integrated stylus to direct the action on your TV. Once again, certain types of games lend themselves better to alternative control schemes.
- Use the NFC capabilities of the GamePad to connect up to 4 additional (conventional) Wii controllers for 5 person action.
- Use a traditional controller in tandem with the GamePad. This allows you to further enhance your perspective in certain games, relegating the GamePad to other duties while you control the on-screen action with the original control system.
- Use the GamePad as the sole viewing device. Given the popularity of hand-held consoles (they outsold all the major consoles by a wide margin), it only makes sense that some gamers might find it enjoyable to experience their Wii U through the handheld view screen alone. Also, those who enjoy late-night gaming and don’t want to disturb others will find this option to be extremely gratifying.
In summation, Nintendo’s Wii U console delivers the goods on multiple fronts and is clearly a step up from its forerunner. Nearly every aspect of the original Wii has been improved upon and enough new features have been added (along with notable graphical enhancements) to make this console a must-buy for both Nintendo fanatics as well as video gamers in general. Highly recommended!