Nintendo loyalists will tell you that the Wii still has momentum, but since 2008 you wouldn't necessarily find anyone purchasing a Wii for anything other than a Nintendo release. This is something that Nintendo hopes to change with the Wii U.
Nintendo has finally gone HD, with brand new hardware to rival and supposedly surpass the rest of the current competition - an IBM PowerPC 750-based three-core processor for its CPU, 2GB of RAM, and an AMD Radeon High Definition GPU.
Being the first of a new generation will mean that Nintendo's rivals will be able to eclipse it's current innovation with faster processing power, but the Wii U is not just about power. It's also about cool new gadgets that will send any loyal fan to the store wanting more – hence the new tablet controller.
When Nintendo first revealed the Wii U back in the middle of 2011, they rightly chose to show off the GamePad first, because it's here where most of the magic happens. Measuring 259x135x23mm, it's comfortable, lightweight, and has many uses. Switching from single player portable gaming to a 4-dimensional gaming experience allows games like Nintendo Land to show off the controller's strengths.
The console is also cost effective, having backwards compatibility with the Wii Motion and Motion + controllers, allowing over five players to join in and compete against one another.
Gameplay is fluid and manages to appease both hard core gaming fans and Nintendo loyalists. Having both third party support with releases of Arkham City, Zombie U and Sonic Racers, the Wii U has everything a well-rounded gamer would want. Only time will tell how successful it becomes overall.
Nintendo has yet to realize the full potential of their tablet controller. Only being able to use the controller for gaming and call purposes using Nintendo's own application doesn't help the company expand into other markets. By utilizing third party applications such as Skype and YouTube this would enable Nintendo to gain a grasp on a market that has only been utilized by smart phone manufacturers, thus giving them something of an edge to their competitors.
Another thing that's missing is online play, Nintendo has utilized its own online facility for shop and communication via Miiverse, but have not enabled games such as Nintendo Land to have multiplayer access which dampens the game's overall playability. Console owners who have been spoiled by their PS3 and Xbox 360 have been able to enjoy multiplay with gamers across the globe, but Nintendo doesn't feel that utilizing this feature as something unique.
[Nintendo Land] is not going to be played over the network. There's actually a logical reason for why they decided to do that. I think for… Up until now, basically, when people have said, "What does a network mean for video gaming?", the answer has always been "online play." We look at online play and we think that it's important, and obviously for games where it makes sense, we're going to leverage it. But for Wii U launch specifically, one of the things that we want people to understand is that a network connection to a game can mean a lot of different things. It can mean online gaming, but it can also mean other unique ways to connect to other people.
-Bill Trinen, Nintendo product manager
Hopefully in time Bill and others at Nintendo will see the error of their ways and will utilize this feature in order to bring a more sizable market to their next-gen console. All in all the Wii U is a rather unique and impressive competitor that will stand the test of time by not only bringing something new to the gaming market, but also adapting its console to become a more well-rounded system.
My rating: 9 out of 10
Michael Burhan is an actor/entertainer and host of IGotGameplay, check out Michael's blog Nerd Genious for more.