Editorials, Featured, Main, Nintendo, Wii U

Everything We Know So Far About the Wii U

by on December 31, 2011 11:45 AM 1

The Consumer Electronics Show is coming up and Nintendo will be in attendance, toting with them the Wii U. The console hasn’t seen the light of day since E3 2011, and in preparation for its reemergence I’ve compiled the information we already have on its specs. Will the model at CES be different, or it is largely unchanged? Perhaps CES will showcase a prototype further along in development, while the final model will have its grand coming-out party at E3 2012.

There is much we don’t yet know. But here is what we do know.

The controller: The Wii U controller is 10.5″ wide by 6.8″ high, 1.8″ thick and sports a 6.2″ 16:9 touchscreen with single-touch capabilities (like the DS and 3DS) in the middle. There is a camera and sensor bar right above it. There are L/ZL and R/ZR buttons positioned much like on a dualshock controller and dual analog sticks as well as the traditional D-pad on the left and ABYZ buttons on the right. The Select, Home, +Start, and Power Buttons line the button as well as a microphone and Battery LED light. There are two stereo speakers on either side along the bottom of the remote.

The Wii U controller is rechargeable and includes a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, the traditional rumble feature,  and tilting and shaking features. There is also a stylus pen tucked into the side for use with the touchscreen.

Everything We Know So Far About the Wii U

Game content can be streamed from the console onto the controller’s touchscreen, making it easy to switch between viewing a game on your TV and on the controller. This is particularly useful when someone else wants to watch television but the gamer wants to continue playing.

The console: The console itself will play Wii U and Wii game discs (being backwards compatible with Wii games and peripherals) and will use special touchscreen Wii U remotes, Wii Remotes and Wii MotionPlus remotes, classic remotes and Wii Fit boards. Up to four Wii remotes can be used at a time, but it is still up in the air as to whether play will support one or two Wii U tablet remotes at a time. Nintendo originally announced that the answer was one, but current speculations on hints dropped by Satoru Iwata say the company may be researching the possibility of two.

Nintendo has also embraced HD. Video output supports 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p, and 480i, and is compatible with HDMI, Component, S-video and Composite cables. The audio uses an AV Multi Out connector and requires a six-channel PCM linear output through HDMI. The console runs on an IBM Power-based multi-core processor and will have internal flash memory as well as the option to use SD cards or an external USB hard disk drive. Supposedly the technology used in the Wii U is the same technology that powers the famous Jeopardy robot Watson.

3D: The Wii U will be fully capable of 3D, but it will not be a focal point for marketing the console. Iwata has said that the Wii U can be used for 3D on a TV that is capable of displaying in 3D. Other than that it seems that 3D will not be available on TVs that do not support it.

Online Capabilities: The Wii sports poor online capability, and Nintendo recognizes this, promising to work towards creating a better online experience for the Wii U. Nintendo, hopefully, will start offering a service much like XBLA or the PSN.

Launch Date: According to a Nintendo representative, Nintendo will “re-unveil” the console at E3 2012. As for a potential release date, the rep told GameInformer that the public can expect to see the Wii U on store shelves “between the start of the 2012 E3 Expo in June, and the end of 2012.” Which is, like, soon.

Join the Discussion

  • Connor Beaton

    Actually, we don’t know whether the Wii U will be fully capable of 3D. Iwata said it was possible from a technical standpoint, but didn’t mention anything about whether it would be an included feature. It’d be nice, though.

    I’m also wondering why you said “Nintendo, hopefully, will start offering a service much like XBLA”. Nintendo already has an equivalent to XBLA, it’s called WiiWare. If you meant Xbox LIVE, that’d be a different matter entirely.

    Apart from that, I’m looking forward to seeing what CES shows about the Wii U. I’m tentatively excited, but some aspects of the controller still worry me – for example, can we still stream games to the controller screen if the controller screen is normally a vital menu? Will there be games that don’t support this feature?

    I’m also going to miss the Wii Remote. I get the feeling there won’t be many single-player games with the Wii Remote as the primary controller, and there is so much unexplored potential with the pointer functionality and the Wii MotionPlus. There could technically exist Wii Remote-based games, but they wouldn’t be compatible with the streaming-to-controller either, so they probably won’t be prevalent.

    Oh well, let’s see what Nintendo has to show later this month!

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