From 2007 through 2008, you’d be a lucky person to find a Nintendo Wii sitting on store shelves. Nintendo started the motion-controlled gaming revolution in 2007 with the debut of the Wii. What started off to many of the console with the funny name took the casual gaming market by storm. Without the Wii, peripherals such as Microsoft’s Kinect and Sony’s Playstation Move may not have ever come to fruition. However, for the technological marvel the Wii’s motion-controlled experience was, its shortcomings on the hardware end – from its lack of high-definition graphics to something as simple as the lack of an ability to play DVD movies – eventually caught up with Nintendo and Wii sales fizzled quickly. Couple this with the lack of quality third-party games and the overwhelming amount of shovelware or crapware and what once was the darling of the console market was now the console relegated to trade-ins.
Nintendo’s follow-up to the Wii, the Wii U, is looking a lot like Apple in the smartphone market: a bit of innovation coupled with a lot of catching up to do on the hardware end. The Wii U will finally support HD graphics and has the horsepower to play on the same field of its now five or six-year-old competition. Nintendo is also looking to capitalize on the growing tablet craze by integrating a tablet controller into the Wii U.
The tablet, featuring a large touch screen along surrounded by button and joysticks, will act as a “second screen” for Wii U owners. Nintendo hopes to kill the pause menu by allowing players the ability to complete tasks that used to be buried in the pause menu right on the Wii U tablet. Imagine being able to switch your inventory on your favorite RPG without having to pause and go through the series of menus. This sounds fantastic in theory, however, will need developer talent to really determine whether the tablet will become a gamechanger or a gamebreaker.
At a press conference today, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Amie announced that the Nintendo Wii U will be available in stores on Sunday, November 18, for $299.99 for the 16GB version, or $349.99 for the “deluxe” version with 32GB of storage, a GamePad (tablet) charging stand, and the launch title NintendoLand. The first of the next-generation consoles will land just in time for the biggest shopping weekend of the year (after Thanksgiving). However, if the Wii U is the hit Nintendo hopes it will be, will buyers run into the same supply, or lack thereof, issues like 2007?
One new feature shown today by Nintendo was the unveiling of Nintendo TVii. TVii is a new feature that allow Wii U owners to use the GamePad (tablet) controller to search for streaming movies or television through services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu to stream to their televisions through the Wii U. TVii will be free of charge to use, not including the subscription fees for the individual services. Essentially, this is Nintendo’s answer to Apple’s AirPlay technology with the Apple TV, which allows iOS devices to stream video from their iPhones or iPads to their televisions through the Apple TV. The Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 both support these services but require the user to navigate the console through the interface on the TV.
Fils-Amie also confirmed that both NintendoLand and Super Mario U, along with 50 other titles from major publishers like EA and Ubisoft, will release on November 18 with the launch of the Wii U. We’ve already seen a preview of Assassin’s Creed III‘s possibilities with the Wii U, along with a zombie shooter from Ubisoft. While not confirmed, expect titles such as EA’s Madden 13 to also launch on November 18 (using the tablet to draw out plays could be interesting, again if EA develops it). One game noticeably absent, but likely in development, is Nintendo’s next installment of its Legend of Zelda franchise.
The November 18 launch gives Nintendo a head start over Microsoft and Sony on the “next generation” of consoles, as both competitors have yet to announce their plans for their next-gen consoles. This is probably a good thing for Nintendo, as the next-gen offerings from Microsoft and Sony will more than likely make the Wii U’s hardware feel antiquated quickly. Astute gamers will also notice that Nintendo’s tablet controller exclusivity will be short-lived, as we’ve already seen Microsoft’s tablet plans for the future with the Xbox’s Project Glass.
Gamers, will you be picking up a Wii U this November? What are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments.