E3 2011: hands on with Wii U tablet

The new Wii U console will debut in 2012. It combines motion control with a touchscreen game controller. Nintendo says "it will change the way we play games".

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Nintendo has introduced the Wii U, the successor to the Wii. Think of the Wii U as a sort of DS and Wii hybrid, combining touch and motion controls, with an on-screen HD gaming experience.

We were lucky enough to get some hands-on time with a collection of Wii U game demos and time with the tablet controller.

The Wii U tablet's screen is astonishingly bright and detailed, allowing for both stylus and touch inputs. The controller itself is lighter than we thought it would be and the rear Z triggers fit snugly in our hands.

We got a glimpse of the Wii U console too, which appears to be a slightly bulkier but rounded Wii console. It was hidden behind a plastic window, so we can't attest to its actual dimensions.

As mentioned earlier, we had a generous amount of hands-on time with some Wii U games:

Battle Mii: in this sort of hide-and-seek game, the player using the Wii U tablet flies a spacecraft hunting down Mii characters sporting Metroid-inspired armour. The Wii U tablet's tilt capabilities are used to aim and each thumbpad is responsible for moving the aircraft while the Z triggers control zoom and firing. In practice the game was enjoyable, encouraging the Wii remote players to communicate and plan strategies against the tablet player.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Chase Mii: in Chase Mii, up to four players with Wii remote controls must hunt down and tackle the tablet player. Four quadrants divide a maze-inspired map with the tablet player having the advantage of a 15-second start and being able to see the entire map showing all players' locations.

New Super Mario Bros Mii: the first HD Mario Bros game looks fantastic, but played exactly like New Super Mario Bros Wii. Of course, Mii characters can be imported and played in-game. Here, the Wii U tablet simply mirrors the game, showing how easy it is to instantly pick up the game if a TV isn't readily available.

Overall, we're impressed with the innovative uses of the Wii U tablet. The graphics on its screen are sharp and clear, and we were surprised by how much of a separate experience it provides away from the TV screen. The HD graphics are great, but saying the picture "trumps" current-generation consoles is inaccurate.


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AngusR posted a comment   

So so sceptical. I'm a nintendo fan boy all the way but I really don't get this move.

Firstly, there are two screens.. the remote, and the TV. So you're supposed to view two at once?

Secondly, how many of these are you supposed to own in addition to Wiimote controllers? If the current genuine remotes cost AU$69 each, how much will a freaking controller with a screen cost? I'm sure as hell not going to buy 4 screen remotes for AU$150 each....

Thirdly... What the hell is it? A portable or a console?

This just seems like am muddled attempt to blend portable/tablet properties with a stay at home console. Basically you have all the drawbacks of a portable system, without any portability...



JasonLee posted a reply   

the Nintendo Wii U controller with the built-in screen retails for $200


andrew1953 posted a comment   

Very innovative but I wonder how you're meant to cope with two screens simultaneously?To play Mario Kart I'll try anything.

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