Video Game News: Nintendo Wii U Details Released, Major Third-Party Support Announced

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CHICAGO – Despite the Wii U being the focal point of Nintendo’s E3 keynote address, details on the system’s pricing and release date were conspicuously absent. Those details were filled in today via a special event held in New York City. The Wii U will be available on November 18th, and come in two flavors, a bare-bones version with 8 gigs of storage at $299.99, and a deluxe version, with a game stand, charging station, free game, 32 gigs of storage, and sleek black finish, for 349.99.

Much like how the Wii was known for Wii Remote (WiiMote) and motion controls, the Wii U’s claim to fame is it’s listlessly titled, touch-screen capable ‘GamePad’. According to Nintendo, the GamePad allows players to interact with their games in never before possible ways, including the ability to use said GamePad to play a game on the Wii U while the TV it’s connected to is in use, thereby eliminating family arguments about who gets the Big TV in the living room on Friday Nights. Nintendo also announced that The Wii U will include something called TVii, which will allow users to watch live tv, stream Netflix movies, and access their Tivo from the system’s dashboard. For more details on the actual machine, check out our hands-on experience with the machine.

Nintendo Wii U
Nintendo Wii U
Photo credit: Nintendo

Outside of the features of the console itself, Nintendo touts the launch lineup for the system as one of the best ever, with 40+ titles available within the system’s ‘launch window’ which spans from November 18th through the end of March. Familiar first party faces are present and accounted for, including a new Super Mario Bros. game, a new Pinkmin game, a sequel to Wii Fit, and another installment in the delightfully bizarre Wario Ware franchise, that are all slated to make appearances on the console prior to spring-time.

For a change, the launch lineup includes a bevy of third party titles as well, including special editions of “Batman: Arkham City,” “Call of Duty: Black Ops II,” “Mass Effect 3,” the Wii U exclusive “Bayonetta 2,” and “Zombie U,” which despite the title has very little to do with the collegiate lives of the undead. The most interesting release of the bunch appears to be “Lego City: Undercover,” a “Grand Theft Auto”-esque game featuring everyone’s favorite-until-you-step-on-one building blocks, which comes with a collectible Lego figure if you pre-order now.

Super Mario Bros. U
Super Mario Bros. U
Photo credit: EA Sports

Nintendo is releasing this console at a curious time. With the new Xbox (Xbox 720?) and Playstation (Playstation 4?) consoles a ways off in the distance, and the Wii U looking to be about as powerful as current generation hardware, the question becomes who is the target audience? With the majority of third party titles being remakes or ports of existing games, and most gamers who have a Wii already owning either an Xbox 360 or PS3, who exactly is the Wii U for? Lest we forget the idea of touch-screen gaming is nothing new, and not nearly as sexy as the idea of motion controls.

The last system released in between console cycles was Sega’s much beloved but badly selling Dreamcast, which released several months ahead of the PS2, Gamecube and Xbox, and ultimately undersold due to most people wanting to wait for the next generation of consoles to begin proper, this despite innovative features like a modem, web-browser, and ability to play games on the system’s VMU devices, which plugged directly into the controller. With the majority of popular titles being available across three systems, will gamers be motivated to spend almost 400 dollars for the privilege of playing them on a Nintendo Console? Time will tell.

But then again, this is Nintendo, who consistently find ways to engage their fans with new and exciting game play experiences, which surely the Wii U will have no shortage of. Combined with the supposedly innovative GamePad and compatible with the current Wiimote, It’s not hard to find a reason to want this console.

By Paul Meekin
Staff Writer

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