Everything We Know About The Wii U

by Kyle Hilliard on Dec 20, 2011 at 10:41 AM

The Wii U is going to be the first system out of the gate when it comes to the next wave of consoles, but the average consumer is already confused about what exactly the Wii U is. In the interest of hopefully clearing up some confusion, here are some things we can confirm.

It's Brand New

The Wii U is an entirely new console. It shares the Wii moniker, and will use the traditional Wii remote as a controller at some capacity, but it is all new. New graphics, new functionality, new games; it’s an all-new console. With it, Nintendo is finally entering the HD era confirming that the console will be able to output in 1080p.

When it was first shown off at E3 earlier this year, people were understandably confused. The first video showcasing the Wii U had gamers playing Wii games like New Super Mario Brothers, using Wii remotes and standing on the balance board. Even the console itself looks a bit like the Wii. Everyone thought that new fancy controller with the built-in screen was just a new Wii peripheral.

While that video did cause some confusion, it did confirm a few additional details. The Wii U will be backwards compatible with Wii games and Wii peripherals. It will not, however, play GameCube games like the Wii was able to do. Nintendo likes to look back only one generation at a time.

It Has A Controller

That controller is pretty interesting and there are a few things we know about it. All of the processing and computing power will be handled by the console plugged into your TV, but it will be able to stream game content to the hand-held screen.  This means that you can easily switch to the screen in your lap, if others in the household need to use the television. We also know that despite the popularity of multi-touch screens on devices like Apple’s iPad, the Wii U’s touch screen will only be able to offer single-touch capabilities like that of the DS and 3DS. Nintendo has also confirmed that the controller will have tilt and rumble functionality.

Nintendo revealed pretty early on that the Wii U would only be able to support one touch-screen controller at a time. It was a bit of a surprise, but also a relief since an additional touch-screen controller would undoubtedly be expensive. Recently though, there are rumors that the Wii U may be able to support multiple touch-screen controllers. That of course is rumor, so we will have to wait and see on that one.

It's Smart

Rumors were running wild at the announcement of the Wii U that the system will be more powerful than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. We’re not sure how powerful the system will be, but we do know it’s smart. It’s powered by the same technology used to power Watson, the supercomputer made famous on Jeopardy, according to Endgaget.

It's Not In 3D (Unless You Want It To Be)

Nintendo put a lot of eggs in the 3D basket with the 3DS, and many of them have cracked slightly and begun to leak. The Wii U is fully capable, but 3D will not be a focus for the console. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata was quoted saying, "If you are going to connect Wii U with a home TV capable of displaying 3D images, technologically, yes, it is going to be possible, but that's not the area we are focusing on."

It (Hopefully) Has Better Online

The Wii’s online capabilities were abysmal. The only time the Wii did anything interesting online, was when a company like Activision took things into their own hands. Games like Call of Duty play well online on the Wii, and when the world had Guitar Hero fever, Activision even figured out how to offer downloadable music tracks to the Wii owners. For this go round, we can expect the online to be much better. This falls under rumor much like the multiple touch screens idea above, but Nintendo may be in talks to have a company like EA or even Valve (fingers crossed on the latter option) handle the online content delivery for Wii U. Developers often complain about the difficulty of working with Microsoft and Xbox Live, and Nintendo would do well to offer an easier alternative to that service. Hopefully, the online structure will be an open one that developers can play with.

It Plays Games

When it comes to games, Nintendo has a lot in the wings, but very little of it is new, or will be new by the time the console launches. Nintendo has shown off Darksiders 2, Tekken, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online, Dirt, Aliens Colonial Marines, Metro Last Light, and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge in video form, but apparently, Darksiders 2 was the only game running on the actual Wii U hardware. It was also the only game that a developer stated that would be available at launch. Since then THQ has reissued it's launch statement to something a little more ambiguous saying that the game is, "anticipated to be a launch title." We also heard mention of Batman Arkham City and Assassin’s Creed, and then we can always count on the old Nintendo standbys like Zelda and Mario. Nintendo actually had an interactive video of a Wii U Zelda on hand at E3, but made sure that media understood that it had been created exclusively for tech demo purposes.

It's Coming Soon(ish)

Nintendo will have the Wii U on hand at the upcoming CES convention, but there won’t be anything new accompanying it. Nintendo said that the purpose for the Wii U being at CES is to give those who weren’t able to spend any time with it at E3 a chance to check it out. It is planning a re-unveiling a the upcoming 2012 E3 conference, and, "production and development efforts remain on track for the Wii U launch, which will take place between the start of the 2012 E3 Expo in June, and the end of 2012," according to a representative from Nintendo.