Nintendo Wii U – my first impressions

Earlier this week the successor to the Nintendo Wii was announced – the Wii U.

The Wii was needing a replacement because, although popular at first, sales have slumped. The Wii was always behind the Xbox and PS3 in terms of processor and graphics capabilities but I think the lack of media capabilities drove more people to find consoles such as the PS3 a more tempting proposition – it’s recently come down to £200 and that includes a built in blu-ray player as well as iPlayer, ITV Player and 4oD built-in.

So, rumours with rife before the launch at E3. It had already leaked that the controller would have a built-in screen – I could image a small colour LCD that could display useful information. Further rumours including a hard drive, Blu-ray player and 4GB memory. None of these were scoffed by followers as they seemed eminently practical.

However, now we know the details I’m left deeply, deeply underwhelmed.

The console itself looks like a more rounded version of the Wii. It uses it’s own optical disc format – they appear to be Blu-ray capacity without being so. So no movie watching. Still. No hard drive either. The processor and GPU specs don’t appear to be definite but it looks like it may be as good as the PS3 and Xbox (hardly next generation) – at least it’s HD now. It’s backwards compatible with the Wii but not the Gamecube. And that’s about it.

The controller, on the other hand, is huge. It’s not a small screen built in, but a large one. Quite how this is to be used I’m not sure – I’m not sure how you concentrate on a game on your main screen and look at this at the same time.  It looks like a tablet and will probably feel heavy after a while. It does have a camera built-in though, so that could be interesting.

However, there’s not talk of the Wii U using a sensor bar so one of the revolutionary things about the Wii has been lost – indeed the controller doesn’t have a pointing device in it.

But here’s the big rub… you only get one controller with the Wii U and, because of the price of them, Nintendo say that they won’t be available to buy separately. I’m assuming Wii controllers are compatible, but where’s the fun of creating a new type of controller for a “family console” and restricting it to one each. Indeed, Microsoft Kinect in particular and Sony Play to a lesser extent are shifting away from the controllers and getting the console to do the work – that way you can have lots of people using it with a minimum of cost.

It will be out mid-2012. I’m not excited.


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