Nintendo Wii U pictures and hands-on (2012)
We managed to get our hands on the Wii U last E3, but a fair bit has changed for Nintendo's new console in a year. Not only has the controller, sorry, Wii U GamePad, been redesigned a tad, but there are actual games available to play now, so the concept is easier to grasp.
Initial impressions of the new GamePad - in both white and black - are good. It's plasticky, yes, but the buttons are all cunningly placed and it feels better in the hand than you'd imagine. The touchscreen is also brighter and better defined than you might think from Nintendo's videos and former teasers. It's also light, which is essential for much of its uses in gaming.
Not much has been said about the console unit itself, and we have to say that Nintendo has wisely made it inconspicuous. Gone is the gimmicky shape of the original Wii, which was a bane to anybody who wanted to keep things tidy in an AV cabinet under the TV. Instead, it looks like a modern DVD player. Small and unassuming.
There's an optical disc drive on the front and, er, that's about it. It is currently understood that the drive will accept Wii U discs only, so we're not sure if it will be able to play DVDs from the box. It definitely won't play Blu-rays. Think Xbox 360 rather than PS3.
The Wii U GamePads that were dotted about were all wired, presumably from power/security reasons, but the home version would more than likely be used wirelessly 100 per cent of the time.
We also spied a few Wii U Pro Controllers, which do indeed look, feel and play like Xbox 360 joypads, albeit slightly lighter. Oh, and there were plenty of Wii remotes in action too. Many of the games required them.
In a private VIP room at E3 2012, Pocket-lint managed to get playtime with several games including the superb ZombiU, Project P-100, New Super Mario Bros. U, and Nintendo Land in several of its guises, and we're impressed.
To be honest, before actually getting to hold and play with the Wii U GamePad and the new games, we were sceptical that Nintendo could genuinely make something that will progress gaming rather than a new, unnecessary gimmick. And we're happy to say that we were wrong. The controller really adds to the experience, even on more hardcore games, such as ZombiU.
Over time, developers will find new and interesting ways to use the GamePad, but that specific Ubisoft title already offers plenty of examples of what is possible. For example, sniping. Hold the pad up to the TV and you get a scope to take out zombies from a distance. Simple but effective stuff.
We're also impressed at the variety of titles shown by Nintendo at E3. Pikmin 3, a Mario game, cutesy IP use with Nintendo Land are all par for the course from the Japanese company, but to exhibit non-family violent titles like ZombiU and Ninja Gaiden 3 is a welcome curve ball. It shows that, unlike the priorities of the company when it launched the Wii, its intentions for the Wii U are broader. And that will help.
It only now boils down to how the company will price its new console when it arrives in time for the holiday season. With a touchscreen tablet as a vital part of its physical make-up, we suspect it will be pricey. Perhaps too pricey for the average family. And although the hardcore gamer will appreciate some of Nintendo's new focus, that will be its bread and butter.