The Nintendo “Wii U” Starts the Next Generation (while joining the current one, as well…)

The Nintendo Wii U is the company’s upcoming video game console, announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo on June 7th, 2011 and set to launch this coming Sunday, November 18, 2012 in North America (November 30, 2012 in Europe and Australia, and December 8, 2012 in Japan). The Wii U serves as the successor to the popular best-selling, yet oft-ridiculed (by many gamers) Wii console, and will be the first entry in the next (eighth) generation of home video game consoles.  

The console was first conceived in 2008, when Nintendo finally recognized they hole they dig themselves in regarding the multiple limitations and challenges with the Wii.  Those issues mainly pertain to the general public perception that the Wii and its software were catered primarily to the “casual” gaming audience and the lack of quality software (as many games focused too much on settling on gimmicky motion controls and not enough on how to implement  the motion control mechanic well within gameplay). With Wii U, Nintendo is attempting to win back the “hardcore” gaming population, and legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto admitted that the Wii’s lack of HD and limited network infrastructure contributed to the system being regulated in an entirely separate class of gaming consoles from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

The Wii U will be Nintendo’s first console to support high-definition graphics and be capable of producing video output up to 1080p, and has 2 GB of memory(20 times that of the Wii) with 1 GB dedicated to the console’s operating system (OS). The console will be released in two editions: the “Basic” white-colored version with 8 GB of internal Flash storage; and the “Deluxe” black-colored version with 32 GB of Flash storage, which includes a console stand and a dock for the Wii U Game Pad. Both versions with also include an HDMI cable in box.  The Wii U GamePad features an built-in touchscreen and serves as the console’s primary controller. The touchscreen aims to supplement the main gameplay shown on the television or (with games that support this feature) can allow the player to continue playing games by displaying the main gameplay on the Game Pad, even when the television is off. Nintendo also plans to release a more traditional controller, called the Wii U Pro Controller, in the very near future. The Wii U will also include Nintendo TVii, which provides streaming digital movie and television content from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and YouTube.  The Nintendo Network will be the company’s unified network infrastructure (a’la the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live) that provides the means for online multiplayer, video chatting via an integrated social network system called Miiverse (through the Wii U Gamepad’s built-in camera), and various digital downloads via the Nintendo eShop.

The Wii U will be backward compatible with games from the original Wii, and Wii U games can be made compatible with Wii peripherals (i.e. the Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuk controllers). However, the system will not be backward compatible with Nintendo GameCube discs or peripherals, as the games from that console will become available for purchase digitally and can be downloaded from Nintendo’s Virtual Console service.

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