Nintendo has finally unveiled its Wii U launch plans a full year after the console was officially shown off to the public at E3 2011. The main headlines are as follows; it will be released worldwide before the end of the year; with America first, then Europe and then, finally, Japan. There will be two versions on offer and will retail around £249-£299 depending on which version you opt for.
The original Wii was way behind the competition when it launched, and it’s a similar story this time around. This is the first HD compatible console Nintendo has ever released, and compared to the current crop of console it’s on-par with the Xbox 360 & PS3 – which isn’t a bad thing until you realise the Xbox and PS3 are now 6 years old.
We now know the system comes with 2GB of RAM, 1GB for games and another 1GB for running the OS. We know there’s a Power-based CPU from IBM and there’s a AMD Radeon GPU as well. Nintendo is staying cagey about the exact specs, but it’s clear the console can match the current crop of console, but next year when the Sony and Microsoft unveil their new console it might well be obsolete in many gamers’ eyes. While it might not be the most advanced the console around it will still be able to achieve 6 channel audio and 1080p HD graphics. And it’s comes HDMI, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and NFC straight out of the box.
Price and release date
Interestingly America and Europe actually get the Wii before its native Japan. In the UK the console goes on sale November 30, the US gets it 12 days earlier on November 18, and Japan, bizarrely, has to make do with December 8.
Official prices for the Wii has been announced by Nintendo and in the US, where Ninty can set the recommended retail price, prices have been set at $249.99 for the 8GB and $349.99 for the 32GB premium version.
In the UK retailers actually set the price themselves, so at the moment they’ve all come in a lot higher than what you’d pay across the pond. Nevertheless, early indications are that the 8GB Nintendo Wii U will cost £249.99 while the 32GB model will cost £299 – but once we get closer to the release expect a supermarket-style price war.
The main unique selling point of the Wii U is the Gamepad: a 6.2-inch hybrid controller/tablet. The controller comes with all the usual buttons, 3D sticks and D-pad, but that’s not all, it’s probably the most advanced controller ever devised and comes with a full touchscreen, accelerometer, gyroscope, geomagnetic sensor, front-facing camera, microphone, speakers, rumble feedback and stylus.
You won’t be able to play with on the bus, but you can use the second screen to play games whilst someone else watches the TV or vice versa. It obviously opens up loads of opportunities for game developers to come up with new and exciting ways to use the second screen.
In addition to the Wii U controller you’ll be able to use up to four additional Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus controllers, or two Wii U Pro controllers. So if you own an original Wii you’ll be able to use all your old accessories and in the future you’ll be able to buy another Wii Gamepad, although no games actually support using two gamepad controllers just yet.
Two Wii U versions
The Basic Wii U comes in white and the premium version comes in black; the white version comes with 8GB of flash memory and the premium black version comes with 32GB onboard memory and includes a Nintendo Network Premium subscription, which offers 10% of all digital downloads for a year and can’t be access or bought in any other way.
Both packs include the console, a GamePad and stylus, a sensor bar, HDMI and two chargers (one for the console and one for the GamePad). The Premium set also includes a copy of Nintendo Land, a GamePad stand and cradle and a console stand.
Nintendo Wii U backwards compatibility
The Wii U will be backwards compatible, which means it should play “nearly” all your old games. However the Wii U won’t play DVD’s or Blu-Rays – but Nintendo does plan on offering a range of on-demand TV services. This comes in the shape of the new TVii (TVeeeeeeee) service and will offer access to content from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon and YouTube.