Wii U hands-on impressions

Heading into the sixth year of our current-generation consoles, namely the Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii, one starts to think of where each manufacturer will be heading with their video game products; but while Microsoft and Sony are keeping things under-wraps, Nintendo has unveiled its forthcoming machine and are getting a head start in the console race.

But what exactly is the Wii U? MyGaming got some hands-on time with Nintendo’s new system and test-drove the next step in gaming.

What is the Wii U?

For those who don’t know, the strangely named, but highly-anticipated follow-up to Nintendo’s colossal-selling little white console is rumoured to hit our shores before the end of the year. The Wii U will continue its namesake by introducing a bunch of new innovative ideas into the console and hardware world.

Featuring a large tablet-like controller, the Wii U will utilise a dual-screen system. The controller itself hosts a 6.2 inch touch-screen, which can either replicate or supplement the game on-screen. For example: players could use the touchscreen on the controller as an inventory, map of the level, or ammo indicator, while having the television or screen dedicated to the main elements of the game.

In addition to the touchscreen, the controller will also feature two analogue sticks, front and rear facing cameras, motion-control abilities and the usual face buttons you’d expect on a modern game controller.

While the gamepad itself is a highlight of Nintendo’s new system, the console is also capable of a lot more than its predecessor. The machine will output graphics in glorious 1080p (which the original Wii was unable to do) and have backwards compatibility with all Wii games, showing that Nintendo is thinking forward, without leaving the past behind.

In Your Hands

Hearing about the Wii U is one thing, but seeing and getting to feel Nintendo’s latest innovation is something else. We got some one-on-one time with the console and its defining controller.

The Wii U GamePad is big – there’s no denying that. But getting it into your hands helps that perception slip away.

The GamePad features a well-placed ridge on the back of the controller. This gives a place for the index fingers and middle fingers to rest, and also houses two of the trigger buttons. The ridge makes balancing the controller comfortable.

The size and weight of the tablet-like controller feels natural and comfortable, and using it for motion-controlled purposes doesn’t seem obtrusive or awkward. This means that even holding the controller extended for an AR style game will not cause fatigue.

Secondly, the analog sticks feel similar to that of the original Wii’s Nunchuck. The index fingers naturally rest on the two triggers (L and R). The shoulder buttons are easily reachable, although more far apart from one another than on other traditional controllers.

The Screen

The Wii U GamePad’s screen is the most important feature of the next Nintendo console, and while it may have less clarity than a true HD screen, it’s bright, vivid and fulfils the role of a secondary screen perfectly.

The touch screen was, as one would expect from a company that has now created two touch screen systems, very responsive. The slightest tap was enough to register a command. It is disappointing that the screen does not support multi-touch, but Nintendo had already shown that they are planning to stick with single-touch, non-capacitive, touch screen technology on the 3DS so this should not be surprising.

The overall impression from getting time with the Wii U is that it’s looking incredibly promising. A number of games utilised the controller well, and those on offer did impress visually. While this is just a glimpse of what’s to come, Nintendo’s Wii U is not pulling any punches in terms of ambition.

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