In Los Angeles today Nintendo spent most of an hour showing off the Wii U and its games. They’ve been very discreet about the hardware so far and the finer details are still not easy to come by. We do, however, have a whole lot more information than we did yesterday, so let’s have a look at some pictures and run through what we have learnt so far.
The Wii U console itself is fully backwards compatible with the Wii, supporting Wii U and Wii discs (but seemingly not GameCube). It is powered by a multi-core IBM processor and an AMD Radeon HD GPU, although the specs of these have not been revealed. It has HDMI out as well as all the original Wii outputs, but we don’t know yet whether you will be able to use HDMI for your Wii games (I hope so, I’ve kept an old CRT around just so I can play Wii games). It also has four USB connectors.
So far it’s all pretty stock standard and seems very similar to current gen machines. The unique feature, however, is the Wii U GamePad, a controller that incorporates a 6.2-inch 16:9 LCD touch screen as well as traditional controls. It looks like the touch screen is resistive because Nintendo haven’t mentioned multi-touch and they’ve shown people using a pointy stlyus with it. The pad includes motion control, utilising an accelerometer, gyroscope and geomagnetic sensor. The traditional controls are traditional – two analog sticks (which incorporate buttons), L and R buttons, L2 and R2 buttons (called ZL and ZR here), a D-pad, A/B/X/Y buttons and power, home, select, start and TV control buttons. The TV control is interesting – it seems to use standard infra-red to make your Wii GamePad act as a TV remote control. The pad also includes a microphone, a front facing camera, speakers, rumble, a sensor bar (not sure what this is for) and support for Near Field Communication (NFC). It has a rechargable battery which is said to last 3 to 5 hours.
A separate traditional controller will also be available for easier support for cross-platform gaming. This pad is called the Wii U Pro and sports the same controls you would see on a DualShock or Xbox 360 controller. The console can support up to two Wii U GamePads as well as up to four Wii Remotes or Wii U Pro controllers.
The storage system is internal flash memory, but also supported are SD cards and external USB storage. Seeing as Nintendo are planning to sell all Wii U software digitally as well as on disc it remains to be seen how they intend for us to put all our digital downloads on the Wii U machine.