Nintendo of Japan unveiled the prototype of its next home video game console, the successor to the Wii, on Tuesday, June 7, at the annual E3 convention. Apparently critics and reviewers believe Nintendo has another hit on its hands by creating an innovative new system that might shake up electronic entertainment.
The new system will be known as the Wii U, and the company plans to release it between April and December of 2012. It will be compatible with existing Wii games and controllers, so consumers won’t necessarily have to replace software and accessories they already have. The new console generates and displays graphics in full 1080p high-definition. [expand]
The breakthrough is that the wireless, hand-held controller for the new system includes a six-inch-wide touch-sensitive screen right there between your hands. No longer will playing a home console game mean looking at a television all the time. Instead, the controller screen can complement or replace what’s on TV. So if one person in the household is playing a game on the living room television, and someone else wants to watch television, the gamer can switch play entirely to the controller, while the TV is flipped to the other show. That should promote domestic tranquility.
The new system could possibly create television remote controls that come with their own screens, allowing you to browse channel listings or additional information about the show you are watching without interrupting the on-screen picture. As if we don’t have enough images to process, but since techies like to multi-task, it does expand your field of perception.
The new controller has a superficial similarity to popular tablets like the Apple iPad. Nintendo and Apple are finding new ways for consumer technology to entertain and inform because both companies actually put technology second in their design process. Most important is the consumer experience, because for these companies technology is useful only as it allows everyday people to have new experiences.
The new system can deliver new sorts of game play. First came something called Chase Mii. In a sort of maze, up to four players do the chasing, while one player is chased. What’s interesting is that the hunters, using normal Wii controllers, look at the television screen, while the quarry looks at the screen on the hand-held controller. Different players in the same room are now receiving and reacting to different game information at the same time. Sounds like war games in the Situation Room.
Next came Battle Mii. One player, with the new controller, is flying around in a sort of hovercraft with lasers, while the other two players look at the TV as they try to shoot him down. The player with the hand-held screen can hide and surprise the pursuers because they can’t see the small screen. The new controller is also motion-sensitive, so you can turn and aim just by twisting and turning the screen. Apparently you really want to stand so you can turn full circle. Some games will require players to switch their attention back and forth from the television to the screen in their hands. The new system allows you to decide for yourself whether you want to display a map on the main TV or the touch screen. In other words, with the new system players can configure games to use the two screens as they please. The new controller includes a camera pointed at the user, so long-distance video conferencing capability over the Internet is possible. The combination of high-def graphics with this new screen-enhanced controller should put Nintendo back in the home console competition with Sony and Microsoft. Let the games begin. [/expand]