Today At CES 2012, I Touched a Wii U and I May Never Wash My Hands Again

Wii U Nintendo

Wii U

Every man has his weakness.  Here in Sin City Las Vegas, there are endless temptations – the gambling, the giant frozen drinks and the women with more silicone than all the gadgets at CES.   Today, I meet my match and succumbed to a slightly different temptation.  When the fine folks at Nintendo gave me the opportunity to play with the new Wii U, I could not resist and turned into a giddy 7 year old boy again.

What is the Nintendo Wii U?

I am going to go out on a limb here and assume some Dad Does readers actually have a life and don’t follow every piece of news on new video game systems.   Let’s bring you up to geek speed on the Nintendo Wii U.  The Wii U is the next version of the Nintendo Wii video game system, slated to be released some time in the second half of 2012.  Yes, the Wii U will have HD graphics, faster processors, improved hardware, blah, blah, blah.

What makes the Wii U different than the Xbox 360 and PS3 is the controller.  The Wii U has a 6.2 inch color touch screen right on the controller.  This means in addition to seeing the action on your TV, video games for the Wii U can also use the screen on the controlled to enhance game play.  Here are all the juicy details on the controller –

“Approximately 5.3 inches high, 0.9 inches deep (not including buttons and other
projections) and 9.0 inches long. The new controller incorporates a 6.2-inch, 16:9
touch screen and traditional button controls, including two analog Circle Pads. This
combination removes the traditional barriers between games, players and the TV by
creating a second window into the video game world. The rechargeable controller
includes a Power button, Home button, +Control Pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons
and ZL/ZR buttons. It includes a built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, rumble
feature, camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, a sensor strip and a stylus.”

Wii U

My Impressions From Playing With the Wii U

It is totally awesome, I want one, I want one, I want one, I NEED one….  Sorry, I am back from 7 year old mode.   In truth the Wii U really did fell like a completely new and incredibly fun way to play video games.   So much of what you see at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is just slightly better versions of what already exists.  Cameras get better resolution, TVs get bigger and laptops get thinner.  The Wii U did NOT feel like a slightly evolved Wii, it felt like a fresh new way to play games.

I played a demo where I was Mario and was trying to hide from 3 other players.   On my Wii U controller, I could see a map of the whole area and exactly where the other players were.  The 3 other players, using standard Wii controllers (Wii U is backward compatible with all Wii controllers and accessories) were looking at the TV screen and trying to find me.  I know this doesn’t sound like much fun, but the fact that I could have a totally different view of the game than the other players made it a whole new playing experience.  It wasn’t about better graphics or faster speed, it was playing a video game like you have never played before.

In another demo I was in a spaceship, flying around and trying to shoot the other players (who were ground bound), before they blasted me out of the sky.  Again, this would be pretty boring in the traditional split screen manner you would play this game today, however, with the Wii U controller it was a whole new experience.  I was turning all around, moving my controller to fly and shoot, while the other players were looking at the TV and trying shoot me out of the sky.  It was simply a very fun and natural way to play a multi-player game.

Wii U Nintendo

The Wii U Goes Well Beyond Games

From a video demo I was shown, it looks like Nintendo is looking to create some very interesting ways to interact with media on the Wii U.   You can be browsing the web on your TV, want to zoom and read something?  Press a button and it appears on the controller.  Have media on the controller you want to show off on your TV?  Just flick and it goes over to the TV.   It is almost like having a tablet, PC and TV in perfect sync all the time.

Should You Sell Your First Born To Get a Wii U?

In the current economy,  I have heard it is better to rent your first born rather then sell…or was that your first home?  Of course, a whole host of problems could still doom the Wii U and break my heart.  Pricing has not been set, so that is a huge question mark.  Game titles have not been announced.  Everything I saw was a demo, so I have no idea what games will be available at launch.  How much will additional Wii U controllers cost?  How durable will they be?

Clearly there are plenty of questions that need to be answered.  This article is obviously not  a review or recommendation of the Wii U.  We shot some video and will be posting more about the Wii U in coming weeks.  For now, all I know is that playing the Wii U was flat out fun and earned me serious respect points from my seven year old son.

UPDATE:

Here is a video and some photos of my time with the Wii U –

Video of Nintendo Wii U Hands On Demo

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