Nintendo has unveiled its newest game platform: Wii U.
Wii U combines the utilities of an iPad, DS and functionalities of both controller and remote into one white-scale casing, keeping it in line with the Wii-style design currently seen in the current hardware and peripherals.
Wii U offers a 6.2 inch touch screen in its centre, and surrounded by the control methods seen in traditional controllers; dual analog sticks, D-Pad, four face buttons, Z/R buttons and L/R buttons. There's also a stylus for touch-screen interaction (though your finger works just as well). There's a sensor strip and stylus as well.
The controller is approximately 1.8 inches tall, 6.8 inches wide, 10.5 inches long, and is rechargeable.
But the controller (and Nintendo did refer to Wii U as 'controller' during the conference) also has an inbuilt accelerometer (shown by the a Shield Pose demo, forcing you to move aside from any arrows being fired), camera, microphone and speaker (allowing for video chat), as well as rumble support.
It's backwards compatible with Wii peripherals, such as Classic Controller and Nunchuk, with conference video exampling using it with the Wii Fit board, with your stats appearing on the touch screen.
More importantly you can continue games played on the TV onto the device, Nintendo exampling a game of Super Mario Bros Mii (note the new title - import Miis into the game) played on the TV, then seamlessly picked up and continued on the Wii U.
You can also surf the net from the controller's screen, and wireless transfer images and video from online and your screen to the TV.
You can also use the device like a PC tablet, playing games on it (two-player checkers is shown in the demo, the controller shaken to clear the board) or use it to sketch, like an art tablet.
You can also use it as an extra screen for your game experiences. We see a video of someone laying the Wii U on the floor in front of them while playing a golf game on the TV - the Wii U's screen shows the golf ball, ready to be hit with the virtua/Wii Remote club - the in-built sensor strip tracks the movement and responds.
There's eight demonstrations for the Wii U being shown at E3 (emphasis on demonstrations, rather than prototypes of actual games), each highlighting the tech and its capabilities.
But if it's a controller, what about the system it operates on, or with?
The Console, or "Box"
No mention at all during the show, but Nintendo has just stated during a post-conference interview that there'll be a 'box' which the Wii U communicates with, which runs proprietary data discs (not Blu-Ray) handling HD content. You can see the first shot of it in the image above: an eject button, power button and a flap that's looking like it holds controller connector ports, similar to the GC controller slots on the Wii's top.
The console offers a single self-loading media bay for 12cm high-density discs, as well as Wii discs. The system is backwards compatible with all Wii games. However, it won't run GameCube games.
The video output supports 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p, 480i, and is compatible with HDMI cables. Audio output uses a AV Multi Out connector, six-channel PCM linear output through HDMI.
The console will have internal flash memory, with the option for expanded it with SD memory cards or external USB disk drive.
Up to four Wii Remote controllers can be connected at once.
It suggests the real flair of Wii U will be in the controller rather than the console design itself - perhaps we'll see a box similar to Apple TV to hide under your TV?
Third-parties lead the way for software support (no mention of Nintendo's own products). A video montage showed the following titles:
Batman: Arkham City
Ghost Recon Online
Aliens: Colonial Marines
Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge
It should be noted that all the gameplay shown (aside, perhaps, from Tekken, whose footage showed customisation modes perhaps used on the Wii U's touch screen) was the same footage seen previous to Nintendo's conference, suggesting games are too early in development to be shown.
But EA did come on stage during the conference it pledge its support for the system, exampling how the likes of Madden could let you decide strategies through data on the touch screen, and also name-checking Battlefield in the system's online and social networking ability.
Nintendo claim Wii U as the fourth platform in its portfolio, sitting alongside Wii, DS and 3DS.
Other things to note: Nintendo mentioned a new Smash Bros game was in development for both Wii U and 3DS.
The GRTV team will be going hands-on with the unit shortly, and expect to see video impressions on the site soon.