On Thursday, Nintendo officially announced online that its new Wii U game console will be on sale starting on November 18th in the USA and November 30th in Europe, while the sale in Japan will be on Dec. 8th. The company said the new console will be in time for the crucial holiday season, available in two versions: 8GB internal memory version at $299.99 and 32GB internal memory version for $344.99.
The new Wii U game console could meantime be used as a home entertainment center while connected with streaming services. It allows users to stream video content from Hulu, Amazon and Netflix to their TV sets. The touchpad will show additional content, such as box scores and statistics for sports broadcasts, a timeline of key moments for TV shows, and previews for movie services.
Both versions of the Wii U come with a single "GamePad", which is similar to a full-fledged handheld console in itself, with a touchscreen, motion detection, camera and stylus. Its small screen can be used to supplement games played on a larger TV or serve as the main display.
In game demonstrations, the company showed how the controller can be used for two-player gaming, with one user playing on the main TV screen and another on the GamePad. The main console will use NFC (near field communication) technology that is widely used in mobile payment systems, as well as an expanded online system that includes game play and social networks based around various titles.
Wii U specs:
CPU: IBM POWER7-based multi-core processor
GPU: Custom AMD Radeon High Definition GPU (GPGPU Support)
RAM: 2GB Total; 1GB for games and 1GB for System Software.
Basic: 8GB, Premium: 32GB Internal flash memory, expandable via SD memory cards and USB hard disk drives.
Slot-loading optical disc drive compatible with 12 cm "proprietary high-density optical discs" (25 GB per layer) and 12 cm Wii optical discs
Ports and peripheral capabilities
SD memory card slot (supports SDHC cards)
USB 2.0 ports (2 at front of console, 2 at rear)
Sensor Bar power port
"AV Multi Out" port
HDMI 1.4 out port
Wii U GamePad specs
Built-in 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope and a magnetic sensor
Stereo Speakers and Microphone
IR Sensor strip
6.2 inch (15.7 cm) 16:9 resistive touchscreen
Two clickable analog sticks and one D-pad
Select, Start, Home and Power buttons
A/B/X/Y face buttons, L/R bumper buttons and ZL/ZR trigger buttons
Controller sync button
Wireless communication with console based on IEEE 802.11n
Note: The Wii U is also compatible with the Wii Remote Plus, Wii Nunchuk, Classic Controller, and the Wii Balance Board.
1080p, 1080i, 720p, 576i (PAL Only), 480p, 480i, standard 4:3 and 16:9 anamorphic widescreen
"AV Multi Out" port supporting composite video, YPBPR component video, S-Video (NTSC consoles only), RGB SCART (European consoles only) and D-Terminal (Japan only)
HDMI 1.4 out port supporting stereoscopic 3D images.
Audio: "AV Multi Out" port. Six-channel PCM linear output through HDMI
As for the games, the Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime stressed that the console will have a full complement of games early in its launch. The lack of games available for Nintendo's 3DS handheld launch last year was a major reason that device stumbled after it went on sale, forcing the game company to slash prices. He said over 50 games would be available from the launch through the end of March 2013, such as a new version of its classic "Super Mario Brothers" franchise, "Metroid", "Call of Duty Black Ops 2," a "Transformer" title, the successor to the "Bayonetta" combat game, etc.
The game company has long tried to market its hardware at less extreme gamers, featuring family play and titles aimed at women. But the titles show it also intends to pursue the "hard-core" game market along with rivals Sony and Microsoft.
The ability to use the Wii U as a home entertainment center means Nintendo will compete with companies like Sony, which has emphasized its networked music and video offerings' availability through its PlayStation franchise.