While Nintendo did not have a presence on the show floor at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, a team of company representatives held court in the adjoining The LVH Hotel showing off the much anticipated Nintendo Wii U to invited guests, including yours truly. Though I'm certainly no hardcore gamer -- not with my fist full of thumbs -- the chance to see what all of the hubbub is about was far too good to pass up. So, did the Wii U live up to the hype? Yeah, pretty much, though there are still plenty of question marks.
Wheeeee! Wii U is coming
The good news for fans of the original Wii is that the Wii U is completely backward compatible. All of your games, and all of your controllers and accessories, will work just fine with the Wii U. Of course, the internals are drastically upgraded, with a more powerful processor and more capable graphics, allowing for full 1080p resolution -- something that Nintendo says is the most requested upgrade by existing Wii users.
The new touchpad tablet controller might look a little intimidating compared to the traditional and very simple controllers used with the original Wii, but it is remarkably easy and intuitive to use with its logical layout and motion action. The tablet provides a second look into the gaming action, and the proof of concept games that Nintendo used to demonstrate that capability left little doubt as to its potential appeal. That said, those who want the simple game play and lower cost of the original Wii will still be able to buy one for quite some time after the Wii U is released, Nintendo said.
So, when you will be able to take the Wii U home, and how much you can expect to pay for the privilege? Nintendo made clear that those details wouldn't be discussed at its demonstration, though comments made it pretty obvious that it would not be available for sale before this June's E3 show. At the same time, it was said that the goal is to have it out by the end of the year -- meaning it could be the hot gift when the holiday shopping season rolls around again.