We’re all wondering what Nintendo is going to do with the Wii U. I mean, the console looks interesting, but it also is perplexing as well. Especially since we haven’t had much time to see it in action. That will all be changing soon. Not only is a prototype version of the console appearing at CES 2012, but it will also definitely be appearing in peoples’ homes before 2012 ends. Nintendo has just confirmed that it will definitely be released in Japan this year, hopefully sometime after June and before the end of December.
Coincidentally, E3 2012 fits comfortably in that release window. Which could mean the Wii Us we see at the conference this year will be final builds and not demonstration units. Pretty exciting stuff! Also, with that large a launch window, it could mean the Wii U may see a worldwide release before 2012 ends.
The Wii U is the next Nintendo console and will have quite a bit in common with the Wii. It will play all Wii games and work with all previous Wii controllers and accessories. However, there are some major differences. For example, the main Wii U controller, seen above, looks more like a touchscreen tablet. It also lacks GameCube backwards compatibility when it comes to physical media, which means we may have to wait and see if GameCube games are released as downloads. It is also going to be an HD system, with 1080p graphics, and will allow players to play without a TV at times, using the tablet controller’s touchscreen as a screen.
My guess is, we’ll hear something more about the Wii U at the Nintendo Direct conference. It’s the second such conference and last time provided a means for Nintendo to talk about what it wanted to do with the 3DS mainly, with also a little bit about the DS and Wii. I’m sure the December 27, 2011 Japanese conference will focus on 3DS, DS and Wii games, with perhaps some Wii U tidbits tossed in for good measure. It will start at 12pm (JST) and be streamed at the Nintendo Direct website. It’ll probably be in Japanese without subtitles, so it may be smarter to just wait for a recap later.