At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past week I had a chance to test out Nintendo’s new gaming system the Wii U, a gaming console that at first glance looks exactly like original Wii, but is actually way cooler with a large touchscreen controller.
Okay, I was probably one of many journalists that Nintendo invited up to its suite for a private one-on-one meeting to test the new device that was announced late last year, but is expected to go on sale later this year.
With complete full disclosure, I only agreed to visit Nintendo because my youngest son really wanted me to get the scoop on the new system, and gaming is growing rapidly in this connected world. But I have to admit, I really enjoyed learning about the new gaming system.
First and foremost, I am not a gamer. I don’t pretend to be one. However, I have spent my fare share on systems and games for my three children. So I am well aware of Zelda, Mario Brothers, and Wii Sports.
Couple that with being the founder of tech magazine and I think I can hold my own with the true gamers of the world—at least when it comes to talking up tech. In fact, when I did come home from CES, it was probably the first time I was able to see my youngest son stay engaged during a dinner conversation. He was truly excited to hear about the new device. So Nintendo, you instantly scored high marks with a true gamer, as I explained the new system which basically revolves around a new controller with its own screen.
Now keep in mind the device I tried, as well as my staff, is still being tweaked by Nintendo so by the time it’s released who knows what the Wii U will be able to do. In addition to a new system is the new controller which has a pretty nifty 6.2-inch touchscreen that interacts wirelessly with the main console. The controller has motion detection when moving it up and down, or tilting it side by side.
As I said at the outset, I’m not a gamer, so I brought my older son who is a good gamer to get his insights on this new system. At first glance, we both thought it was a nice improvement over the original Wii to see a separate screen on a controller. In fact, the more I watched my son play the more he was totally at ease with using the controller.
I tried to play the “Chase Mii” demo game of where two or even four characters on the screen try to catch each other using the Wii remote or the controller depending on the game. And it was oh so obvious I was out of my element as a gamer.
While I could play, it was clear, my son was comfortable moving the controller and manipulating the characters around the maze like a champion. Even though he was being chased by the Nintendo gamers playing against him, he outpaced them every time. He brought his game and proved he was a real gamer. Then he played a game with the new Wii controller flying around as a space ship to shoot other players who are on the ground using the motion detection of the new remote to fly. Talk about sensors and tech all coming together here using different screens. It was great. My son took the Nintendo gamers to task.
It’s pretty clear Nintendo is taking its graphics to the next level, as demonstrated by sneak peek at the future Zelda game. The main gameplay will still reside on your TV, but now gamers will also be able to bring gaming to their controllers so others can watch and then send back to even participate. What will Nintendo think of next for next-generation gamers?