E3 2011: Nintendo Outs New ‘Wii U’ Console, 6-inch Touchscreen Controller

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Nintendo has announced its new console, "Wii U."

The controller is the big draw here, with a built-in 6.2-inch touchscreen that you can use to either augment a game you’re playing on your TV or as the primary display for whatever you’re playing. So if someone wants to watch TV, for instance, you can keep playing your game on the controller. You’ll also be able to use the controller’s screen for video chatting with friends.

Games that use the controller alongside your TV screen will be able to make use of the extended-screen concept to provide unique gaming experiences.

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime gave the example of two players playing a shooting game wherein one player is shooting at things on the ground, while the other is in a jet up above the ground and looking down on the action below using the controller’s screen.

EA Sports showed a demo of Madden football, too, and touted the controller’s ability to show play-calling data and stats while keeping the main TV screen unobstructed for high-definition gameplay.

The Wii U console will be backwards-compatible with all currently-available Wii games and peripherals—it’s slated for launch in 2012 although a specific date hasn’t been given. Pricing hasn’t been revealed either, but if you thought the Wii Remote and Nunchuk were expensive at $60, you’ll probably want to be sitting down when Nintendo announces pricing for the new one.

We’ll have a full hands-on with the new Wii U system coming up shortly.

Follow-up: E3 2011: Hands-On with Nintendo’s New ‘Wii U’

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In a post-conference interview, Fils-Aime added the following information:

- Old Wii games won’t get up-scaled to HD on the Wii U—they’ll appear as they do on the Wii—but new games will be in 1080p high-definition

- The Wii U console’s resolution is 1080p (no word on the controller screen’s resolution yet, though it’s unlikely 1080p)

- Wii U is indeed a new console—it’s not just a new controller for the Wii

- It is NOT a portable gaming device—the controller needs the console in order to function

- Wii U will be available "after March 31st" of 2012

- The controller will have its own internet browser and wireless connection (I’d guess you might be able to buy other simple, tablet-style apps that run solely on the controller)

And here are some photos of the console that Evan took:

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