So, Nintendo. Love them, hate them or be completely indifferent to them, they have a couple systems out this generation that are causing all kinds of buzz.
The successor to the Wii, the WiiU's central feature is that it's default controller, the GamePad, features a tablet-esque screen in the middle of the device, allowing for DS-style gameplay experiences when coupled with your TV and Off-TV play for those moments that you can't use the TV. Nintendo has also demonstrated the controller as a sort of "Game Master" style interface for multiplayer experiences, manipulating the game world while friends play normally with either remotes or controller pros.
The system still supports the Wii remote for gameplay, and even features a sensor bar located in the GamePad for utilizing both devices.
The GamePad includes not only the screen interface, but NFC, microphone, speakers, camera, motion sensors, headphone jack and, of course, now-traditional game control interfaces: Dual analog sticks, D-Pad, four face buttons, two pairs of shoulder buttons, Start, Select and a Home Button. The device also functions as a universal TV remote, to take advantage of the "TVii" service.
It's basically a GamePad with the screen, NFC, mic, speakers, etc. removed.
The Classic Wii remote: A motion sensing wand that allows for motion-control gaming.
The WiiU is backwards compatible as far back as the Wii via a special channel, with Virtual Console support included within the Wii Channel, with Native WiiU Virtual console support coming soon. For games a person already owns, these titles will cost a dollar or couple dollars to upgrade to the WiiU version, which will feature GamePad support, customizable controls, save states and MiiVerse communities. It will also include Game Boy Advance titles to be added to the library, along with NES, Super NES and other systems coming later.
First Off: Friendcodes are gone. Nintendo has moved on to the standard Username account system and have integrated that with what they call "MiiVerse" a Nintendo Social Network about all the games and apps available within the WiiU's ecosystem. Finding a friend can be as easy as knowing their name, searching for them in MiiVerse and sending a friend request. No code exchange necessary.
The WiiU's online multiplayer is a free service, like on the PS3 and most PC games. Grab a game, hop into multiplayer and carry on. It also features SpotPass, which allows the WiiU to automatically download updates over WiFi.
Nintendo's eShop has made it from from the 3DS to the WiiU, with the ability to buy online-only titles and digital releases of retail games (as supported by publisher).
Nintendo's two SKU's both have onboard storage, 8GB for the Basic Unit and 32GB for the Deluxe model. They allow for storage expansion via SDHC and external hard drives, with the latter being supported up to 2TB via USB 2.0 [3.0 drives are supported, but only work at 2.0 speed]
The US currently has Three bundles:
Comes with the system, GamePad+charger and Sensor Bar, along with power supply and HDMI cable
Includes system, AC Adapters, Charge Cradle for GamePad, Gamepad stand, system stands, Sensor Bar, HDMI cable and an eShop discount program.
Section coming soon
The question now is, Where does the WiiU fit in the upcoming Console market? The system is said by many to not be as advanced as the upcoming offerings from Sony or Microsoft, so many have surmised that will repeat the past of the Wii: A lower power system that will see little 3rd Party support as developers flock to the newer systems; at best, a home for Nintendo first party titles with little else. Lately, the Wii U has seen abysmal January sales and it's formerly exclusive Rayman Legends has seen a controversial delay from the end of February to September along with ports coming to the 360 and PS3.
Will the Wii U be a success? If so, in what way. If not, how so? And even in the midst of all this, what possibilities does the GamePad open up for gaming?