E3 2011: Hands-on time with Nintendo's Wii U leaves us wanting more

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At this year's E3, we had a chance to go hands-on with Nintendo's newly announced console Wii U. This "sequel" to the Wii will allow you to combine the now established WiiMote motion control scheme with the use of the new touch-pad enabled controller. Via our time with the Wii U in Nintendo's booth, we were shown multiple technical demonstrations that each worked to highlight one particular aspect about the Wii U that should make it stand out from a now heavily populated crowd.

A simple touch screen demonstration pitted myself against another player, as we were asked to complete basic tasks using the stylus on the controller's touch screen. Commands such as "Draw a line that is 2.5 inches long," or "Draw a circle with a diameter of 3 inches" suddenly became very tense and difficult to complete. It was in this demo that we learned how to better take in the controller's large screen size.

Other demos showed off working levels in a new Super Mario Brothers Wii U title (that we weren't allowed to photograph or film), and the use of the Wii U controller as a sort of secondary menu in a Legends of Zelda demo. Where we did really dive into the meat of these demos though was in the Chase Mii and HD Graphical demonstrations, which you can learn more about behind the break.

For the Chase Mii demo, we were shown just how the new Wii U controller can work in a multiplayer environment, as other players use traditional Wii Remotes. The demo (not really a game, as it apparently isn't being developed for any release) required five players to work, and saw one player being "it," sort of like in a game of tag. The active player would be given the Wii U controller, which displayed two things: their positioning on a geometric map, and an overhead camera angle view that showed the location of all four pursuers. Here's the catch: those four pursuers could only see a small section of the screen, which was split into four quadrants. They didn't have access to the entire overhead map, introducing teamwork to the mix, as the player that was being hunted would definitely have an advantage otherwise. You can see the demo in action in our video below:


As for the final demo of note, it was more of a technical demonstration than anything truly interactive, as it was set to show off the console's new HD graphics. The demo was split into two sections: a bird would fly around a beautiful landscape as the seasons changed. Leaves or flowers would fall into water, the bird would become covered with snow or the snow would simply fall through the air, and the whole while the Wii U controller is displaying a different area of the landscape for your to take in visually. As you move the controller from left to right, the image on the controller changes in real time, just as if you were actually standing outside and moving to take in all of your surroundings at once. Again, we have a video of this demo for you to check out here:


All told, our time with the Nintendo Wii U may have been lengthy, but it also left us wanting more. Of all of the demos we saw / got our hands-on, the Chase Mii demo was definitely the most fun, but the fact that most of the work was done with original WiiMotes was a bit concerning. Still, the ability to play full games on the Wii U's screen, rather than on your TV screen is an impressive sight considering this new high definition graphical fidelity. There's still plenty of time for Nintendo to wow us with more before the Wii U's unannounced release date, and you can believe we'll be there every step of the way as we learn more.

What do you think of these first images and videos of the Wii U console in action? Were you impressed by Nintendo's showing at this year's E3, or do you think they've missed the mark entirely for the direction their new console should be taking? Sound off in the comments.
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