After a year and change of sluggish sales, Nintendo (NTDOY) hopes its new console -- Wii U -- will win gamers over.
Ahead of this week's E3 conference, Nintendo has unveiled the new tablet-like controller that it hopes will revolutionize the way video games are played.
The Wii U GamePad is a new game controller that features both traditional analog controls and a features-rich touchscreen in the middle.
Nintendo has given gamers two screens to play with before: The portable 3DS and 3DSi feature dual screens.
However, the limitation there is that the distance between the two screens is fixed. The possibilities between a touchscreen that is portable and the larger TV where the games are played are endless. In teasing the possibilities, Nintendo shows a golfing game where the GamePad is on the floor displaying the actual golf ball in a sandy bunker. The moment the gamer swings the traditional Wii motion-based controller, the ball clears out in a sea of dust.
Another example of the GamePad's dual screen utility is its effectiveness in two-player sport games. Since the GamePad screen's actions can differ from what's being displayed on the screen, players can secretly select baseball pitches or call football plays in private.
Wii U Also Wants to Be a TV star
The original Wii didn't win gamers on its spec sheet. Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox 360 and Sony's (SNE) PS3 packed superior processing power.
The Xbox and PlayStation consoles also performed double duty as home theater appliances. The Xbox plays DVDs, while the PS3 plays both Blu-ray discs and DVDs.
Now Nintendo is hoping to raise the stakes by making its GamePad controller an infrared TV remote. Even if the Wii U isn't turned on, the new GamePad can be fired up to perform as a programmable TV remote control.
Speed Is Everything
Sony and Microsoft are probably at least a year away from updating their Xbox 360 and PS3 platforms, giving Nintendo a head start in the battle for supremacy in the next generation of systems.
Things won't be easy. Hardware and software sales have been struggling through most of the past three years, and it usually takes a few years for a new platform before it builds a large enough audience to move the needle.
However, Nintendo is definitely turning heads this week with where it sees the direction of interactive gaming. Now it's simply a matter of waiting to see what Microsoft and Sony can do to top it.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Microsoft and Nintendo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft.
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