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Nintendo’s flagship gaming console, the aging Nintendo Wii, is due for an upgrade really soon, and a big one at that. The replacement, named "Wii U", announced at E3 today, delivers features that will significantly change the gaming experience for users, including high-definition video, finally.

Wii U

According to Nintendo’s president, Wii has always stood for "We", or how the console can be enjoyed by many people together, while "U", or "You", stands for how the console can be enjoyed by someone individually. Quite an interesting marketing ploy, I know, but here’s what you need to know about the new console.

The Wii U, similarly to the original Wii, is comprised by two parts: the controller and the console itself. The latter has remained fairly unaltered, despite the smaller form factor and slightly sleeker design. The Wii Remote, as the controller is called, is gone. Instead, the company replaced it with a large tablet-like device with a large 6-inch touch screen:

Wii U (1)

The new controller also sports a front-facing camera, an accelerometer, gyroscope, a stylus (for those who think those are old-fashioned) and yes, dual analog controllers. There are also navigation controls along the bottom.

What’s perhaps even more remarkable about the controller is its ability to work independently from the main console. If the TV is off, a full-featured version of the game will be displayed on the controllers 6-inch instead, while data is quietly and wirelessly transferred back and forth between the console and the controller. Nintendo stresses that the Wii U is not a portable gaming device, since the remote needs to periodically communicate with the main console, but it’s pretty darn close!

As much as this might appeal to users, I have the feeling many will miss the older, less intrusive remote, which is now history. The Wiimote was particularly interesting, since it would often force users to move around in order to play the game effectively, a capability that many other makers later copied (PlayStation Move, anyone?). While the new controller sports an accelerometer and gyroscope, which would in theory enhance motion controls by a lot, the touch screen and extra features will likely make it heavier. If you’re a fan of the old remote, however, you might be happy to know that the Wii U will support all current-generation accessories.

Either way, this is a great advancement for Nintendo, and a much-needed upgrade to the Wii console, which hadn’t been significantly touched since 2006. The Wii U will be available sometime in 2012, although no release date has been set.

(Videos credit: Engadget)

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