Wii U, Nintendo's next game console, arrives in stores on November 18, just in time for the holiday sales madness. Wired's unit came in today, and although we can't show you what it looks like turned on, we can look at everything inside the box. And it's a lot of stuff.
Nintendo is releasing this new machine at a time when game consoles are facing stiff competition from new business models. Wii U is Nintendo's first high-definition gaming machine, but that's not the core element of the Japanese giant's plan to stay relevant. That is, as usual, to introduce crazy new ways of playing games that its competitors can't match. With Wii U, it's all about the GamePad, a massive controller featuring a touchscreen. It's adding a lot of the cost to the package, but the addition of a second screen is the killer feature for Wii U. How that gets used in games is all up to designers' imaginations (and Nintendo's ability to convince software makers to throw their lots in with Wii U).
Wii U will come in two configurations: a $300 standard package with a white console and GamePad, and the $350 "Deluxe Set," pictured here, which comes in black and includes among other extra goodies a copy of the NintendoLand game.
Why no hands-on impressions? Nintendo has placed an embargo on reviews until launch day, November 18. The reason why is likely because it is preparing a massive system firmware update for that day, which will add all of the major online functionality like streaming-video apps and the eShop for digital game purchases. We expect that Nintendo's working on polishing these experiences from now until launch. We will have impressions of early Wii U games in the days to come.
In the meantime: Here's what you'll find when you open up your Wii U box, including photos of the karaoke game Sing Party and its microphone, as well as the Wii U Pro Controller.