Nintendo is calling the successor to the popular Wii console the Nintendo Wii U. It has sold 86 million Wii consoles so far.
Remember when you first heard the name Nintendo Wii? Many people laughed and said it would never catch on. It did. Nintendo is hoping that Wii U will capture people's imaginations in the same way.
"You might remember how the Wii name began to make perfect sense once you started hearing it as Wii. It was clear how much fun we all had playing together," said Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime on the E3 stage earlier today.
"But in thinking about a new Nintendo system we knew the prevailing thought would be this: yes, the game would probably be right for all of us, but could it also be a perfect fit just for you.
"The answer to that question is an emphatic 'absolutely'. Today, welcome to the world of Wii U."
Wii U is the Wii logo we all know well, with a small blue U just to the right of it. It looks (and sounds) a bit weird, but we may well get used to it in time. So here's the new console - read on for more details on it and the revolutionary new controller.
Wii U UK release date
The Nintendo Wii U UK release date is pencilled in for April 2012.
Wii U UK price
Pricing is yet to be announced. But the fear is that, with the new controller, it may be a little too high.
Wii U is a Full HD, 1080p console
The new console will be fully HD compatible, unlike its predecessor.
EA boss John Riccitiello says that Wii U is a "stunning breakthrough" that "speaks directly to EA Sports games" and boasts "brilliant HD graphics."
"Imagine a shooter like Battlefield with jaw-dropping graphics and smooth animations from the Frostbite engine, brought to you on a Nintendo system with that brilliant controller… We can't wait to see EA games on this new system."
Wii U has a touchscreen controller
The controller for the Wii U is, as was rumoured a 6.2-inch touchscreen tablet that also features an accelerometer and gyroscope for motion control, dual analogue sticks, rumble feedback, a D-pad, a front-facing camera, triggers and shoulder buttons, start/select/home buttons and a microphone.
Each Wii U console will come with a new controller and can also use up to four additional Wii Remote or Wii Remote Plus controllers. The system is also backward compatible, and can play all Wii games and use all Wii accessories.
Can Nintendo disrupt the market - just as they did with the original Wii controller - yet again?
Wii U processor
According to IBM, Nintendo's Wii U is powered by a custom 45nm multi-core Power processor with embedded DRAM.
Says the company: "IBM's embedded dynamic random access memory will help deliver a thrilling new game experience to Nintendo fans. The new memory technology, a key element of the new Power microprocessor that IBM is building for the Nintendo Wii U console, can triple the amount of memory contained on a single chip, making for extreme game play."
Wii U graphics
Wii U's graphics carry on the ATI heritage of the Wii, with a custom AMD Radeon HD GPU reports Kotaku.
Wii U specifications and connectivity
It appears the original Wii's Gamecube controller compatibility will be binned. while there will be four USB ports under that hatch/at the rear and there will still be an SD card slot. There will also be some internal storage, though you'll be able to boost that by plugging in an external drive. And, as befits an HD console, there will be HDMI onboard, in addition to S-Video and component. Also expect 802.11n Wi-Fi.
Wii U disc format
We know Wii U will be backward compatible with all past Wii games, but we don't know for sure if there will be any upscaling - or indeed whether the unit will boast a Blu-ray or DVD drive.
However, a company exec has revealed that the system's proprietary disc format will hold up to 25GB of data, but it will not be compatible with Blu-ray. A mid-June 2011 report says that the Wii U's disc format won't be comp
You can play games solely on the Wii U touchscreen controller
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata agrees that the first Wii U demo video "may have answered some questions, but it probably raised several others, too".
But the key concept is clear - Nintendo hopes that you will be able to transfer the game you are playing on a TV screen in your home to the local screen, should you wish to play alone in your bedroom or study - perhaps if someone else needs the TV.
"Up until now, home console games had to occupy the TV screen in order to be played. But, the new controller for Wii U with 6.2-inch screen means you won't need to give up your gameplay when someone else comes in the room and wants to watch a TV programme."
Demos show that you can move your game from the TV to the screen in your hand almost immediately.
Games can also make use of both screens - there's an ace video of this in action where a girl is using the controller as the tee in a golf game while using a standard Wiimote to actually swing - it's at 3m30s.
Here's a pic of the controller in use for baseball:
So in single-player games the new controller can display information on its screen that does not appear on the TV, while the information and viewpoint can also change in the new controller based on the orientation of its gyroscope.
In multiplayer games the player using the new controller can have a different experience than those looking at the TV.
Wii U does video calling and more
It also looks like you will be able to make video-calls on the Wii U control pad, using its front-facing camera. Plus, you will be able to share content such as your holiday pictures and home videos from your local controller to the main television with ease.
Wii U is fully backward compatible with kit and games
Wii U is fully backward compatible, which means that you can play all of your current Wii games on the system and use your Wii Fit or any other accessories you currently use with it.
But Wii U's controller is not a standalone handheld console
The controller needs to be tethered to the Wii U console to function - it isn't a PlayStation Vita competitor.
Wii U games will be plentiful
"Wii U was created so that the widest variety of games can be supported," says Nintendo. "That means those aimed at experienced controllers that can use circle controllers using both their hands, plus those games that can be intuitively played without the need for any buttons."
Games design guru Shigeru Miyamoto says of Nintendo's new home console: "More than anything I'm really looking forward to new styles of play... There are so many we're just trying to decide where to begin."
Ninty announced new content based on its own franchises such as Mario (see below) and Zelda, but more interestingly, says our own Adam Hartley, "is that EA, Ubisoft, Sega and lots of other third party games developers were showing off new adult-themed, hardcore games that they are making for Nintendo's Wii U."
"Graphically, many of the games look on par with new AAA titles on PS3 or Xbox 360.
"Hardcore favourites such as Tekken, Assassin's Creed, Batman Arkham City and Ghost Recon Online were also demonstrated. Clearly, Nintendo aims to push Wii U to the hardcore crowd as well as to the casual market it has so successfully won over with Wii.
"EA boss John Riccitiello took to the Nintendo stage to tell the crowd that: 'Over the years I've made E3 appearances with several console partners, but never before with Nintendo.'"
Want to look back? Here are all the rumours we rounded up before the big announcement.
Considering PlayStation 4 rumours have little substance and Xbox 720 rumours are wispy at best, any revamped, upgraded, HD-friendly follow-up to the Wii would undoubtedly turn heads. And Wii sales finally show signs of decline, Nintendo needs a new console to maintain its momentum.
Our colleagues at T3.com have rounded up the latest rumours in the Wii 2 video below:
Enter 'Project Cafe': more than just a Wii HD
If the Wii 2 rumours are to be believed, then Nintendo's Project Café is more than just a high-def Wii. Game Informer started the rumour mill turning, citing the existence of an HD-ready Wii from mysterious 'multiple sources'. French website 01net.com then chipped in with the Project Café codename and suggested core specs that could eclipse those of the Xbox 360 and PS3.
Wii 2 specs could include a touchscreen display…
The 01net.com website has form - it previously leaked the specs of Sony's NGP handheld before the official reveal. So it's tempting to believe that the Wii 2 could indeed be powered by a three-core IBM Power PC chip, feature an ATI R700 GPU for 1080p/3D visuals and use a unique gamepad with a 6.2-inch touchscreen, dual analogue sticks and a built-in camera.
This machine would also be backward-compatible with the current Wii and its motion-sensing peripherals, enabling it to go head-to-head with Kinect and PlayStation Move.
Such a specification would make the Wii 2 faster than the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. But you'll note that it's hardly cutting-edge tech we're talking about here. In contrast, the components are proven, reliable and reasonably cheap. If this is the specification Nintendo opts for, it won't take two years to turn a profit on each Wii 2 sold.
It seems the Wii U will have the ability to support 3D games, but Nintendo won't be focusing on this feature when it is launched in 2012.
That's according to Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo – who was speaking to MercuryNews about its 3D capabilities.
"If you are going to connect Wii U with a home TV capable of displaying 3D images, technologically, yes, it is going to be possible, but that's not the area we are focusing on," he explained.
Goodbye Wii, hello 'Stream'?
There's a good chance that Nintendo's new console won't be called the Wii 2, Wii HD, Super Wii, 'Wii Wii' or any other variation of Wii. IGN has heard the name 'Stream', but it could be one of many names up for consideration.
Moving on from the Wii brand would make sense if Nintendo is building a powerful machine to win back hard-core Western gamers. Rather than recycle Wii Sports Resort and Just Dance in 1080p Full HD, Nintendo has its eye on greater 3rd-party software support. EDGE claims that "Ubisoft, Activision and Electronic Arts have had development units of the new hardware for months."
Of course, having AAA titles such as Mortal Kombat and LA Noire alongside a next-gen Mario Kart or Zelda on the Wii 2 isn't going to win Nintendo many converts. It will also need to revolutionise its online offering for the Wii 2 to be taken seriously as a credible gaming machine.
Wii 2 release date
With the Wii 2 set to be revealed at this year's E3, then it's possible that Nintendo could start rolling it out before Christmas. But given the complexity of a global console launch, early 2012 looks a more sensible bet. That would give Nintendo two years to rack up sales if Sony and Microsoft don't launch new consoles until 2014.
"Nintendo is doing this one right," an anonymous source told Game Informer. "[It's] not a gimmick like the Wii." The statement is a little harsh on the Wii, which opened up video gaming to a whole new demographic. Nintendo won't want to throw that all away.