A select few tech bloggers got a chance to test Nintendo's new console, the Wii U, early this week at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) — and the reviews are mixed. When a prototype was first introduced at last year's E3, fans were taken aback by the system's bizarrely large controller — officially called the Wii U Gamepad — which looks like a bulky tablet that combines a joystick and buttons with a touchscreen in its center. The Gamepad has its virtues, though: You can use the giant controller's screen to play titles independently like a tethered Game Boy, or even to augment the display on your TV (calling up an overhead map, for instance, to chart your position in a first-person shooter game). When the original Wii was released in 2006, it also featured a puzzling new controller that went on to win over fans. Could the "quirky" Wii U and its Gamepad do the same?
Yes. The Wii U is going to be huge: This "might just be Nintendo's best console since [1990's] Super NES," says Steve Boxer at Britain's The Guardian. All three games that Nintendo let us sample "were brilliant, and highlighted the console's unprecedented ability to shape-shift and support a wide variety of games, from side-scrollers such as a new Super Mario Bros. title to a mindless ninja-star throwing game called Takemaru's Ninja Castle. The system's Gamepad, which responds to everything from flicks to swipes, may seem daunting at first, but once gamers get their hands on it, they'll figure out how it works.
"Wii U at E3 2012: first hands-on"
Probably not: The Wii U doesn't possess "the immediately brilliant appeal of swinging a game controller to bowl a bowling ball," says Stephen Totilo at Kotaku. The HD graphics look amazing, and some of the games are fun (although the new Super Mario Bros. sadly underwhelms), but with no real standout titles to "fall in love with," it's hard to see the Wii U becoming a "global phenomenon" like the original Wii did.
"Hands-on with the Wii U, Nintendo's risky new revolution"
It's actually not that different from the competition: "By the time the Wii U hits stores this fall, it may be part of a general trend towards multiple-screen gaming interfaces," says Harry McCracken at TIME. Apple's iOS with Apple TV and AirPlay achieves a similar effect using the iPad and iPhone. And Sony announced that its handheld PlayStation Vita will soon work as a touchscreen controller for the PlayStation 3. "For now, though, nobody is taking the concept as far as Nintendo" with the Wii U. But if it's going to succeed, it'll need games that "deliver on its promise."
"Hands on with the Wii U, Nintendo's next-generation game console"