9:50pm

Tue June 7, 2011
All Tech Considered

At E3, Nintendo Unveils New Wii

Today was the official start of E3 in Los Angeles. The biggest announcement of the day — and likely the week — was the new Nintendo console. The Japanese gaming company changed the way people play video games with its last console, the Wii. The Wii brought millions of casual gamers into an entertainment format many had never tried before. The company looks to bring serious gamers back with the new system.

The controller is the main attraction. It's smaller than a tablet, but gamers can perform similar functions on its 6.2-inch touch screen. The Wii U controller also has the Classic Nintendo Controller button scheme, with arrows and a joystick. It displays information that's not on the TV, so you can have maps, weapons or tools and other game play options displayed separately. It has a gyroscope, as well, so as the player moves the controller, the viewpoint moves. Other features include an inward-facing camera, a microphone and speakers. It also has a stylus so gamers can write on the controller like a tablet — or they can put it on the table and play games there, wiping and swiping pieces across the board like a traditional board game, for example.

There will be full HD support for graphics, something new for Wii. The use of motion sensors, which the original console introduced, are further advanced with the new controller. For example, imagine playing golf: You use the original stick-like Wii controller as your club, but put the new pad-like controller on the floor and it serves as your tee. And, swing! Fore!

Again, like the PlayStation Vita yesterday, the new device seeks to create an interactive, immersive environment between the game console, the TV and the Internet.

Nintendo also announced plans to celebrate Zelda's 25th anniversary — the press conference started with an orchestra playing the game's iconic theme. Though, not to be outdone, Mario — and Luigi — also made appearances. Mario Kart was announced for the 3DS, Nintendo's 3-D handheld. It's an all-new game for the 3DS and has Mario flying around, going underwater, gathering coins. Luigi's Mansion2 was also announced — a sequel to the GameCube game.

The company did not announce pricing for the new console, but it will be available sometime between April and December 2012.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.