Game Room: November Roundup

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Wii U
Photo: Nintendo

Wii U

Manufacturer: Nintendo

In 2006, the Wii's motion controls were a revolution to video gaming, but its standard-def graphics were a real turnoff to plenty of consumers wanting to get the most out of their HDTVs. Nintendo finally got the message and is now launching the Wii U, its first console capable of 1080p HD video. Nintendo is again attempting to innovate past the current HD consoles by launching the Wii U with a unique primary controller, the GamePad.

There's a lot functionality baked into the 1.1 pound wireless GamePad, including a 6.2 inch 854x480 LCD screen, a front-facing camera, accelerometer, gyroscope, rumble support, speakers, mic, two control sticks, a d-pad, two shoulder buttons, two rear trigger buttons, and six face buttons. The screen doesn't look as nice as most tablets on the market, but it gets the job done. Depending on the game, the GamePad sometimes serves a second screen with supplemental functionality, but it can also be the primary screen with your TV in use and the Wii U unit powered on. When playing a game only on the GamePad -- in detached mode -- you have to stay within 20-25 feet of the console. All the features and functionality of the GamePad come at a price paid in battery life, which averages below four hours per charge. The GamePad controller has a glossy finish, which serves as magnet for finger-prints and smudges.

Wii U will be backwards compatible with Wii games, but none of them will work with the GamePad. You'll have to use Wii Remotes, which you'll need anyway for most multiplayer games. Be sure to pay attention when buying games to see which controllers are compatible. In addition to the GamePad, Nintendo has released a Pro controller (sold separately for $50), that's similar to the Xbox 360 and PS3 controller.

Wii U review continued next page...

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