E3 2011: Hands-on with Wii U tablet and games

Following Nintendo's E3 press conference, we were able to get hands-on time with the Wii U tablet and games.

Sarah Tew

Earlier this morning Nintendo introduced the Wii U, the successor to the Wii. Think of the Wii U as a sort of DS and Wii hybrid, combining touch and motion controls, with an on-screen HD gaming experience.

We were lucky enough to get some hands-on time with a collection of Wii U game demos and time with the tablet controller; here are our impressions.

The Wii U tablet's screen is astonishingly bright and detailed, allowing for both stylus and touch inputs. The controller itself is lighter than we thought it would be and the rear Z triggers fit snugly in our hands.

We got a glimpse of the Wii U console too, which appears to be a slightly bulkier but rounded Wii console. It was hidden behind a plastic window, so we can't attest to its actual dimensions.

As mentioned earlier, we had a generous amount of hands-on time with some Wii U games:

Battle Mii: In this sort of hide-and-seek game, the player using the Wii U tablet flies a spacecraft hunting down Mii characters sporting Metroid-inspired armor. The Wii U tablet's tilt capabilities are used to aim and each thumbpad is responsible for moving the aircraft while the Z triggers control zoom and firing. In practice the game was enjoyable, encouraging the Wii remote players to communicate and strategize against the tablet player.

Sarah Tew

Chase Mii: In Chase Mii, up to four players with Wii remotes must hunt down and tackle the tablet player. Four quadrants divide a maze-inspired map with the tablet player having the advantage of a 15-second start and being able to see the entire map showing all players' locations.

New Super Mario Bros. Mii: The first HD Mario Bros. game looks fantastic, but played exactly like New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Of course Mii characters can be imported and played in-game. Here, the Wii U tablet simply mirrors the game, showing how easy it is to instantly pick up the game if a TV isn't readily available.

Overall, we're impressed with the innovative uses of the Wii U tablet. The graphics on its screen are sharp and clear, and we were surprised by how much of a separate experience it provides away from the TV screen. The HD graphics are great, but saying the picture "trumps" current-generation consoles is inaccurate.

We'll have many more hands-on impressions and thoughts as E3 2011 continues.

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