Nintendo Wii U First Takes: Odds Are Stacked against the Japanese Gaming Giant

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By Erik Pineda | November 19, 2012 6:50 PM EST

Rowing against the tide, Nintendo launched the Wii U Nov 18, hopeful that gamers the world over will plunk down some cash for an upgrade of the experience that conquered the world six years ago.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata is very much aware that the global gaming landscape has been altered and most of the casual crowd that the original Wii had lured back in 2006 have gone mobile.

Nintendo now competes not only with other gaming consoles such as Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 but also with smartphones and tablet computers, which global consumers use as their all-in-one mobile gadgets.

These two are the gaming platform of the future and according to The Wall Street Journal, citing data from Gartner, more than two billion mobile devices would be in consumers' hands over the next four years, purportedly to be used both as communication and amusement tools.

Mr Iwata told WSJ that the new Wii U represents what the present market dictates. With a price that starts at $US300, Nintendo ported its new console with more powerful hardware specs, ramped up its entertainment line-up by adding up TV and online video streaming functions and provided users with some semblance of mobility.

To navigate through games on Wii U, users can now use the new GamePad, which also serves as the console's second screen (or third if buyers would get an extra one). Functions of the tablet-like GamePad include providing a separate window for a player if the main monitor is on use.

Nintendo is pushing forward, Mr Iwata said, affirming that "changes that have taken place over the last few years are massive."

Tech experts noted that the Wii U's refreshed hardware serves as its strongest allure at the moment but 10 notable things have been cited too by Forbes as big reasons for buyers to go and get the new product.

Forbes is harping about the new games that will debut with the console, all 29 of them but 10 stand out, namely Nintendo Land, ZombiU, Rayman Legends, Sonic & All-Star Racing Transformed, Skylanders Giants, New Super Mario Bros U, NBA 2K13, Black Ops 2, Disney Epic Mickey 2 and FIFA Soccer 13.

These sort of reasons, which by themselves have generated significant amount of excitement, further convinced Mr Iwata on staying the same course and shun the mobile market, which the biggies are chasing.

"We think it's the least cool thing to start doing something just because other people are making money doing it," the Nintendo head told WSJ.

"History will decide whether we're right ... Or whether the people who say we're old fashioned are correct," he added.

But the one thing that will define that history now deals with launch issues as CNET reported that TVii service, pledged by Nintendo to rollout with Wii U from day one, will only be accessed by North American audience starting December 2012.

The hiccup, according to CNET, promises to be a big blow is not addressed soon enough since TVii is one of the strongest features of the Wii U release and without it the console backslides into just another gaming platform.

And nothing new can be seen from the product, the tech site added, citing for instance the GamePad, which it dismissed as short of revolutionary and "feels like a souped-up 3DS."

The only bright moment for Wii U at the moment is the spectre of playing classic Nintendo games in HD like Mario but beyond that "it's going to be tough to recommend the Wii U to anyone who already owns a PS3 or Xbox 360," CNET observed on its first impression of the gadget.

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