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Six things you didn't know about Nintendo's Wii U

6:28 PM, Dec 16, 2012   |    comments
Nintendo's Wii U video game system.
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By now you're well aware that Nintendo has launched its next-generation video game console: the Wii U (from $299.99). You'll likely know about its tablet-like GamePad controller, focus on "asymmetrical" multiplayer gaming and support for older Nintendo Wii titles.

But even big Nintendo fans might not be privy to lesser-known Wii U facts and features. We caught up with Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of sales and marketing, to reveal a half-dozen, little-known goodies surrounding the Wii U.

It's all about Mii

Nintendo's new online network for the Wii U, called Miiverse, features an activity feed that will eventually be accessed through web-enabled devices such as smartphones, explains Moffitt. "This lets users check on the status of their friends' activities in games, even if they are away from the console." The name is a mash-up of Mii Universe.

Second that

Netflix is available on the Wii U. Its GamePad controller enables multiple viewing options, letting users view a movie or TV show streaming from Netflix on the TV while browsing for something to watch next on the GamePad, says Moffitt. Alternatively, a more intimate viewing experience lets users watch Netflix on the Wii U GamePad while the TV is used to watch something else.

Control freak

The GamePad also has a TV button, which allows it to act as a remote control for the TV. You can change channels or turn the volume up and down, without turning on the Wii U console. The GamePad also features NFC (Near Field Communication) technology, allowing for "a variety of interesting new possibilities for games and activities," says Moffitt.

Just face it

New to the Wii U is Video Chat, which connects the living rooms of families and friends, far or near. "The availability of two screens - TV and Wii U GamePad - allows players to share the experience with the whole family." The application is seamlessly integrated into the Wii U with the Wii U GamePad providing camera input. The service is free.

Game on

Nintendo wanted to find a way to bring classic Nintendo franchises together in a virtual theme park and to start demonstrating the gaming magic of the Wii U GamePad. The result is Nintendo Land, which includes attractions such as Donkey Kong's Crash Course, Luigi's Ghost Mansion, Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest and Takamaru's Ninja Castle.

The future is friendly

Many games are in development for the Wii U. Project P-100 (working title), for example, is a new "mass hero" action game from Platinum Games. "Earth is under attack from an invasion of enormous aliens, and the only thing that can protect the planet is a group of unlikely, yet mighty, heroes with special abilities," explains Moffitt. "Unfortunately, the aliens are too powerful for the heroes to fight individually - they must join forces and work together to defeat their common enemy." These uniquely different heroes can morph into powerful weapons to crush the invaders or turn into objects like a giant fist or bridge to interact with and traverse the environments.

Another little-known Wii U game in the works is Game & Wario (working title): Wario and his Diamond City friends are back in action with a collection of games that use only the Wii U GamePad controller. The games will retain the original flair and character of the micro-games from the WarioWare series.

- by Marc Saltzman, USA TODAY

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