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Wii U: All U need to know

So you've seen the crazy new controller for Nintendo's next console, the Wii U; but what about the details, the console itself, and the games? Let us enlighten you. First, the console. It looks, essentially, like a chubby Wii, and is clearly designed to be used lying flat (which is how we always thought the Wii should be used anyway). We don't know much about how powerful it is, but we do know that the main processor is made by IBM - and they say that it's the same 'Watson' processor that beat a bunch of flesh-n-blood humans on the US quiz show Jeopardy last year. Nintendo claim it'll be as powerful as a PS3 or XBox 360, which might not be powerful enough, given how cheap those consoles now are.

What about the games? Well, the software shown off at the E3 conference in the US this week falls into two categories: Nintendo's own, and third-party titles. It seems that Nintendo plans to carry on the Wii heritage of lots of fun, simple in-house games, but use the extra power to ensure more, better ports of third-party software.

On the Nintendo front, there's a trio of fun mini-games which we can see making their way into some sort of included pack, possibly under the Mario Party stable. These include Chase Mii and Blast Mii, which both work in a similar way: one player has the new controller and watches the action on the screen, while others play using regular WiiMotes and the TV. In Chase Mii, for example, the player with the new controller has to run away and the players watching the TV have to chase. The flee-er has a map showing everyone's position, but those watching the TV can't work out where they are unless they spot them.

The other Nintendo game, Shield Pose, is amusingly described by tech journalist Paul Miller thus: 'It’s a seriously dumb rhythm game, with kind of a lame mechanic — in theory. In practice, this thing is sheer joy. Basically you have to “catch” arrows shot at you by pirates using the Wii U controller. But you have to do this to a beat, and you have to move the screen to certain predefined spots in a specific order called out by the lead pirate. It’s sort of like Simon meets hunting for a cellphone signal.'

Sounds fun. What about the third-party games? Well, enjoy this video of Chase Mii gameplay, and we'll tell you about the third-party games in the next post.

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