Nintendo's Wii U has been unveiled at E3. We detail the specs and sift through the rumours to speculate on when it will launch in the UK.
Updated, 8 June 2011: Nintendo has unveiled a prototype of the Wii U (formerly known as Project Cafe) at the E3 gaming show, detailing many of the specs, showing off the expected touchscreen controllers and giving some lucky attendees a chance to try out some demos (rather than full games) on the console. See also PS4 release date, specs and rumour round-up.
So despite the headline, a lot of the following information isn't really rumour at all - it's 100 percent Wii U fact, direct from the horse's mouth. We'll move on to the rumours later, as we consider when the Wii U will launch and further details that Nintendo has kept to itself.
Wii U? So it's not called Wii 2 then?
No. You didn't really expect it to, did you? And of course Nintendo has come up with a cutesy explanation for the new name: Wii U - it's like 'we' and 'you', get it?
Okay. What are the Wii U's specs?
Here's what we know so far:
- IBM Power-based multi-core 45nm microprocessor
- AMD Radeon HD GPU
- Controller with built-in accelerometer, gyroscope, speakers, front-facing camera, microphone and 6.2in 16:9 touchscreen
- 1080p/1080i/720p/480p/480i video output
The version of Wii U that was shown at E3 is still technically a prototype, though, so this may change a little. And of course we're yet to hear numbers for a lot of key specs, such as storage and processor speed. As we've noted previously, the general feeling is that the Wii U will be able to significantly outpace the PS3 and Xbox 360, giving Nintendo a hardware lead for a while at least.
Here it is: the Wii U. Doesn't look a lot like the video below, does it?
What about the Wii U's touchscreen controllers?
Yes, that rumour has turned out to be true - the Wii U has massive tablet-like controllers with 6.2in touchscreens.
This enables some extremely cool-looking gameplay where one player can observe particular action on the mini-screen while other players are given a different view on the main screen (there was one Pac-Man-esque demo where most of the players had to co-operate to chase and catch the guy with the tablet, but his view showed where the other players were).
When will the Wii U launch in the UK?
Hey, don't get ahead of yourself - remember that word 'prototype'. Not until next April at the very earliest, I'm afraid - Nintendo has confirmed that it won't launch in financial year 2012. Further to that, Nintendo US boss Reggie Fil-Aime has stated in an interview that the E3 unveiling was "a year away from when the system's going to launch", so summer 2012 could be more realistic. (Rather controversially, in that interview Fils-Aime admits that video footage in the launch presentation was produced by other consoles.)
After that, expect a delay of a couple of weeks before the Wii U makes it way to the UK, if the Wii is anything to go by.
And what about the Wii U's price?
According to Nikkei, the Wii U is likely to be priced at more than 20,000 yen in Japan (that's about £150, or $250). Obviously we should expect to add on the UK's usual premium, so anywhere from £170 to £200 is probably feasible.
That's it for now. Don't forget to read our early verdict on the Wii U.
Wii 2 'secret video'
Updated, 18 May: Prepare to get sceptical. Someone has posted what they claim is a secret video of the Wii 2 to YouTube. The text claims it's a "leak video of Project Cafe taken during a closed meeting with a developer of video games".
It's basically impossible to know whether this is genuinely a glimpse of Project Cafe, but the whole thing seems a bit far-fetched to us. Rather too conveniently timed, for one thing. And it wouldn't be that hard to rig up a fake 'Wii 2' and hoover up some serious traffic. The uploading account was created yesterday, whatever that tells us - I suppose a real whistle-blower/leaker wouldn't want to be identified, either, but I still think it's a bit fishy.
Anyway, judge for yourself. You can see some stills from the video below (including some quite interesting slides, which make the Wii 2 look like the Wii 1, only with a curved rather than sharp corner, and seem to confirm the in-controller screen rumour), which could come in handy if the video gets taken down by Nintendo. That might be a promising sign, come to think of it.
Other sites say Nintendo has described the video as "purely rumour and speculation", which is an odd way of phrasing it. We're trying to track down official word from Nintendo, to try to find out if they're saying the Wii 2 video is real, totally fake, real but unofficial, or a mixture of these.
Bookmark this page for more Wii 2 rumours and updated news announcements.
Updated, 17 May 2011: In the emerging eighth-gen games console war, the early bird and solidest set of launch specifications comes from Nintendo and its Wii 2.
Unlike the still semi-mythical Xbox 720 and PS4, the Wii 2, or Project Cafe, has a very rough launch timeframe (2012 - hey, it's something!), hardware specs and exciting promises that it will be demonstrated at the E3 show next month.
Here's our roundup of everything that's known about Project Cafe, from official news to scurrilous speculation. Keep an eye on this page, which we'll update with fresh Wii 2 news as soon as we hear it.
Wii 2: Specifications, design and touchscreen controllers
Earliest hints of the hardware specs and design of the Wii 2 came from the French website 01net (which we'll be quoting in English using Google Chrome's translator).
01net was first to predict that the Wii 2 will have 6in wireless controllers with built-in touchscreens. Comparing these to the VMU accessories used by the Sega Dreamcast, the site claimed:
"It would be a sort of 'super VMU' (which included memory and an LCD for mini-games) on steroids. A sensor corresponding to the sensor bar for Wii... is integrated into the controller-pad. A small ARM [processor] seems more than likely.
"Our sources say that the tablet screen is not high definition, but standard definition - below 720p. Its graphics performance has been described as modest."
- Unified RAM, like the 360, with a minimum of 512MB
Kotaku reports that Project Cafe will have 8GB of on-board flash storage, which is considerably less than the 250GB hard-drive-equipped edition of the Xbox 360 (although more than the 4GB version, of course).
Wii 2: UK launch date
The Wii 2 will be shown off - announced and playable - at the E3 games show (7-9 June 2011), and most experts predict a 2012 launch. However, IGN's anonymous sources reckon it will ship from the Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn in October, and claim the earliest possible retail release could be "anywhere between mid-October and early November".
Realistically, however, Nintendo is more likely to build up supplies and allow developers to work on a decent software launch library by waiting until early 2012 to launch the Wii 2. It's not like Sony or Microsoft are likely to beat it to market.
Update, 18 May 2011: Thanks to commenter Daniel, who pointed us to a statement by Nintendo (pdf) naming a 2012 launch date. Consider that October launch date rumour quashed!
Wii 2: UK price
We haven't got a UK price yet. According to IGN, the Wii 2 could have a US retail price of between $350 and $400. That translates to about £215-£250 in a straight conversion, but expect to see the usual premium rate added on for 'rip-off Britain'.
Wii 2: 3D?
Apparently not. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told Bloomberg News: "It's difficult to make 3D images a key feature, because 3D televisions haven't obtained wide acceptance yet."
Wii 2: Launch name
It's currently codenamed Project Cafe, but the chances are good that the Wii 2 will end up with another name when it launches; and people will probably complain about whatever gets chosen. The Wii was known as the Nintendo Revolution for a while, and this was generally felt to be much better (I don't agree - I think Wii is one of the cleverest brand names in the less than glorious history of video game names).
IGN has put forward one possible name that the successor to the Wii could end up with: Stream. Which ought to lend itself to pun headlines almost as well as Wii. Full Stream ahead. Ex-Stream-ly good. And so on.
Wii 2's rivals: When will Microsoft and Sony catch up?
It's tempting, of course, to always regard games consoles in neatly grouped generations, but the current big three - Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo - won't necessarily refresh their consoles at exactly the same time. The seventh-gen machines, for instance, were spread out over more than a year (the PS3 limping into Britain almost 16 months after the Xbox 360).
But for every month that Project Cafe is available - or even a firm, specced proposition in gamers' minds - the Xbox 360 looks older and less appealing. Xbox 360 might have a few more years of solid profit left in it, but if Microsoft wants to make any claim of bleeding-edge gaming technology on impressionable young gamers, it's going to have come up with something before long.
Keep an eye on this page, which we'll update with all the stuff we hear about the next Wii, from hard fact and official announcement to wild speculation.