There are two sides to Nintendo’s Wii U, as I discovered after spending nearly an hour with the upcoming home gaming system at E3 last week. On one hand, it’s another platform for gimmicky, silly fun, just like the original Wii. On the other, it’s a practical hardware upgrade that wants to be more capable than its console competitors.
My time with the Wii U included five “experiences” — that is, short tech demos that won’t necessarily become actual games — all of which showcased the Wii U’s controller, with its 6.2-inch touch screen. You can see each one on Nintendo’s website.
Picking up a Wii U controller was a lot like handling a Wii remote for the first time — a bit of bewilderment and a bit of excitement, followed by a quick dose of simple entertainment. I was playing a virtual game of tag with three pals from PCWorld, them using Wii remotes to chase my avatar, me using the Wii U controller to escape. The trick was that only I could see where everyone was positioned, thanks to a map on my controller’s screen. We yelled. We laughed. We cheered. It was Wii Sports Tennis all over again — a cheap thrill without much substance.