Nintendo Wii U goes on sale this weekend

Wii U gamepad gives players a new view of their video games

By , IDG News Service |  Personal Tech, game consoles, Nintendo

Nintendo's new game console the Wii U will go on sale in the U.S. Sunday as the company attempts to regain ground from Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's Playstation 3.

Research manager for IDC's video games service Lewis Ward expects the console to be successful at launch, selling 1.5 million units in the U.S. between its Nov. 18 debut and the end of the year. Its long-term success will depend on software titles, content partnerships and if it can capture the hard-core gaming audience.

"The HD platforms [Sony's PS3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360] have branched out into the areas where Nintendo has historically done very well with the younger kids and teens," he said in an interview. "And what we're seeing from Nintendo is that they're going the other way. They've got the family market down pat and now they're trying to go back and get some of the core audience."

"Call of Duty: Black Ops II" will be one of the launch window titles, which should attract the hard-core audience, according to Ward. He said he hasn't been able to try the new "Call of Duty" with the Wii U, but is interested in seeing how the Wii U's "gamepad" will work with it.

The Wii U gamepad includes a small screen for what Nintendo calls asymmetric gaming or where the information displayed on the gamepad differs from what's shown on the main television screen. For example, in one game called "ZombieU" the gamepad is used as a sniper rifle scope, which allows players to zoom in on a potential target before pulling the trigger.

To see Wii U game play and our analysis, watch a video on YouTube.

A suite of games called "Nintendo Land" ships with the Wii U Deluxe Set, which costs $350. It includes a game called "Luigi's Ghost Mansion" where the player holding the gamepad acts as the ghost chasing after other players. The other players play on the big screen and can't see the ghost.

"In my testing of 'Nintendo Land,' I think it gets the point across while you're having fun," Ward said.

Nintendo hasn't said how many units it will have available at launch, but did say that it was more than the first Wii, which went on sale in 2006. One GameStop retailer near Boston said that the store only had five units, all of which have already been preordered.

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