AUSTIN (KXAN) - Several months before it is even available in stores, one of the most hyped-about gifts for the holiday season was on display in Austin.
The Wii U is Nintendo's replacement for its Wii console. The Japanese game-maker announced the new product at the E3 conference in California back in June.
Nintendo is showing off some of the Wii U's features and new games to Austinites on Thursday through Sunday.
They are holding several adult and family sessions at private events in Downtown Austin to let people try out the games before they go on sale.
As a KXAN producer and admitted Nintendo fan (my brothers and I have owned every Nintendo console since the NES, plus several Game Boys and DS), I jumped at the chance to try out the games.
The testing "playground" was packed Thursday with plenty of diehard fans.
The gameplay is aided by a new GamePad, where players can use a stylus to affect the game differently. In the Super Mario Bros. U game, for example, a player can create bricks to jump off of.
While Nintendo had a big impact on the dancing games (using the Wiimote instead of a pad in "Just Dance"), it had fallen behind in other musical games. "Guitar Hero" and "Rock Band" came to the console later.
This time, Nintendo is getting ahead of the curve with Sing. My rendition of "Call Me Maybe" was gut-wrenching to say the least.
Many blogs have talked about how the Wii U is Nintendo's answer to the demand from more "serious" gamers. The company has lost market share to its rivals: Microsoft's XBox 360 and Sony's Playstation 3. Part of that is because the Wii did not support high-definition graphics.
The Wii U does deliver in the HD realm, but for many of the games on display, the HD was nice but not necessary. For "Just Dance 4," it looked crisper than the previous games in the series, but it wasn't needed for better gameplay.
The difference is apparent with some titles unfamiliar to Nintendo-only players. The "Batman Arkham" series, for example, was limited to XBox and PS3 consoles.
Still, Nintendo does what Nintendo does best: create good, character-driven games. While much of what we saw were demos, you can tell the company is keeping in mind everyone's favorite spokesplumber: Mario. There are also games with classic characters like "Link" from the "Legend of Zelda" series and "Donkey Kong," as well as newer favorites like "Pikmin."
Overall, I am glad I got to try out the game systems. Austin is lucky to be on their tour. I expect plenty of kids will be wishing for a Wii U under the tree in December.
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