Unlike E3 2006 which saw the simultaneous launch of Microsoft Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Sony PlayStation 3, eight-generation battle is shaping up quite differently. Nintendo blinked first by presenting Wii U, the first eight generation console which combines tablet-like controller with a "rounded" Wii case.

Meet the Nintendo Wii U Game Controller
Nintendo Wii U Game Controller features a large center 6.2" LCD with resistive touch screen.

There is no doubt in the industry that the biggest surprise of last console cycle came out of Japan in the form of Nintendo Wii. This non-HD console delighted with simple and effective games, as well as innovative game controller that appealed to masses. Sales results only confirmed that, propelling Nintendo from distant third into a dominating #1 on the console market, with 86.7 million sold. For comparison, Microsoft holds expected second position with 54 million Xbox 360s, while undisputed leader of PlayStation 2 era, Sony trails in third place with 50.6 million PS3 sold.

Their eight generation console carries the name Wii U and needless to say, brings a lot of innovative ideas to the market which currently struggles to compete with smartphone and tablet sales.

World of multiplayer gaming: five players, one can play on his smaller screen, with five Wii-like controllers
World of multiplayer gaming: five players, one can play on his smaller screen, with five Wii-like controllers

Just like the original Wii, most attention certainly sits with the controller, which fits somewhere between a tablet and a smartphone: a 6.2" LCD resistive touch screen dominates the middle of the controller and the company will deliver a pen with it. Thus, you can expect to have the same experience as on Nintendo DS – you can use fingers, but most precise action requires a pen. According to Nintendo, you can sync up to five players on the console, but only one controller can be the Wii U one – remaining four controllers will either use controllers from original Wii or ones that will be compliant with Wii U. Due to wireless bandwidth and probably GPU architecture limitations at current point in time, it is not possible to connect more than one Wii U controller to the console.

The Wii U case is as compact as the one on original Wii - this time, the company decided for rounded shapes. Red Sync button serves for syncing the console with controllers
The Wii U case is as compact as the one on original Wii – this time, the company decided for rounded shapes. Red Sync button serves for syncing the console with controllers

How the gaming will look on Nintendo Wii U: HD Graphics on large screen TV and maps, inventory or something similar on your gamepadHowever, this controller is without a doubt, a brilliant answer to just how consoles are going to fight in the world filled with aggressive commercials for smartphones and tablets. The fact that you can use the large LCD on the screen to display your inventory or a map is something we’ve been dying for.

In order to keep up with the television standards, the company now supports 1080p, Full HD output – meaning we can finally say good bye to Nintendo’s trademark: pixelized, blocky, blurry images. The console is still based on unnamed multi-core IBM PowerPC processor and "Custom AMD Radeon HD". This announcement is also a landmarked one: AMD Radeon HD GPU is the first branded console GPU in history of consoles. We all remember Xbox chips being named NVIDIA NV2-A, MCP, Xbox 360 featuring ATI Xenos, while PlayStation 3 had Reality Synthesizer i.e. NVIDIA RSX (actually, it was NV47 with 128-bit interface, i.e. GeForce 7800GTX). Nintendo simply used codenames for the chips, such as Hollywood (Wii) or Flipper (GameCube). Not anymore – Wii U now carries Radeon HD graphics. Can we expect Xbox 4 and PlayStation 4 to carry GeForce graphics? Only time will tell.

Nintendo Wii U will come to market in 2012, the year when Microsoft and Sony are expected to present their consoles, arriving to market in late 2012 and early 2013. Time will tell are those plans by Microsoft and Sony now changing in order to respond to market leader and their next-gen product…