Closely following its much-hyped re-unveiling at E3, the doors to a hands-on session with Nintendo's new Wii U were drawn open for a three-day spell at a recent London event. Naturally, we jumped at the chance to get up close and personal with the mysterious new hardware after an unconvincing debut at the firm's E3 press conference.
Precise details on its exact specs remain scarce, as always; the Big N's policy of guarding this information means we're unlikely to know much more than the fact it uses a tri-core IBM CPU paired with an updated derivative of an AMD graphics card. Rumours of RAM in excess of 1GB are at large too, but are still unconfirmed - that is, until we can prise a unit open of our own at some point in the future.
Until then, that ambiguity keeps things interesting. The Kyoto company's determination to steer our focus away from these technological facets and towards the magic of its software has no doubt amplified its mainstream presence.
However, it's clear that there's still much for Nintendo to prove in the realm of HD gaming. In this generation alone we've seen an unprecedented number of high-profile developers rise and fall based on their ability to adapt to current console architecture. At the risk of unweaving the rainbow that arcs over its Mushroom Kingdom, it's worth giving credit where credit's due and seeing where Nintendo stands at the minute in purely technical terms - from the hardware to the new rendering techniques it is using in its games.
Before we start, it bears mention that the company's "innovation first" tack holds true for coverage at events such as these where, no doubt to the dismay of pixel-counters everywhere, direct HDMI video feeds weren't made available on the day. We were also forbidden from snapping pictures of the HDTV frame dead-on during play - all footage had to be shot from an angle, and always keeping a player with a controller to hand in focus.
"Rayman Legends stood out as one of the most impressive Wii U titles at the event - a worthy sequel, with some great tablet-based concepts."
Rayman Legends provides some of the most inventive uses of the Wii U's GamePad, with one player tapping at the touch-screen to manipulate the level, and the other platforming through it with the leading man himself. This plays out especially well due to the exceptional levels of latency the controller operates with.
The GamePad And The Game
Fortunately, there's plenty to say based on our direct experiences with the console. The first thing we pick up on are the dimensions of the Wii U console; an essentially more curvaceous Wii with an extra 50 per cent added to its length, and two large vents to its side.
Besides the addition of an HDMI port to its rear, there are very few surprises in terms of connectivity; the standard AV, power and sensor bar connectors stand strong, although the power block remains out of sight. Ideally this would account for the extra mass added to the unit, making it an all-in-one piece of kit, but it's more likely that these early demonstrations have them hidden under the kiosk.
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