New Nintendo ‘Wii U’ console is 1080p with tablet-like touch controller

Nintendo’s next console, previously code-named “Cafe,” received an official title on Tuesday: Wii U.

Speaking to reporters gathered at the company’s E3 press conference, Reggie Fils-Aime, CEO of Nintendo of America, unveiled the system’s novel new touch-screen controller, showcased some promised launch titles and confirmed the console would display HD graphics in 1080p.

Fils-Aime described the name as sort of two-pronged appeal to both new gamers and long-time players – the latter possibly slighted by the Wii’s greater focus on wrangling in video game newbies at the expense of typical gamers.

“You might remember how the Wii name began to make perfect sense once you started hearing it as “we.” It was clear how much fun we all had playing together – even with people who weren’t gamers before,” he explained. “But in thinking about a new Nintendo system, we knew the prevailing thought would be this: yes, the game will probably be right for all of us, but could it also be a perfect fit just for you? And the answer to that question is an emphatic absolute.”

While the console itself was a no-show, its new interface is a Frankenstein’s Monster-esque merging of a dual-analog controller and an iPad, complete with a 6-inch touchscreen, motion controls and wireless streaming capabilities. The new system will also offer Wii hardware and software backwards compatibility – making Nintendo’s decision to stick with the popular Wii brand unsurprising.

An announcement video outlined other uses for the controller, including: video calling, drawing, Wii Fit connectivity, web browsing and assorted multi-player games which independently utilize the touchscreen.

While the unique controller could lead to new gameplay possibilities for developers to explore, many are playing it safe for now. But in doing so they’ve addressed a complaint leveled against the Wii time and time again: its relative lack of power.

Though exact specs were not provided by Nintendo, what is known is that Wii U will at least compete with graphics displayed on the PS3 and Xbox 360. A solid number of already announced PS3 and 360 titles from Sega, EA, Ubisoft, THQ, Namco Bandai and Tecmo Koei that will land on the Wii U next year proves as much. High-profile games like “Batman: Arkham City,” “Tekken,” “Assassin’s Creed” and “Battlefield 3” will appear on the system, though it’s yet unclear how (or if) any will take specific advantage of the controller.

It’s not farfetched to assume the system will also see ports of many titles its predecessor missed out on. Ubisoft in particular previously discussed an interest in bringing PS3 and 360 titles to Nintendo’s new console.

What do you think of the Wii U announcement? Worried about the possible price tag, or eager to try out all the promised features regardless? Share your thoughts in the comment section.