SUDDENLY, since its launch last week, the new Nintendo Wii U will have shot to the top of a lot of Christmas lists. Reputedly, 40,000 were sold in the UK during their first two days on the market and a lot more will find their way into wrapping paper in the next couple of weeks.
The big difference between the new model and the traditional Wii can be found in the handheld Game Pad. This looks like the offspring of the old Wii Remote crossed with a DS. It has the buttons and functions of a Wii Remote but includes a whopping great touch screen, revolutionising what it can do and the games that can be played on it.
The handheld screen means that the use of a TV set with the Wii becomes optional, so Junior can play Mario Kart without Grandma missing Corrie when she comes for tea. Encouragingly, old Wii games will generally still work with the Wii U as well, meaning these do not need to be bought again, at least until new versions with additional features that add touchscreen use hit the market.
The bad news, though, is that, as yet, the Wii U operates on a single Game Pad per Console basis, so families cannot buy extra Game Pads and do multi-player gaming. It is rumoured that this option will be introduced in a few months time.
Meanwhile, there are two bundles in the shops. The Basic set, in white, has 8Gb of internal storage in the console and costs about £250. The meatier Premium version, in black, with 32Gb of storage, comes at about £300.