Nintendo Announces Wii U Gaming Console

One has to hand it to Nintendo for being willing to take risks. It kick-started the motion gaming revolution with its Nintendo Wii in 2006. Last year, it made a bold move by announcing the Nintendo 3DS, a handheld gaming device with glasses-free 3D display. Now, it is trying to shake things up again with the Nintendo Wii U.

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Nintendo Wii U is the successor to the massively popular Nintendo Wii. Once again Nintendo is targeting casual users more than hardcore gamers. In fact, Nintendo is officially calling the Wii U a “home console” instead of a “gaming console”.

As you might expect, the Wii U boasts of significantly improved hardware. It has an IBM Power based multi-core CPU, and a custom designed AMD Radeon HD GPU. This means that Wii U games will look at least as good as current PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games. The Wii U also supports full HD video output, and has a front-facing camera. The console will have internal flash memory, but you can use an ordinary SD card or an external USB hard disk drive to expand its storage. However, the real draw of the console is not its powerful hardware, but its innovative new controller.

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Nintendo-Wii-U-Back

The Wii U comes with a tablet-like 6.2-inch touchscreen controller, which also has all the traditional controls, including two analog Circle Pads. The touchscreen can replicate the image being sent to the television, and can be used to continue gaming when the television is unavailable. It can also provide entirely different perspectives and can add an extra dimension to gaming. It’s difficult to describe in words exactly how this controller works. Check out the trailer video embedded below to understand the full potential of the Wii U controller.


Nintendo Wii U Trailer Video

The Wii U supports all Nintendo Wii controllers and up to four Wii Remotes can be connected at once. However, Nintendo hasn’t yet revealed how many Wii U controllers can be paired.

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What the Wii U is trying to pull off is ambitious and bold. It will be up to the game developers to leverage the Wii U in an intuitive and ingenious manner. If they succeed, then Nintendo might have another huge hit in their hands. The Wii U is slated to be released in 2012.


Tech Demo Demonstrating the Graphics Prowess of the Wii U

Sony Launches Affordable PlayStation 3D Display Bundle

The show stealer at Sony’s E3 event was undoubtedly the PlayStation Vita. However, the Japanese entertainment behemoth had quite a few other neat surprises in store for us. One of them was the PlayStation 3D display bundle.

3D TVs are nothing new, and have been quite the rage for the past couple of years. However, one thing that has been keeping them from going mainstream is affordability, or the lack of it. The new 24 inch PlayStation 3D TV is Sony’s attempt at tackling this problem. It’s mainly targeted at gamers who want to experience the benefits of 3D, but can’t afford the high end displays with bigger screens.

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It also has a unique 2D multiplayer mode. When enabled, the active shutter glasses will present two entirely different images to two different players, thus eliminating the need for split-screen view in multiplayer games. The glasses will feature a button for toggling between ‘Player 1′ and ‘Player 2′ views.

The PlayStation 3D TV bundle will include a pair of active shutter 3D glasses, HDMI cable, and a copy of the 3D game Resistance 3. The whole bundle will be available for a very decent $499, with the bundled freebies alone costing in excess of $150.

Image via Engadget

Sony Trumps Nintendo 3DS with PlayStation Vita, the PSP Successor

PlayStation-VitaA short while back, Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai officially announced Sony’s next generation handheld gaming device the PlayStation Vita. Vita, which was originally codenamed NGP (Next Generation Portable) will succeed the ageing PlayStation Portable, which was announced way back in 2004.

PlayStation-Vita-Front

The word Vita means Life, and Sony believes that Vita has the muscles to be able to blur the differences between entertainment and real life for the first time on a handheld console. The Vita has a 4-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and a 200 MHz SGX543MP4+ GPU. In short, it blows away Nintendo’s 3DS and other handheld gaming devices like the Xperia Play. The powerful hardware will be well complemented by the 5 inch OLED capacitive multi-touch screen (with rear touch panel) that boasts of a resolution of 960 x 544. The combination of larger than average size with a mightily impressive resolution means that everything from games to HD Videos will look stunning on the Vita.


Vita Announcement Video

Besides the standard PlayStation buttons, the Vita has two analog sticks and a D-pad. The device also has front and rear facing cameras, stereo speakers, six-axis motion sensor, GPS, and Bluetooth connectivity.

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Sony has tied up with over 150 developers, and there should be an impressive number of titles available at launch. Games for the Vita will be distributed on NVG cards, which will be available in 2 GB and 4 GB sizes. Some of the games that have been announced include Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Killzone, LittleBigPlanet, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The Vita will also be capable of playing existing PlayStation Portable (PSP) games.

Sony is pushing augmented reality and location-aware games along with social gaming on the Vita. A feature called “Party” will allow gamers in the same room to voice chat with each other. Another feature called “Near” will allow you to connect and play with other gamers around you.

Sony will release two editions of the Vita a Wi-Fi only version for $249, and a Wi-Fi+3G version for $299. In the US, Vita will be exclusive to AT&T. It will be launched during the holiday season this year.


Vita Trailer Video

Vita’s closest competitor is obviously the Nintendo 3DS, which impressed us in last year’s E3. The 3DS’ biggest selling point is obviously its ability to support glasses free 3D imagery. However, when it comes to raw power the Vita absolutely owns the 3DS. Once again, it appears that the Nintendo’s offering will appeal more to the casual gamers, while Sony’s VIta will appeal to enthusiasts and hardcore gamers. However, at $249, the 3DS might be too expensive for casual gamers, but the Vita might be perfectly priced for gaming enthusiasts.

Xbox 360 To Store Saved Games On The Cloud

A lot was showed during Microsoft’s E3 keynote and as it turns out, some of it was left out too. Director of Programming in the Xbox team, Larry Hryb shared on his blog two features to be introduced in Xbox that weren’t talked about on stage at E3. One feature is about adding social to gaming and the other is making it easier for gamers to access their data.

Cloud Storage

Xbox 360 will be storing saved games on the cloud making it easier for a gamer to continue his game when he is not on his console. The fine print on the service is unclear but I would assume that this will be part of the Xbox LIVE Diamond or Gold subscription. It could even be free for all users. Currently, users have to save their data on the Xbox HDD or a portable drive, with cloud storage, the need for physical storage has been reduced.

Cloud storage will allow users to sync their Xbox profile including  Microsoft Points, achievements and friends.

Beacons

A new social element added to the Xbox 360 gaming experience makes it easier for gamers to tell their friends what game they would like play. Larry explains Beacons as:

Beacons are a way to tell your Xbox LIVE and Facebook friends that you want to play a game on Xbox LIVE. By setting a Beacon, you tell Xbox LIVE what you want to play. Then, Xbox LIVE lets you know when friends are playing or want to play the same game. With Beacons, no matter what you’re currently doing on Xbox LIVE your friends know that it’s ok to ask you to play your Beaconed games.

via GeekWire

Xbox 360 To Get Voice Control, Bing, YouTube, Tiles & Live TV

At their E3 keynote, Microsoft introduced a major update to the Xbox 360 dashboard. The update includes a new interface and deeper Kinect integration.

Metro UI

The dashboard now looks a lot more like Zune with tiles and navigation categories at the top. The Metro UI is now part of Windows 8 (tablet), Windows Phone 7 and the Xbox. The live tiles are updated with relevant information.

Bing

Microsoft’ s decision engine is slowly becoming an integral part of the company’s product portfolio. Bing is an important feature in Windows phone 7 and today  Microsoft  integrated Bing’s search capabilities in Xbox 360. The Bing interface on the Xbox is elegant and coupled with voice control, searching your catalog and the Internet looks fun.

With Bing, a user can search within apps like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, ESPN and Xbox  LIVE  Marketplace to find relevant entertainment content.

Voice Control

With Kinect integration, Microsoft has now enabled voice control throughout the Xbox. Voice commands can be used with Bing to search within apps for content.

Live TV and YouTube

Microsoft has promised subscription based TV services starting this fall in the US. Currently,  Microsoft  has partnered with Sky TV in the UK, FoxTel in Australia and Canal+ in France for live television in the respective countries. In addition to subscription based local TV content, Microsoft will be streaming martial fights under Ultimate Fighting Championship and feature some exclusive UFC videos.

Microsoft has been able to strike a deal with Google to bring YouTube to the Xbox 360. This allows users to access the huge  repertoire  of videos on the website using voice control in their living room. Looks like Google just lost a reason to sell Google TVs.

Miscellaneous

As spotted by Tom Warren, the dashboard update has an apps section with Marketplace. The apps are the currently available third party services integrated in Xbox. As the people at This Is My Next noticed, live TV has a tile named My DVR.

Images courtesy This Is My Next and Microsoft PR

Ubisoft Shows Jaw Dropping Kinect Integration In Tom Clancy

At Microsoft’s E3 keynote, game publisher Ubisoft showed Kinect integration with the next iteration of Tom Clancy Ghost Recon Future Soldier. When the demo started I was shuffling between twitter and refreshing the WWDC live blogs while playing the video on a separate screen. Then I gasped, my jaw dropped and I stayed glued while Ubisoft demonstrated some exciting Kinect integration features. What Ubisoft showed cannot be described in words but can only be enjoyed in video:

Playing with no controllers might get tiring but being able to configure guns by gestures is simply nerdgasmic. Ubisoft promised that future Tom Clancy versions will all have Kinect integration. Ghost Recon Future Soldier is expected to come out in 2012.