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Warp Pipe: Wii U first impressions

I got a chance to play around with the Nintendo Wii U last week at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. First impressions? The new console has identity issues.

Nintendo is making a big deal about the Wii U's touch screen, which can double as a gaming tablet, video chat device and Web surfer. You also can choose to play using the screen on either the controller or the TV.

"Up until now, home console games had to occupy the TV screen in order to be played," Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said. "The new controller for Wii U, with its 6.2-inch screen built in, means you won't need to give up your game play when someone else comes in the room and wants to watch a TV program."

From what I've overheard, most bloggers thought the controller was comfortable and ergonomically sound. I agree -- except that Nintendo's core demographic isn't middle-aged hipster men. Kids are going to find the controller bulky. But the controller does bring the success of Nintendo's handheld DS dual-screen gaming to the Wii. Players can use the tablet to point to the sides of the TV screen to find hidden features. The Wii U will be released between April and December next year. Its price hasn't been set.

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