Nintendo unveils Wii U details?

Steve Tilley, QMI Agency
The new Wii U. (HANDOUT)

The new Wii U. (HANDOUT)

Video game fans hoping for some big surprises from this year's edition of the Electronic Entertainment Expo must have felt like an imprisoned Princess Peach in her castle, waiting for the one and only Mario to rescue her.

After announcements from rival game giants Sony and Microsoft revealed solid line-ups of games but with only a handful of unexpected developments, it fell to Nintendo to impress attendees at the video game trade show with news of the company's upcoming Wii U console, and the games that will be available when it hits stores this holiday season.

But at a packed media briefing at the Nokia Theater in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday morning, Nintendo executives and game developers seemed unsure how to properly communicate the concept of the Wii U's novel dual-screen gaming, and chose not to divulge the precise launch date of the high-definition game console, nor how much it will cost.

The Wii U pairs a wireless handheld touchscreen controller -- imagine a tablet computer with joysticks -- with a console connected to the TV to offer so-called "asymmetrical gaming," where a player using the Wii U GamePad will often have a different experience than players using standard Wii controllers on the big screen.

"We knew our next system was going to have its own dedicated screen, even if it had to be small," Nintendo's legendary Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto said of the company's follow-up to its popular Wii console. "We wanted it to be the first screen people went to when they went into the living room."

The 20-odd games confirmed for the system include New Super Mario Bros. U, Pikmin 3, Mass Effect 3, Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition, Darksiders II, Aliens Colonial Marines, Lego City Undercover, Scribblenauts Unlimited and Assassin's Creed III.

In pre-taped demonstrations, game developers showed how the Wii U GamePad could be used, for example, to guide a batarang in flight in Batman Arkham City or shake off an attacking zombie in Ubisoft's ZombiU, a mature-themed game that was one of the standout titles shown for the new console.

Keeping with Nintendo's family-friendly heritage, Wii U will offer gentler fare as well, such as Just Dance 4, a karaoke game called SiNG, Wii Fit U and a collection of minigames called NintendoLand that could be to the Wii U what Wii Sports was to the original Wii when it launched in 2006. The Wii U will also incorporate an online gaming network dubbed Miiverse that will allow players to interact and share tips about games as they play them.

Despite the Wii U's intriguing potential, some fans tuning into the Nintendo E3 announcements online seemed disappointed at the lack concrete details about Wii U system specifications and, for the second E3 in a row, word on what the console will cost. Nintendo of America president and COO Reggie Fils-Aime said the company wanted to concentrate on game announcements at this year's show, and leave the rest of the Wii U information and revelations for a later date. Meanwhile, we'll have hands-on impressions of the hardware and games later this week.