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New Wii U console unveiled with focus on controller

Six inch touch screen dominates wireless tablet, but base-unit and specifications remain secretive

Speculation over the nature of the new Nintendo console has been clarified somewhat at E3 today, with the platform holder revealing a tablet-style controller for the new hardware.

Now known officially as the Wii U, rather than by the codename of Project Cafe, the console is focused on its brand new style of controller, seemingly taking in ideas from tablets and THQ's U-draw device.

The controller features a six-inch touchscreen which dominates its surface, but also has two analogue nubs, a d-pad, four face buttons, four shoulder buttons and a camera.

The innovative hardware was shown streaming content from a console, but that console was not shown in any detail. However, a TV isn't necessary to access content via the device, which can stream directly to the controller instead.

The tablet is not designed as a portable gaming device, though, and Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata made clear that streaming distances will not allow players to travel with the controller.

The device was shown being used as a board to play Go, as a motion controlled pointing device, as a screen on top of a Wii-blaster gun, and as a graphics tablet.

Heading up the list of game announcements for the machine was Traveller's Tales' LEGO City Stories, but any fears of another console which ignores the 'core' audience were quickly allayed by a showreel of third-party developers showing off titles which included Ninja Gaiden 3, Metro Last Light, Colonial Marines, Batman: Arkham City, Darksiders 2, Assassin's Creed, and Ghost Recon Online.

A press release from Nintendo has clarified that each Wii U console will support one of the new touchscreen controllers and up to four Wiimotes. The system is fully backwards compatible with all Wii titles and peripherals.

"Wii U redefines the structure of home entertainment by fundamentally changing how the TV, the game console and the Internet function and interact together," said Nintendo President Satoru Iwata.

"The experience enabled by Wii U and the new controller takes players deeper into their games, while reaching out wider than ever before to be inviting to all kinds of gamers."

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