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Game Review

The Wii (pronounced we) is the direct successor to the Nintendo GameCube, but it treads such a different path that it feels more like a completely new product than a descendent. And the Wii U (pronounced we-you) significantly one-ups the Wii, at least from a technology standpoint.

The Wii U is the first Nintendo gaming console to support high-definition graphics, capable of producing video output up to 1080p. A Deluxe version includes a charging dock for the GamePad controller and the in-pack game Nintendo Land.

Exchanging controller remotes with nunchuks for the touchscreen-embedded GamePad, the Wii U allows for games to be played on both a TV and on the controller itself. Some games utilize the two screens simultaneously. The GamePad controller features dual analog sticks, and a half-dozen buttons, bumpers and triggers that serve traditional game demands. An internal accelerometer and gyroscope amp up next-gen motion-sensing play. There's a camera designed for video conferencing and on-TV augmented reality games. There's also a built-in infrared sensor, a voice-recognizing mic and something called an NFC chip that can transfer info and perform wireless transactions like a credit card reader. The Wii U can be used to browse the Internet, and with a firmware update allows users to find programs on video streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video and YouTube. (The GamePad can then be used to display extra information on the videos being watched.)

This new system is backward compatible with the Wii, and some Wii U games support compatibility with the now old-school Wii remotes. It is not backward compatible with GameCube discs or peripherals.

The older Wii's low-definition graphics now pale in comparison to the other major consoles, of course. But clearly it was the Wii's motion magic that led to a wireless/active renaissance in casual, family gaming. It and the Wii U share that ability. But unlike the Wii, the Wii U intentionally caters to more hard-core gamers, and thus it will feature more M-rated games. The Wii remotes are especially compelling when applied to sports games such as tennis, baseball, golf and bowling. But even they can have a dark side since when utilized by games devoted to killing they enable realistic slashing, stabbing and shooting movements. The new Wii GamePad reduces the level of physical activity while playing.

Parental Controls
The Wii and the Wii U offer only basic options to restrict content, and none related to time.

1) Game Ratings: The Wii and Wii U consoles read from the game disc which ESRB rating (EC, E, E10+, T, M, AO) a given game has received. Parents can then limit the games their children are allowed to play by restricting certain ratings. The Wii U features a setting that requires a parental pass code whenever the system is turned on.

2) Access to Internet: The built-in Wi-Fi connection can be restricted with a downloadable browser.

3) Pass Code Lock-Out: Parents can set a pass code that will keep Family Settings protected and ensure that they are the only ones that can access or change them.

Note that the GameCube has no parental controls. And parental controls settings for Wii or Wii U do not affect GameCube game discs.

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Bob Hoose

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