Does Your Library Need the New Wii U?

Nope. Too easy?

The “Wii U” is Nintendo’s next-generation console, with high definition graphics and a slate of new games. Sony’s Playstation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 have new versions coming out in the not-quite-foreseeable future, though they’re on the way. Nintendo is the first to get a new console onto the shelves.

I have no complaints with what I’ve seen of the Wii U, even including the name (an exclamation made after coming across a piggy smell?). It’s the controller that will probably keep this out of libraries.

That’s a picture of the Wii U GamePad on the box. Nintendo is using the screen on the controller to enhance gameplay on the TV. So while you’re wandering through a videogame on the TV, the GamePad’s screen might show a map of the level. From the game previews I’ve seen, it looks like the GamePad is necessary for playing the games, not just a fun add-on.

The GamePad is $150. That’s the estimate based on the price in Japan, and it’s the real kicker. The Wii controllers aren’t indestructible, but they can definitely stand up to some abuse. I doubt that’s true of the GamePad. Broken or stolen, it looks like it will take the whole system offline.

This isn’t a dealbreaker for the Wii U as a whole. If you trust your kids (or yourself) with a handheld game system like Nintendo’s 3DS or Sony’s PSP or and iPod Touch, you can handle the GamePad. Its second screen looks like it will add a lot of fun to games, and although the system’s $300 starting price is high, it’s not much higher than the Wii’s original price when adjusted for inflation. Its new TVii system also streams TV shows from Netflix, Hulu, and other sources and can take the place of other set-top boxes. You may well want one for your home. But for your library? Probably not.


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