After about a decade of relative dominance with the NES and Super NES, followed by a decade of relative also-ran status with the Nintendo 64 and GameCube, Nintendo shocked the gaming world with the stratospheric success of the Wii. With a rock-bottom price, innovative new motion-sensitive controller, and the easy-to-understand, everyman appeal of games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit, the system went on to ship nearly 100 million units worldwide. But for its wide commercial success, many long-time gamers quickly grew disillusioned with the Wii, thanks to underpowered hardware that couldn't handle HD graphics and a software library that came to be dominated by nearly skill-free, "waggle-the-controller" mini-game collections.

With the Wii U, Nintendo seems to be trying to recapture the original Wii's sales magic while at the same time mollifying some of the lifelong gamers disillusioned by its predecessor. Instead of the motion-sensitive remote, the new control gimmick is a touchscreen tablet controller that can be used to play games while the TV is otherwise occupied, or to present secret information to only one player during multiplayer games. For more traditional gamers, the company is stressing the system's long-overdue HD graphics support, greater support for downloadable games, an Xbox 360-style controller option, and Wii U conversions for titles ranging from Batman: Arkham City to the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines.

On Thursday, Nintendo seems set to finally nail down the details of the promised "holiday season" launch and price point for the Wii U at a New York press event, officially ushering in the "next generation" of home game consoles. The announcement will likely also include the final details of the system's hardware specifications and which titles we can expect during the months-long "launch window." (We'll be there to liveblog the proceedings.)

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