Nintendo's presence at E3 2012 was focused heavily on the Wii U, from revamped hardware to a first-look at its launch line-up, including a new Super Mario Bros and Wii Fit games, as well as the long-awaited return of Pikmin.
In short, our impressions are very positive. The controller is comfortable and easy to use, and the platform is ripe for interesting ideas for new and existing franchises.
As for the lineup, the bulk of Nintendo's own titles are essentially mini-games - albeit enjoyable ones that excellently showcase the platform - while Super Mario and Pikmin will provide the meat of the launch lineup.
Tomorrow (June 15), we look at what third-party publisher titles will be available at release - from Zombi U to Batman: Arkham City and Project P-100.
Gamepad - the Wii U's second screen
In typical Nintendo fashion, using the Gamepad is a pleasure. Despite its size and the amount of features on offer, the controller is surprisingly light, and thanks to a curved back and ledge protruding near the top of the device, it's very comfortable to hold.
The screen in the middle of the device is fantastic. While it's not as dazzling as an iPad or Vita screen and doesn't support multi-touch, it's clear and crisp, meaning playing sharp and bright high-definition titles such as New Super Mario Bros. U away from the television is a realistic option.
The analogue sticks - formally 3DS-style sliding pads - felt similar to previous Nintendo systems. They are not quite as resistive or weighty as Xbox 360 but are solid to use, and the introduction of clickable sticks makes third-party titles an easier transition to the platform.
Other new additions includes a Near-Field Communication dock at the bottom left allowing objects to be scanned into games, a feature that has yet to be formally demoed. Elsewhere, a dedicated button will enable the device to control a TV set even when the console is off, and at the top of the device there's a volume gauge for when games are played solely on the Gamepad.
New Super Mario Bros. U
Mario's Wii U debut is a multiplayer, side-scrolling adventure very similar to other New Super Mario games. Expect practically flawless platforming controls and crisp, clear 2D visuals that really shine in high definition.
In terms of new features, a squirrel suit allows players to glide through lines of coins and over obstacles, while tapping the right trigger when holding a baby Yoshi propels the player into the air. While it didn't use the Gamepad in any novel ways, it makes use of the duplicate screen ability, allowing the game to be played only on the Gamepad away from the television screen.
The long-awaited return of Nintendo's strategy title works brilliantly on Wii U. While the Gamepad screen itself doesn't offer any compelling features - it simply offers a scrollable map - a pointer housed at the top of the device means you have to tilt it around to select and deploy units while also allowing you to freely access the analogue sticks and buttons. It's a scheme that is surprisingly enjoyable and accurate.
New features include new Pikmin types and the addition of multiplayer - a first for the series - that opens the door for new collaborative gameplay for up to three others with Wii remote and nunchuks.
Game & Wario
Hidden away from the bright lights of the press conference and tucked away in the hands-on area was one of our favourite games on show. While Game & Wario isn't the traditional series of WarioWare micro-games you may expect, this collection of mini-games feel more like clever party games than a range of showcases for the new controller.
One game, Fruit, had the Gamepad holder trying their best to blend into a crowd and steal apples as other players watched on the television screen. Once the game was over, the Gamepad was passed around as they guessed which on-screen character the mystery thief was.
Other games saw the Gamepad as a camera to catch criminals in the act, while another was a Gamepad-only skiing game not unlike the classic SkiFree.
The most heavily pushed title at E3, this is what Wii Sports or Wii Play was to the original Wii, a collection of games themed around Nintendo's biggest franchises that best showcase the new hardware features on offer.
While early signs suggest that Nintendoland's games are more simple showcases than Wii Sports' fleshed out games, this is undoubtedly a very effective showcase of what the Wii U's second screen can do.
Takemaru's Ninja Castle
Rotating the Gamepad to its side, the player must swipe throwing stars from the touch screen to the television to hit moving ninjas. The speed of swipes impact the power of the star, and tilting the controller slightly to the side sees the stars curve their way onto the screen. It's a simple mini-game that proves how the Gamepad can be used from a unique perspective for a different experience.
Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest
One of the most enjoyable games in the package, this sees four players team up to tackle a linear dungeon from an over-the-shoulder perspective, tackling monsters and solving simple switch puzzles. The person with the Gamepad is the archer, using the screen to aim from first-person (a fantastic control method seen in the 3DS Zelda) and flicking the left analogue stick to fire arrows. Meanwhile, other players use Wii MotionPlus to swing 1:1 sword movements at oncoming monsters.
Donkey Kong's Crash Course
This sees players dropped into the top of a side-scrolling maze filled with diagonal platforms. Controlling a kart, players must carefully guide it from ledge to ledge without it toppling over and breaking its contents. It was the mini-game that made the least use of the Gamepad - the TV simply displayed a wider map - but it didn't stop this being a fun and particularly devious challenge.
Luigi's Ghost Mansion
The darling of Nintendo's E3 conference is one of Nintendoland's highlights. A team of ghost hunters had to track down a ghost - the player with the Gamepad - who was invisible on the television screen. The ghost had to navigate the Pac-man-style maze and dispatch players one by one, carefully guessing the routes players were about to take as they tried to revive their fallen comrades.
Animal Crossing: Sweet Day
Similar to Luigi's Ghost Mansion, the Gamepad-controlling player in this Animal Crossing-themed game has to catch the Wii controller-wielding users that are gathering fruit. The key difference is that you're controlling two monsters independently using the analogue sticks, and using your own screen, you must effectively navigate the maze and monitor player movements. Having to plan assaults from two different angles is particularly mind-breaking, but it didn't stop it being good fun.
Wii Fit U
While the majority of players might shy away from the idea of yet another fitness offering from Nintendo, Wii Fit U has some of the most enjoyable showcases of the new console, using the controller and Balance Board together in some clever ways.
The best two were a hosepipe game, aiming with the Gamepad and stepping down on the Balance Board to spray water. Harder stomps would create more powerful jets of water, knocking men clean off their feet, but took a toll on your personal stamina.
Then there was a dinner serving game, where players had to multi-task a tray of desserts - which was controlled by the Gamepad - and quickly having to run between tables by stomping around on the Balance Board.
Perhaps the most simple but effective challenge was a trampoline mini-game. The Gamepad would be positioned on the floor in front of you, displaying the ground below that shrunk the higher you went, helping with accuracy and adding a surprising dash of immersion.
Elsewhere, there were games that didn't use the Gamepad at all; lunging and rowing had you sit down on the Balance Board and rock back and forth or side to side, and as a result provided the most vigorous workouts.
The Gamepad also allows you to break away from the living room and use Wii Fit away from the television screen. You can also sync up a pedometer so that walking and running can contribute to the stats accumulated in the main game.
Join Digital Spy tomorrow (June 15) when we round up the best of the Wii U's third-party offerings from Ubisoft, Warner Bros. and more.