Nintendo struggled to keep up with its competition in the last generation of consoles. Though the Nintendo Wii sold incredibly well and became somewhat of a phenomenon, its low quality graphics, terrible online functionality and focus on motion controls were detrimental to its overall progress in the gaming world. With consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s Playstation 3 offering stunning HD graphics and phenomenal online capabilities, the Nintendo Wii was at a steep disadvantage when it came to quality. Developers also found it much easier to produce games for Microsoft and Sony, leaving Nintendo to survive on video game franchises like Donkey Kong and Mario to keep its console afloat. Though financially successful, the Nintendo Wii was a huge disappointment for many gamers. Released on November 18, 2012, The Wii U is Nintendo’s newest console, geared specifically toward social play. It’s also Nintendo’s first HD console, showing off vibrant colors and animations that rival the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Unlike the Wii before it, the Wii U is being sold in two versions. The “Basic” white model, which costs $299.99, comes with limited memory (8 GB), along with all of the necessities for the console. Meanwhile, the “Deluxe” model carries more memory (32 GB), along with everything in the “Basic” model. The black-colored “Deluxe” Wii U also comes with a few add-ons like stands and a charging station, as well as “Nintendoland,” a game designed to show off the Wii U’s most enticing feature: the GamePad. The GamePad is Nintendo’s most recent innovation, and arguably the Wii U’s best selling point. Incorporating features from modern tablets, the GamePad features a large touch pad along with a camera and microphone, allowing you to communicate with others online or be shown on the television as you play a game. Of course, it also acts as the primary controller, containing face and trigger buttons along with two analog sticks. The Gamepad is surprisingly light and anything shown on its screen looks very crisp and clear. Yet, it’s the way that Nintendo has incorporated it into video games that makes it so appealing. It's true that the Wii U is a social platform. Though it does contain online capabilities, the console is at its best when everyone is in the same room. For example, in a mini-game from “Nintendoland” called “Mario Chase,” five players can play at once. Four players wield Wii remotes, (which must have Wii Motion Plus) while one player uses the GamePad. The goal for those using the Wii remotes is simple: they must catch the one player that is using the GamePad. Those using the Wii remotes have a limited view on the television and must communicate to their fellow players where they see the runner. However, the one player using the GamePad has a view of the entire map, as well as where everyone is. His job is to run away and not get caught for an extended period of time. What follows is a game all about communication and quick thinking. The four players have to find a way to corner the GamePad user while he runs around the map trying to keep his location a secret. Wii U’s online features are interesting, if not somewhat underutilized at the moment. You can become friends with virtually anyone, and there are certain games where you can write or draw comments or hints into the game for struggling players. Right now, there aren’t a lot of games that can be played online. Both Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Assassin’s Creed 3 have online components and are available for the Wii U, but the majority of players would rather experience these games on the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 because that’s where you’ll find the larger online communities, as of right now. The Wii U is just a few months old, so it will take some time for a large online following to accrue. The features look promising, but Nintendo will have to show us how they can be utilized efficiently with some of its own games. The Wii U is a solid investment for you and your friends. However, if you’re into more solo-oriented video games, then it’s probably best that you hold off on purchasing Nintendo’s newest console. The Wii U is definitely at its best in a social setting, and if you can’t provide it this, there’s not much to marvel at here. Still, the clever uses of the GamePad are definitely worth experiencing, regardless of your appreciation for multiplayer games. If “Nintendoland” is any indication of what Nintendo hopes to achieve with its newest console, the Wii U has a bright future ahead of it.