New Sony Vita Portable Game Device

The highlight of Sony’s press conference at the annual E3 gaming conference was the release of details on pricing and software support for its upcoming handheld gaming system. Many details about the new Sony handheld’s specs were released when the system was first announced in January under the code name NGP (Next Generation Platform). The system received its official name at E3, the PlayStation Vita, named either for the Latin word for “life” or my favorite brand of pickled herring.

Two versions of the Vita are planned for release before the end of the year, a Wi-Fi only model priced at $249 and a Wi-Fi plus 3G version priced at $299. The proud announcement that 3G service in the U.S. would be provided exclusively by AT&T provoked some chuckles from the assembled audience of journalists, many of whom were probably struggling to get a cellular signal at that very moment on their iPhones. Pricing for the 3G service wasn’t announced.

The PS Vita boasts a 5-inch OLED display that looked handsome during system demos, but the main attraction based on gameplay is clearly the versatility of system control options. The Vita boasts a touchscreen, two analog thumb controllers, a touch-sensitive rear control surface, standard PSP directional control and PlayStation four-button control pad, plus six-access tilt sensitivity. There are two cameras, front and back, allowing augmented reality gaming and potentially video chat, though details on communication features are still unknown.

New Wii U Nintendo announced at E3

Nintendo has just unveiled the Wii U, the gaming giant’s next-generation console. The much-anticipated console was unveiled at Nintendo’s E3 press conference in Los Angeles.

Iwata talks Wii U at E3

Nintendo Global President Satoru Iwata teased the audience before the announcement. He told the audience that Nintendo’s goal with its new console is to make a system that will appeal to both hardcore and casual gamers.

“The goal of innovation is to serve every player — then though each brings to video games an individual appetite, a personal passion and a distinct gaming history,” Iwata said.

The console’s controller utilizes a touchscreen that can play games on its own. Its augmented reality system allows for direct interaction between the touchscreen and the television. It has a 6.2-inch screen with two analog controllers, a gyroscope and a front-facing camera. The controller isn’t a portable gaming device though — it gets its images streamed wirelessly from the console.

Nintendo demonstrated the power of the Wii U controller in a series of videos. One demo showed a user throwing ninja stars from the controller directly onto the TV. Another one showed the controller on the ground and a user using it as a golfing green surface with the Wiimote. Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime also announced one of the titles in development for Wii U: Lego City StoriesBatman: Arkham CityTom Clancey’s Ghost ReconTekkenNinja Gaiden 3 and Metro Last Light are also in development for the Wii U.

The console is backward-compatible with Nintendo Wii games and the Nintendo Wii controllers. In fact, some games can utilize both controllers, creating a new myriad of gameplay possibilities. The console will be available sometime in 2012.