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Nintendo Wii U

In the weeks leading up to the Wii U's U.S. release, Nintendo had an online countdown clock ticking away the minutes until the console would be available to consumers.

Screen capture by HowStuffWorks

First announced at the 2011 Electronics Entertainment Expo, Nintendo's next-generation console, the Wii U, is predicted to be one of the hottest sellers of 2012.

The Wii U has a few new features you may like if you're looking to upgrade from the Wii, including high-def graphics, a tablet-like controller (with a touchscreen and motion controls), and an online gaming platform that hopes to compete with Xbox Live and the Playstation Network. Look for popular Nintendo game franchises to play on the Wii U including Mario, Madden NFL and Wii Fit.

In addition to being a gaming console, the Wii U will also be able to play video content through TVii and interact with favorite social media sites.

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