The GamePad acts as a high-tech scanner in "ZombiU" that can analyze a player's surroundings in a version of London overrun by zombies. It pumps up the terror by drawing players' attention away from the horrors lurking around them.
Will gamers who've grown up with their eyes glued to the TV and hands gripped on a controller adapt to glimpsing at another screen? The Wii U edition of "Call of Duty: Black Ops II," for example, invites players to customize their arsenal on the fly on the GamePad, as well as engage in multiplayer matches without needing to split the TV in half.
Nintendo expects 50 games will be available for the Wii U by March 2013. There will be 23 games released alongside the console when it debuts Sunday, including the platformer "New Super Mario Bros. U," karaoke game "Sing Party," an "armored edition" of "Batman: Arkham City" and the Mickey Mouse adventure "Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two."
"New consoles come along and nobody exploits their full capabilities for the first two to three years," said Warren Spector, creative director at "Epic Mickey 2" developer Junction Point Studios. "It's only after you've had two or three projects that you fully understand what the hardware is capable of doing. We're going to be experimenting with it more."
Fils-Aime said he's already envisioning ways that developers will innovate with future games. He pointed to some of the console's features that aren't on display in the launch line-up, such as the ability to play with two GamePads at once or utilize the console's near-field communication technology to interact with other gadgets in the room.
"I think that developers and consumers are ready for new experiences," said Fils-Aime. "More than anything else, I think that's what is driving excitement for Wii U. They've experienced what this generation has to offer. They're ready for something new."
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang.