Video game maker Nintendo unveiled its new Wii U this week, again focusing its innovations on the way gamers interact with games as it vies to maintain its lead on Sony and Microsoft.

The actual unit itself will not hit shelves for another year, but the Japan-based video-game maker debuted what the new controller will look like and how it will function.

The new system features a touchscreen controller that met positive reviews, igniting hope that the venerable video game company would attract a hardcore gaming crowd that has drifted to rivals.

Innovations to the controls made the first Wii made the market leader today.

While rivals focused on graphics and connectivity, Nintendo rolled out its motion-based wand controller, letting gamers play just by waving the unit around. The simplicity lured several million causal gamers, and analysts hope the same can happen this time.

It's still a tethered experience so it's not fully tablet-like, said BMO Capital Markets analyst Ed Williams. But without a doubt, they are ahead of their peers and are putting themselves in a different position.

Its 6.2-inch touchscreen works like a second display and can show images on the TV or whatever else the game is programmed to show the users. The concept is much like Nintendo's own DS handheld, which also features 2 screens.

The new controller can also be used to make calls and run old Nintendo games, giving it an allure for casual gamers, but it also features normal game-pad buttons for more hardcore ones as well. It has motion-sensor capabilities and works in conjunction with existing Wii controllers.

There are so many developers already responding to creating new games for the videogame system we are proposing with Wii U, said Nintendo global president Satoru Iwata. It can satisfy all tastes with deeper gameplay actions.

The device also acts as a stand-alone gaming gadget. It can, for instance, continue running a game on the touchscreen while someone else watches TV. But it functions only in wireless connection with a Wii U console.

The company also hinted what would be in the next game console itself. Joining its rivals, Nintendo will offer full 1080p HD resolution, offering crisp, detailed graphics.  No price or release date has been set.

With more than a year to market, Nintendo could still make modifications and the game slate might change.