Nintendo showed off its new video game console, the Wii U, today at the E3 trade show in Los Angeles. The new system ships in the second half of 2012 and will feature a handheld touchscreen controller with a six-inch screen. Here are some close-up pictures of the console and controller.

Nintendo has several different game prototypes on display. This HD demo above showed that the Wii U can do great high-definition, though perhaps not as good as the best HD that we’ve seen. The Wii U controller can display exactly what you can see on the big screen, as shown above, or it can display some other useful information, such as a mini strategic map. The Nintendo DS has demonstrated the value of having two screens for different purposes.OAnother prototype game that Nintendo showed was Chase Mii (above). In this game, you could play a central Mii character (using your avatar, or character, from the Wii), with the tablet controller. And four other players using traditional Wii controllers could chase you around a map. You can see a map from above that shows where your pursuers are. But the four players with the Wii controllers can only see their own third-person view from the ground level. The object is for the four Wii players to chase the Wii U controller player.

The Wii U controller is pretty light and it is pretty responsive. But let’s hope that Nintendo improves the industrial design over time so that it can be just as appealing as an Apple iPad. The big white plastic tablet looks like it is made for kids. Perhaps Nintendo could make one tablet controller for kids, another for teens, and still another for adults.

The tablet controller has an accelerometer and a gyroscope, a rumble feature, an inward-facing camera, a microphone and speakers. The controller also has a Nintendo Classic Controller button scheme – two analog Circle Pads, +Control Pad, A/B/X/Y buttons, L/R buttons and ZL/ZR buttons.