On store shelves, nearly

And so it's almost here, a new home console launch from Nintendo. We only have one of these every five years or more, and North America gets out of the gate first to soak up the new system and put it through its paces. It brings plenty of new features to the table, including its impressive GamePad, a new online focus with services such as Miiverse, and also signals Nintendo's first foray into HD gaming. For fans of the company, in particular, it's an exciting time.

We'll only know in time whether Wii U delivers and meets expectations, and we're certainly looking forward to exploring the console thoroughly and bringing you substantial review coverage — we're on the case so please bear with us. And of course, we have plenty of staff members in North America, with quite a few joining many others to pick up a Wii U at launch. There'll also be a live blog running tomorrow where we'll encourage you to join in and share your launch day experiences; in the meantime, four of our U.S staff have decided to outline what they're looking forward to the most with Wii U, now that it's so close.

Not surprisingly, playing Wii U alone isn't at the forefront of their minds.

Ron DelVillano

I've never really been a huge fan of multiplayer gaming, but I'm actually excited about the online multiplayer potential that the Wii U has shown. Sure, the lack of achievements and the bragging-rights that come with them is a bit of a letdown, but I still look forward to connecting with other Nintendo gamers, and hopefully plenty of Nintendo Life community folk.

I'm probably most excited about all of the different media integration that the Wii U is capable of. Finally having a Nintendo console capable of HD output is a total game-changer for media of all sorts. I'm a big advocate of spending too much time watching television shows, so when Nintendo TVii was finally shown with the Gamepad being used as a universal remote, my excitement went through the roof (though TVii is, unfortunately, delayed until December).

Joe Walker

What I'm most excited about is how multiplayer-focused the system and interface are. My wife and I love playing co-op games together and Wii U is primed to be the best venue for our adventures. The ability to share save files between user profiles is a big bonus, but I think the biggest plus for us, while controversial, is the lack of an achievement system.

Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure was our favourite game from 2011, but we played it on the Xbox 360, and so when one of us would start earning achievements the other wanted to earn them too, forcing us to play through the game twice and focusing on completing arbitrary goals rather than enjoying the game proper. Wii U's focus looks to be enjoying the games themselves, and we can't wait to dive in!

Morgan Sleeper

I've noticed that whether I'm talking to my family, friends, or significant other, I keep referring to my pre-ordered system as "our Wii U", and that lilting string of pronouns sums up exactly what I'm most excited for in Nintendo's new console. I love playing games, but more than that I love sharing games with other people, and the Wii U looks set to open up a warp-pipe full of wonderfully creative new ways to do that. From Miiverse interactions and online play with faraway friends to asynchronous play and co-op a-go-go with couch-side companions, I'm looking forward to a whole lot of multiplayer fun with the Wii U!

Shaan Joshi

When I first saw the Wii U Gamepad, the first thing that popped into my head was a GameCube game titled Pacman Vs. This simple title, designed by Miyamoto himself, used the Gameboy Advance to GameCube Link Cable, which made for some hectic, yet fun, 1 vs. 3 asymmetrical multiplayer.

Every new console will have some sort of better CPU, better graphics card, and more memory, but what's always made Nintendo systems stand out (recently) are the various controllers and input devices they implemented, whether that be a Wii Remote, the DS/3DS touch screen, or in this case, the Wii U GamePad. Growing up the lone gamer in a house of five, I'm excited to see what new forms of multiplayer gaming the Wii U will bring, especially if that means being able to ease my sister or parents into gaming, which they have normally shied away from.

Bring on the Wii U!

Don't forget to stay tuned for our launch day coverage and live blogging tomorrow, where some of the team will bring regular updates and images of their Wii U shenanigans. We'll be asking you to get involved, too, so keep a camera handy.