AS excitement builds about the forthcoming release of the PS4 and the XBox One, you could be forgiven for forgetting about Nintendo's offering.

The successor to the Wii, snappily titled the Wii U (where do they get these names from?), has, since its release last November, been somewhat anonymous.

Only 3.45 million Wii Us have been sold worldwide, and even the PS3, which is now seven years old, is still selling more units per month.

The U hasn't seen anything like the excitement that surrounded the release of its enormously popular predecessor, of which nearly 100 million have been sold worldwide.

But why?

The Wii was a turning point in the games console industry.

While Sony and Microsoft were busy planning the usual increased processor and graphical power of their next generation consoles, Nintendo had come up with something completely different - revolutionary, even.

Its modest graphical power was secondary to its completely original controller system.

Wow! You can play tennis in your front room! Cool! You can swing your arms and hit people with sticks! Amazing!

A load of cheesy adverts of families playing together were blasted into our brains, and even Girls Aloud and Ant and Dec were playing on our TV screens - so they must be good.

Suddenly people who had never played a game before in their lives were rushing out to buy them, and Nintendo had found themselves a whole new market - the "casual" gamer.

Fast forward a few years and Nintendo must have been scratching their heads about how they could repeat the trick - and they have gloriously failed.

The Wii U attempts to be all things to all men - a console that appeals to both the casual and the hardcore gamer - but ends up doing neither.

The chief innovation is a controller with a screen, much like a DS, which, while a reasonably interesting idea, has limited practical use or appeal.

Hardcore gamers will notice that Nintendo are still streets behind Sony and Microsoft in the hardware stakes, which means many of the big popular games, mainly first person shooters, are not being developed for the Wii U.

Meanwhile, those fickle casual gamers see no reason to upgrade. They already have a Wii, with its simple and elegant control system.

They have no desire to increase their computing power, and the Wii U is simply too complex and too fiddly to interest people who just want to pull it out every few months during a family gathering, a bit like a digital version of Trivial Pursuit.

Nintendo's only hope now is to re-attract some of their loyal followers with forthcoming new Mario and Zelda games - although why these big hitters were not released at the same time as the Wii U in the first place is anyone's guess.