oh, and the virtual boy wasn't convensional either.
Agreed. Anyone really trying to say this was aimed 100% or even 70% at hardcore players ... lol. Look at the unveil video ... the first game shown literally is NSMB. Then Wii Sports. Then Wii Fit. Basically the big three Wii titles. And they're all shown in the "Wii element" (casuals at home).
The issue was the tablet controller wasn't interesting because the iPad basically already could do all those things.
The Wiimote, Nintendo basically had a window about 4 years before anyone made a motion controller. The DS same thing they had a window of about 3-4 years before anyone else made a touchscreen gaming device aimed at casuals.
Wii U was more like "oh hey, this is kind of like the iPad we already own". That's why casuals didn't gravitate to it. But it's also the risk in betting the farm on a control scheme for casuals. If someone else beats you to the punch, you're basically f*cked.
Also I would agree the NES was basically a conventional console. The main difference between it and the Atari 2600 was the flattened joystick (the d-pad) and having two buttons instead one. That and the NES had massively more processing power than the Atari did so you could create far more complex games, games which scrolling worlds (vertical and horizontal), more expressive visual designs, smoother gameplay.
The "gimmick stuff" for the NES were things like R.O.B. which they threw in to try and get stores to stock the machine, but really they were never integral to the NES they were just well ... gimmicks. The core part of the NES is still the same basic console layout that continues to be used today by Sony/MS.