"I actually am baffled by it," Bushnell told the New York Times. "I don’t think it’s going to be a big success."
Bushnell said that today's consoles such as Xbox 360 and PS3 are already capable of superb graphics - and that there is 'no need' for a new launch.
"These things will continue to sputter along, but I really don’t think they’ll be of major import ever again. It feels like the end of an era to me."
Nintendo's new console is due to launch this Friday in the UK, with 24 games available at launch, including a new Super Mario game.
The Wii U uses an iPad-style 6.2-inch touchscreen as the controller, and lets players play games on the controller's screen, on TV, or a mix of both.
The one-pound GamePad also works as a remote control for televisions, with the console delivering online TV services such as Netflix and YouTube.
Gamers have been impressed by the games - the title New Super Mario Bros U has an average 82% score on Metacritic. Game site IGN said, "Mario can and will appeal to everyone."
But the idea of a console that is also a dual-screen television has attracted the most attention - although many of these services will not launch until later in the year.
Families already use games consoles to watch television - 26% of households with a games console watch films and internet TV using it, according to 2012 Ofcom figures.
The new Wii U aims to build on that, acting as a hub for television, films and games.
The console will also let users watch a different channel or film on 10-inch 'GamePad' while others watch the television.
Many reviewers see the system - which also works with the motion-sensing 'WiiMote' controllers from its previous Wii - as a hybrid of Nintendo's Wii and its hit DS touchscreen.
Sales of Wii have dropped sharply over the past year, and game releases have dried up.
The new console offers HD graphics - unlike Wii - which bring it into line with consoles such as Xbox 360 and PS3.
Reviews have been mixed, with some praising the innovative 'second screen' technology, and others saying the GamePad is clumsy.
The GamePad is low-resolution compared to dedicated tablets such as
iPad, which offer screens sharper than today's hi-def televisions.
ABC News said, "Wii U has major potential and if Nintendo plays their cards right, the system can become a major player, especially once the media capabilities and game options are fully stocked. The second-generation Wii might not be as game-changing as the orginal, but it certainly is a lot of fun to play with."
TechRadar held back from offering a 'final' verdict - the online features, and many of Wii U's TV services, will not launch until December.
"Early Wii U launch titles look very similar to current games on the other home consoles – in part because many of the launch titles are top games from other systems, albeit with modifications and enhancements.
"For Nintendo's part, the company has finally ushered some of its franchises into high definition with New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land.
"And the Wii U is clearly positioned as the center of your digital universe. Apps for Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, and YouTube will be activated in the coming weeks, while the GamePad can be programmed to control your TV."
Technology site The Verge said, 'There are moments of brilliance, but for the moment these are overshadowed by the clumsiness of the system.
"It's a brand-new paradigm for video games, and there are clear and frustrating growing pains.
"The GamePad is too often confusing and illogically implemented, and it creates some really odd gaming experiences, especially when you're playing with friends.