Nintendo wanted to get a jump on all things E3 this year and have a little pre show to talk about the Wii U before their conference on Tuesday so that the conference be reserved for game talk and not hardware. So here is a complete rundown with the full video displayed at the end. First off the Global President of Nintendo, Satoru Iwata, wanted to talk about their company and a term that has guided Nintendo since the early days of the company. The term is “Creating Something Unique” and hopes that you will think of all things Nintendo this week as a good kind of unique. Then he goes on and says that new technology has made things easier, but you have to ask yourself about how this affects the relationships of people and feels that they can try to unite people together with the Wii U.
The controller has gotten a bit of a makeover and is officially called the Wii U GamePad. The name is taken from the concept of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s controller and how it is flat with buttons versus the normal joystick style controllers of that time and in turn was called a “game pad”. So it seems that Nintendo is trying to get back to those original roots of what made the NES so popular in America. The new form of the Wii U GamePad includes actual thumb sticks versus the thumb pads so that you can operate it at 360 degrees and click for an L3/R3 effect as on the Playstation controllers (picture seen on left). The rear of the controller has changed as well with a new ergonomic look to it. The front get a little ergonomic adjustment with the buttons and Direction Pad located closer to the screen for easier access and extended comfortable gameplay sessions.
The front of the pad has a few new buttons as well, including an NFC Reader/Writer (used for select games I suppose) and a TV Control Button which allows your expensive Wii U GamePad to be a Wii U TV Remote via the touchscreen and you can press a button to turn the Wii U on (picture seen on right).
Iwata goes on to mention the unique functionality of the dual screen function of the GamePad and it has a dynamic experience. He refers to the term “asymmetric diversity in gameplay” as the experience of what is seen/being done is different than what is on the actual TV. Also with the touchscreen aspect of the pad you can use it to draw stuff or throw shurikens at the TV (picture seen on left) along with other methods. The Wii U will also have a gyro sensor and motion sensor that will allow people of all skill levels to play games successfully. This is all possible with the new powerful hardware from the Wii U.
Iwata also wants to express how you can take the controller anywhere since it is wireless and acts independently. Allowing you to play your games directly on the screen itself so that TV is freed up or so you can do a tabletop game with a friend on the Wii U GamePad. The pad can also seamlessly have HD graphics without any delay that was seen on the TV. Wii U will have support for the previous console’s accessories such as the Wii Remote, Nunchuk and Wii Balance Board. A new controller will be released as well for those who are interested in longer and more intense gaming sessions, and it will be called the Wii U Pro Controller (picture seen on right).
The question is asked whether Wii U is a simple evolution from Wii or something entirely different and Iwata believes it is a combination. Wii made a large impact on the family environment and almost made it a staple in society to have one at your house. The most memorable experiences made on the Wii, as Iwata mentioned, is made from when you were playing with other people and not just by yourself. So Nintendo also is getting bigger into the online gaming section and decided to show off their new stuff with a commercial at marker 12:40 on the video below or watch just the video here. The video is a very interesting interpretation of what happens to a gamer when he gets stuck on a level… I’ll uhhh let you watch it… although to save you the trouble of being disturbed just look at that picture. It sums everything implied for the commercial (picture seen on left). Iwata said it was a little different and he was right, I also think that phrase he used at the beginning referenced this part. The whole I hope you’ll find everything the good kind of unique. Did you?
So the Wii U has an interesting menu screen and is incredibly more non traditional than before. Instead of channels, the entire menu is an interactive Mii Plaza type deal (picture seen on right). Wara Wara is a Japanese term for a type of gathering and the noise that comes with it; since it is using the Mii feature, they aptly named it the Mii Wara Wara. The people seen on the screen will include all the Miis on your system, all your friends, and others from your country/speak the same language that are playing the same games as you, which the games are displayed by the tiles you see on the screen. However, the true navigation is done on the Wii U GamePad and will be complete with apps and all. This all will be a Miiverse where people can connect with each other across various areas. Other aspects of the online networking includes the way players communicate with each other. Since you have the dialogue displayed on the controller it is displayed right in front of you versus far away on a TV and the keyboard is right there on the screen and does not require an additional attachment. The communication among players is complete with a way to doodle to each other or write hand written messages. The Miiverse isn’t limited to just the menu screen though. It can be reached from inside the game at any time without interruption and if a developer chooses to, they can actually incorporate it into their game in however they see fit. Also they plan on blocking spoilers like how they block foul language on any sort of Miiverse incorporation in the games. Also don’t think they’ve left the Miiverse out of the GamePad, because it will act as social window that connects players to each other as well. There is going to be a challenge based achievement system as well. Pitting you against your friends in single and mulitplayer games to see how you rank among the leaderboards and is not limited to whether the game is connected to the internet or not. There are plans to eventually be able to take the Wii U social interactions outside of the house and onto your web enabled mobile devices, PC, or Nintendo 3DS. All of this is under the Nintendo Network which involves any current, and future Nintendo hardware.
Wii had 3 major concepts that it wished to change with its launch: 1. A change of the family and the game machine, 2. A chance of the game machine and the TV, 3. A change of the TV and the internet. The Wii U will make these changes even more possible with the addition of the GamePad. The internet functionality of the Wii U will extend with a full web browser on the GamePad and you will be able to share content to the TV that is viewed on the controller. One neat feature that the Wii U has is if you are giving a presentation or perhaps trying to surprise someone and don’t want them to see the navigation process on the web, you can hide what is being shown on the TV until you are ready to reveal it. A neat feature that can have multiple applications.
“A great idea solves multiple problems at the same time.”
The quote above embodies what Nintendo believes the Wii U is, a great idea. With the help of the Wii U GamePad it will solve the issue of the concept of “alone together” and produce more smiles, more laughs, and more empathy whether you are at home or connected to the homes of your friends. Iwata goes on to simply say, “Together, Better”. Also that they hope when you play it for the first time that you feel that it is the creation of something unique.
On a bit of a personal note to the Nintendo Direct, I believe the Wii U has a lot of potential to outshine the competition. It can provide a more friendly and interactive environment with friends and users while engaging them to play together. Originally during last year’s E3 at Nintendo’s Press Conference I was very upset with Nintendo and their decision to make the Wii U. The controller was horrible and mimicked a tablet with buttons and the console lacked innovation as it is a high definition version of the Wii. However with this I feel that they have the right ground work to do something extremely amazing and solve America’s (and the world’s) issue of being “alone together”. So with this I say good luck Nintendo and don’t disappoint with the software. I’m looking forward to being impressed enough to want to buy a Wii U.