Nintendo has revealed several new details about its Wii U console during a pre-E3 event they held a little while ago. Global President Satoru Iwata did the whole presentation which last approximately 30 minutes and revealed quite a few new details about Nintendo’s Wii U console. He led off by saying they wanted to get some of the highlights about the hardware out-of-the-way so that they could use all the time on Tuesday to focus on games.
The first thing he did was introduce the brand new Wii U controller, now officially called the Wii U Gamepad. It looks like a leaked image that we showed you of the controller was accurate as the major change is that the circle pad has been replaced by thumbsticks. Iwata said that ultimately Nintendo decided that circle pads were better suited for portable devices where a low profile was optimal. They made a few other tweaks to the form factor, particularly to the contours in the back to maximize comfort. Some of the controls on the front are also now slightly offcenter of each other, which should make holding and playing for long periods a lot more comfortable. There is an icon on the left side of the Wii U Gamepad which is a NFC reader/writer.
Next, he revealed that while the Wii U Gamepad can be used to turn the Wii U itself on and off, it can also be used as basically a universal touchscreen TV remote. The also showed a lot of video of the Wii U Gamepad and the Wii U console itself interacting with each other seamlessly. The shot that really caught my attention was one where a girl placed the Wii U Gamepad on the ground, on the Wii U Gamepad screen was a golf ball. The girl then swing a Wii U remote and hit the golf ball and it went flying across the screen and down onto the fairways, can you say that’s going to be truly awesome in the next Tiger Woods golf game. The Wii U Gamepad can also do tons of other stuff you would suspect such as act as a canvas for you to draw. The Wii U will as previously stated be compatible with the Wii remote, nunchuk and Wii balance board.
To show that Nintendo is learning from the past, Iwata next unveiled the Wii U Pro Controller, this is a more traditional looking controller that looks similar to a lot of third-party controllers you have probably seen. One of the biggest complaints about the Wii was that it didn’t have the traditional controller that hardcore players are comfortable with so it made playing games like Call Of Duty or Batman: Arkham City pretty much impossible. The Wii Pro Controller will go a long way towards getting hardcore gamers to at least give the console a shot. Then came a minor but important factoid when multiple videos revealed that the Wii U, Wii U Gamepad and Wii U Pro Controller will apparently come in both black and white.
From there Mr. Iwata started talking a lot more about the social aspects of Wii U. He showed a video where a guy was stuck on a certain part of a game, pops out of the game to post a question about that section on an activity feed for the game. At that same time, people on Wii U itself as well as people on mobile devices start to respond. The guy gets a tip from a guy on the feed and then pops back into the game to try it. It doesn’t work so he then uses the Wii U Gamepad to make a Skype type video call using the Gamepad’s camera. He chats the guy up and then gets the missing piece of info he needed to beat the part where he was stuck. I have to admit that feature might be really nice, instead of having to pop onto an Internet message board to find help, you just pop onto these activity feeds and get real-time help from people playing the game.
Then Iwata talked about something called Mii Wara Wara, it’s a place that has your Mii, the Mii of every person who has an account on your Wii U, your friends and the Miis of people around the world who have a Wii U. The proper term for this place is the Miiverse or Mii Universe. This is a world that is Native to the Wii U that it boots to every time you turn the console on, so forget static themes or skins though they may still be available. The Miiverse can be activated at anytime during the game without having actually leave your game. This is a feature sorely needed, since with consoles like the PS3, if you want to use certain core functions you have to actually close out your game first. From within the Miiverse you can text back and forth with your friends, you can even send handwritten messages and scribbles if you like. Miis can post screenshots from game’s you are playing as well. The Miis can even transmit game data that they have created and send it to someone else to use in their game. He didn’t really go into how this would work but I’m sure we will see more during Tuesday’s press event, I’m thinking something similar to what folks do in LittleBigPlanet.
He did clarify that the Miiverse will be integrated in some form or fashion with EVERY Wii U game. He noted that even if your game is single player only, the Miiverse will still allow you to connect with others in some fashion. In the video, they showed a guy essentially interacting with the Miiverse through his mobile device. Iwata said that app will not be available at the Wii U’s launch but will eventually be available on your Nintendo 3DS, PC, and mobile devices. Bringing all this together will be the Nintendo Network, which Iwata said will bring together 7 generations of Nintendo hardware. He didn’t really get into Nintendo Network, but it’s about time that Nintendo have a network because they were severely behind on that front.
The Wii U and Wii U Gampad will also have Internet browsing and will have the ability to let you share what you are doing on your screen with those watching TV. He even showed a feature where let’s say a kid wanted to show his mom who’s cooking in the kitchen a picture he had drawn on the Wii U Gamepad. If she can see the TV from where she is, he can actually cause curtains to close over the TV screen, get the picture just the way he likes it and send it to the TV screen and then pull back the curtains to show her what he’s drawn. Iwata said that this is where the “browser becomes entertainment”.
Iwata closed by saying that he can’t wait for folks to see what they have in store in terms of gameplay at their press conference on Tuesday and said that he will be tweeting throughout E3 on Nintendo’s official account. We still didn’t get any pricing or release date info but I assume that will be handled on Tuesday. If you missed it then you can go back and watch the replay below. Alright folks, that’s all I got, hit up the comments and let us know what you think about the new details!!