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Nintendo Direct Pre-E3 Live Blog

Wii U

4th June 2012, 8:31am
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Nintendo has decided to pre-empt its own E3 presentation by broadcasting a Wii U information session on the Sunday before its big show. Satoru Iwata will be taking the stage to make some announcements, and we'll be live blogging the event. Stay tuned, and refresh the page!

 

7:30am: Iwata is discussing how Nintendo has always focussed on the creation of something unique, and promises this week will make you understand how unique the console is. The E3 conference will be about the games, so today is about Wii U and the ideology behind its design.

7:32am: Iwata discusses the way that families now sit on the couch "alone together". New tech makes life easier, but affects human relationships moving forward. Nintendo wants to unite people, whether in the same room, or miles apart.

7:34am: Wii U GamePad confirmed as the official name of the controller. Circle Pads are gone - real analog sticks are back because it doesn't need a flat profile like a portable system. Press them in to click down, too. Talking about refining design for comfort. Square on the left side is the NFC reader chip. Can press TV button in bottom right to turn on console and operate TV as full infrared remote.

7:37am: "Symmetric diversity" - different things on two different screens enables innovative gameplay. Motion and gyro sensors make it accessible to people less familiar with gaming consoles. Seems like we won't see any new games or graphics until Tuesday.

7:40am: Sometimes you can play on the controller only - in middle of a Wii Fit routine, with casual titles etc. High quality images are displayed on controller with no delay (console beams video over, no chips in the pad). Supports Wii remote, nunchuk and balance board. Wii U Pro controller is a lighter version of the Wavebird - refined classic design for hardcore gamers wanting a more traditional controller for longer game periods (separate purchase, obviously).

7:43am: Wii U does what Wii did, but better. It also does different things. Connects living rooms to living room.

Uh-oh. Pre-recorded comedy bit. Starts rough. Picks up. Nerd talking to himself. Gets killed in a zombie game. Talking aloud to "generic superhero action figure". Pauses and broadcasts a frustrated message, then seamlessly jumps to an in-built Wii U message board for tips. A friend at a café (Project Café was the console's codename - seems less like gibberish now) sees on his mobile that the first guy sucks. Tries to help, but the guy has already found a tip from another user on the game board. Player tries again, but dies. Video calls the random message board poster for advice (it's an awesome grandpa). Finally beats the zombie boss. Celebrates with figurine. Nintendo, you won me over. Kind of dorky awesome. And looks like the system will come in black.

7:47am: First look at system UI. Floating game icons in a Mii Plaza, referred to during development as Mii Wara Wara (term refers to noise and commotion of a gathering people). Shows real-time messages from people in the games. Miis congregate beneath the icons, which are of the most popular titles on the network, even if you don't have the game yourself. You'll see your Mii, other users on your system, your network friends' Miis, and other English-speaking players you don't know. It's the "Miiverse" - Miis from around the world meet and connect. Game pad shows traditional list of what you have on your system only so you can jump to what you want.

Simple messaging between Miis is enabled. Touchpad to type and draw. Easy to read when in palm of your hand. Add emoticons and post screenshots of your own gameplay. Transmit game content you've made yourself for others to use. Miiverse can be included in games. For example, in the first glimpse of an actual game, Mario dies in a 2D platformer (fancy crystal backgrounds in HD!) and the kill screen shows other comments from people who died at that spot.

7:53am: Gamepad is a "Social Window". Even when TV is off or not playing at same time, shows messages. Even in single player, when games are not designed for online interaction, players playing at same time, in different locations, can feel connected because they see other users' reactions. Will be enabled from 3DS, PC and web-enabled mobile (but after launch).

7:55am: In 2006, Iwata talked about how Wii would change the relationships between the family and game machine, game machine and TV, and TV and internet. Video chat and browser built in. Browser is normally mirrored on both screens, but you can put a curtain over the TV to add surprise or cover something you don't want everyone in the room to see.

7:58am: Wii U can solve the problem of "alone together", whether alone, or connected to the homes of your friends. It's "Together better". The Miiverse can connect you with friends, family and other people around the world, so even with no one else in the room you won't feel alone.

8:00am: E3 will be mostly about Wii U, with the big 3DS news to come in the future. Iwata finishes by revealing he will be tweeting from the official @NintendoAmerica account during the conference. And we're done.

 

If you missed it, you can see the full video below.

I see why they wanted to get this out the way early. Show off a bit of the system's UI, their intentions behind the system, and reinforce the features and tech that set Wii U apart from its competitors. Now they can wow us with all the blockbuster titles they've been stocking up.

I get the feeling Nintendo is kind of glad to be able to spend so much time on the Wii U as it means they can deflect from the 3DS a little. Gives them time to refocus, gather resources and games, and then come out swinging with the second wave of 3DS content (and system design?). Still, with just two days until we see our first real glimpses of HD Mario games, Zelda, and whatever Retro Studios has been cooking up, it's hard to imagine we'll leave the presentation wishing there'd been more time spent on the handheld.

See you Tuesday night!

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