Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wii U pre-E3 preview focuses on connectivity through hardware, but light on games

Nintendo fires an opening salvo ahead of E3 tomorrow with a pre-E3 conference of its on Nintendo Direct, focused on the Wii U.  Before you get too excited, Nintendo has confirmed it won't actually be showcasing any library of Wii U games today.  Instead, the console giant's live stream, hosted by president Satoru Iwata, will once again promote the concept of the new hardware.
Iwata kicks off the presentation with an idealistic message of uniting people through the Wii U as a tool.  The Wii U controller is introduced as the GamePad, and Iwata confirms the changes made to it since E3 last year.  The Wii U GamePad also doubles as an infrared TV remote with a built-in NFC reader.
The Wii U GamePad also pushes what Iwata described as "asymmetric diversity" in gameplay, which perhaps in simple terms is the different ways the built-in screen (described as a "Social Window") can work with the action on the main televsion screen.  Iwata also confirms the "Wii U Pro Controller", which is a more standard console controller in the vein of the Classic Controller Pro.  The Wii U hardware itself will continue to support existing Wii controllers including the Balance Board.
The preview also included a lively presentation that serves as a demonstration of how someone could connect with others while playing Wii U games, specifically contacting other players using the GamePad to get help through text messaging or video chat through the GamePad (the main television is used during actual communication).  What's interesting is that other gamers will even be able to get these updates on their web-enabled smartphones once they have the relevant app.
Iwata then discusses the Wii U main screen, awkwardly dubbed "Mii Wara Wara" where all the Miis on your system will congregate alongside others across your country to share experiences.  This doubles as a "Miiverse" network plaza, displayed on both the GamePad and main television, where Miis from other gamers display what titles they might be enjoying at the moment, or even share in-game content like screenshots.
Users can communicate with Miis using text messaging on the Wii U browser either through the GamePad.  The GamePad also supports hand-written notes that users can share on the Miiverse.  After launch, gamers will also be able to communicate in this fashion using the 3DS, PC or smartphones.
Ideally, Wii U games will be designed to take advantage of this social network anytime during gameplay through the GamePad's Home button.
Nintendo's main event is still on Tuesday morning, with separate presentations covering the Wii U games and hardware, including the hardware specs itself.


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