E3 2011 Viewpoints: Nintendo Wii U and 3DS | (yes, Nintendo's next console is pronounced, "We You")

Bill Loguidice's picture

After starting off with Microsoft, Sony, and Apple, it's only fitting we conclude with Nintendo, and the biggest announcement of the week: Nintendo Wii U. I'll also talk about how my predictions from April 19, 2011, based on previous rumors, worked out, inline, as appropriate (EDIT: You can read for yourself, actually, so I won't inline comment, I'll just say that I was correct in my prediction that the controller would be the ONLY innovation, in that any other expected innovations would add too much to the cost beyond the fancy controller):

  • Nintendo Wii U, "equally satisfying for all players" (hardcore and casual). Released some time in 2012 (Nintendo's focus this year is 3DS, with more franchise titles (Mario Kart, Star Fox, Kid Icarus, Mario, Luigi's Mansion)). I'm not sure I'm a fan of the name. I probably like it even less than I did "Wii", which did eventually grow on me. We'll see.
  • The controller looks a lot like a white tablet. It's generously sized (it has a 6.2" screen--goodness knows what the controller will be priced separately!). Pen-enabled. Also works with a finger. The screen (mock-up or not), looks very nice. It's a motion controller too and can play games stand-alone or in conjunction with a TV. It also has a camera (voice and video chat enabled). Nice!
  • Nintendo definitely took inspiration from Apple's iPad here. It's like the bastard child of an iPad 2 and Wii, with a little Xbox 360 thrown in for good measure.
  • It's backwards compatible with all the games and peripherals of the Wii.
  • Games appear to work differently if a player is using the new controller or a Wii Remote. There looks to be a lot of emphasis on the motion control features of the controller.
  • It's NOT designed to be a portable game machine, even though it shares some design characteristics. Everything is wirelessly transmitted from the console (no latency).
  • They talked a lot about HD images on TV or on the controller's screen. So this is definitely HD (EDIT: The console will output 1080p to the TV, but the controller screen will NOT be HD). Based on the non-gameplay and other graphics they showed, it's quite impressive looking, so probably at LEAST a little more powerful than Xbox 360 and PS3.
  • The Nunchuk port on the bottom of the controller is interesting, as it can also be used to snap the screen controller onto plastic peripherals.
  • They emphasized video chat and showing photos on your TV.
  • They talked about the expected interaction between Wii U and 3DS games, with Smash Brothers being the example.
  • They mentioned ONE game in particular (third parties mentioned others, like Batman: Arkham City and EA Sports stuff), Lego City Stories, a new open world game (exclusive to Wii U and 3DS). Beyond that, they made sure to mention what would be considered hardcore (core) gamer titles.
  • They talked a bit about online stuff, so hopefully they'll be more committed to the concept this time. The hardware is certainly there for it, at least.
  • There was no mention of storage or other specifics, so we'll probably have quite the wait for details like that.

As for the 3DS:

  • Nothing special here outside of the usual future game releases (which, like the other platforms, are what they are), but Nintendo did release the 3DS Web browser and activate its online store yesterday, which they talked about again today. They even included a free Pokemon 3D viewer and a temporarily free 3D version of the original Excitebike. I'll report back when I have a chance to put in some quality time with them.
  • There was brief mention of 3D updates perhaps via the 3DS Virtual Console of retro console software, "even before the NES". There was stuff before the NES?

So what do I think of the Wii U? Outside of the lame name, I think the core concepts and ideas are great if they can be executed smoothly. As more specifics are revealed in the coming months, I'll definitely provide further thoughts, but first impressions are quite good. The backwards compatibility thing is certainly appreciated as well, though I wonder if that extends all the way back to the GameCube?

So, there you have it. All the Microsoft, Sony, Apple, and Nintendo updates in their own respective blog posts. Let's hear your own thoughts in the comments!

Comments

davyK
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Just had a quick look at some

Just had a quick look at some of the videos. Looks very interesting. Some of the games using the screen + wiimotes look like a progression of the old Gamecube and GBA set up - particularly the excellent Pacman vs from back then.

I think I remember a few people here predicting touch screen controllers for the original Wii......we were ahead of the game!!!

clok1966
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who won

been reading the "you know its comming" comments on who WON the show.. seems most sites seem to echo each other..

Nintendo won for best hardware
Sony for most interesting games (and most games to show period)
and not much to say on xbox

common comments "to much kenict and not much else" I feel like a profit now. but watch, kinect will spank me hard by being the most loved product of the next year. Sony Vita looked good and great price (suprising to me as they keep saying Nintendo won the hardware part of the show). Sony still has bungling presenters and move looked like an aferthought.

Bill Loguidice
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Winning

I thought Microsoft did as well as they could without new hardware and I think made the best effort to improve their current hardware (via software) and as they should, since it's their ONLY hardware). Sony and Nintendo obviously had new hardware to showcase, which helped dramatically. I thought the Nintendo conference was dreadful outside of the big reveal, but then I was never one to be enamored with Nintendo IP's.

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clok1966
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I have no doubt most if not

I have no doubt most if not all the comments are tinged with some fanboyism.. being objective is impossible to me.. even when i try. Those where just the comments that i picked out and Im sure I have some favortisim in my picks too (heck I know i do).. I been reading alot about the Apoligy gave by Sony.. it was the only part of the show that wasnt on a prompter. I must admit it nice he said it without reading it from a prompter, but I really doubt it was off the cuff, it was well planned in advance. I find it funny how people are so easlily swayed but "percived" stuff.. Like he "just decided" to say that... Again its nice he did it.

More comments:

Nintendo's dang controler is bigger than the console!
the sony apologiy stuff
and suprisingly alot on the nintendo IP's.. lots of people excited about a new Link... and 2 (yes 2) smash brother games.. I'm with Bill on this.. so what.

Im wondering how this new "format" for the 360 disc is going to go over.. I know its a nice stab at the pirates.. (I myslef own a Jtag 360 for my room, easy way to keep games from getting destroyed, and anybody is free to come over and examine my HD, not a single game on it I dont own in disc format... well excpt the emulations stuff and MAME).
it will kill all flashed drives, all jtags (for new games) etc... 2 birds with one stone.. more storage and less pirates.. not to bad.. if it dont harm legit users (and i know ther have been a very small precent it has...)

Nous
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You're wrong Bill. A present

You're wrong Bill. A present high end PC is actually a whole 10 times (1000%) faster/more powerful (in terms of graphics and frame rates) than a 360/PS3 and even then the difference that you see is noticeable, to be sure, but "incremental" .. not radical. With JUST 100% more power you wouldn't be able to see practically ANY difference at all! Anything less than that, forget it - you're just adding to the cost without any perceptible benefit.

So, again .. if it is indeed "slightly" more powerful ... or knowing Nintendo even slightly LESS powerful ... I would like to see the price point for that thing because Nintendo sure as hell isn't going to compromise their margins just like they didn't with the 3DS (which is hardly more powerful than a PSP and yet it costs twice as much - or vice versa, costs exactly the same as the far superior PS Vita).

What you should probably say is, let's see how much of a differentiating factor the controller will be in order to justify the price tag!

P.S. To put it simply, performance and quality will be on par - not a differentiating factor. So let's see what the price will be, and how the new controller-with-built-in-screen thing will pan out.

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Bill Loguidice
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Whatever you say, Nous, but I

Whatever you say, Nous, but I disagree with you on the performance thing. I can't make it any clearer. Given the timeframes involved, there's no reason that the performance can't be slightly better and be noticeable in ways that core gamers might appreciate (higher frame rate, farther draw distance, etc.) and at a margin that Nintendo will be comfortable with. Like I said, I don't think Joe Q. Public would notice anyway, since these are the same people that use composite cables and think they're getting hi-def.

I do agree with you about the controller. It will definitely be the differentiating factor. That's obvious, though, as the justification for the system is the controller, not the hi-def parity. The fact that it's backwards compatible with all the Wii stuff is also a big plus in the system's favor too, since that will score points with the casual crowd who think they want that. The Nintendo franchises and the parity third party support will see to the rest. It should have a strong first year of sales, then once PS4 and Xbox 360-2 hit, all bets are off depending upon Sony's and Microsoft's respective responses...

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Nous
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Do you understand that a

Do you understand that a current high-end PC is easily between 5 and 10 times (500% - 1000%) more capable than a 360/PS3 ? If that's the kind of improvement you are expecting the user to be able to perceive (i.e. similar to what you'd get on a high end PC) then you are indeed talking about many, many times faster, more capable hardware - certainly not merely an 100% improvement! (so we DO agree!)

Do you understand that while our perception of incremental difference is linear it corresponds to exponential changes in actual performance (and associated cost) ?

I am not saying it's impossible for it to be even up to 100% times "better" than a 360/PS3. What I am saying is that the perceived difference of that will be negligible versus what a high end PC or the actual next-gen XBox720/PS4 will offer -- but here's the really interesting question, what will be the price of all this?? Will it be $199 or $249 (as the likely price of a PS3 will be around that time) ?

I fear the price point will be a bit too high, just like we saw with the 3DS (versus the similarly specced PSP or the far superior PSVita)

But it's obvious it all depends on the content (the unique content, might I say) that will be on it, and of course how big a role the controller will play in the end.

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Bill Loguidice
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Controller-centered console
Nous wrote:

I am not saying it's impossible for it to be even up to 100% times "better" than a 360/PS3. What I am saying is that the perceived difference of that will be negligible versus what a high end PC or the actual next-gen XBox720/PS4 will offer -- but here's the really interesting question, what will be the price of all this?? Will it be $199 or $249 (as the likely price of a PS3 will be around that time) ?

We're saying the same thing, so I really don't know what you're going on about. We both agree it should in some overall way be at least a little more powerful than the Xbox 360/PS3 and that only core gamers are likely to notice the difference. We also both agree that Nintendo will do so within the parameters of what a healthy margin would be in 2012.

I'd be shocked if the price exceeded $299, but we might see $329, who knows? The price of the PS3 or Xbox 360, each of which could be $149 in some iteration or another by then, is irrelevant. People like shiny new things, and consoles are still form factors that don't have direct competition like handhelds do. With full Wii compatibility, the Wii U is a logical upgrade for the countless Wii owners out there, and surely plenty of core gamers will be attracted to the thing as well. While it's not necessarily my ideal, I can see real appeal for being able to play your console game with or without the TV, among some of the other hooks present.

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Nous
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Actually I corrected you

Actually I corrected you (hence me saying "you are wrong Bill")

You said that in order to see the kind of improvement that one may get from a current high end PC versus a PS3/360 it won't require 100% more powerful hardware. This is an utterly incorrect statement :)

We agree on everything else of course.

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Bill Loguidice
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Nice!
Nous wrote:

Actually I corrected you (hence me saying "you are wrong Bill")

You said that in order to see the kind of improvement that one may get from a current high end PC versus a PS3/360 it won't require 100% more powerful hardware. This is an utterly incorrect statement :)

We agree on everything else of course.

You think you corrected me, but you didn't. If you'd like to correct me, you might want to choose correcting something I actually stated. I think that would be more helpful.

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