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

clok1966
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old
TripHamer wrote:
Bill Loguidice wrote:

It would be nice if they included a battery powered one this time with optional connection to the system for convenience. After all, the cable from the sensor to the Wii is only there to provide power.

Radio Shack...a couple of (photo/IR diodes? I forget) and some batteries? I bought what I needed a while ago but never assembled them.

you wanna go old school, i seem to remeber 2 candles woudl work too (ir was that joke video ?)

clok1966
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Opps 2 comments.. Nintendo

Opps 2 comments.. Nintendo has really been the smartes of the bunch... profit on hardware, making sure there IP's stay quality (and they are getting away with pusing quanity too!!!!)

there has been some discussion on cutting edge and power and what it yields that the average consumer will see. I think this is Nintendos strong point and one MS and SONY dont see... Pushing that hardware so you can show some bar graph that your graphics are bette then thiers.. but in a side by side in game play nobody can tell (hardly ever).. Nintendo knows it.. the Wii was far from a power house, havel the games for it look like flash games (wii sports etc..) the fun wasnt in the poly count, it was in the game! DIPsticks like me will alwasy love our PC's for the power it brings.. as we play MINECRAFT :) power does sell.. but make no mistake... FUN does too... the Wii proved that .. even if part of the Fun was a new way to control stuff.

TripHamer
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I seem to recall
clok1966 wrote:

you wanna go old school, i seem to remeber 2 candles woudl work too (ir was that joke video ?)

I seem to recall that that does work, but who wants to burn 2 candles on top of their tv?

Anyway, I recall watching a video that showed the simple construction and demonstrated it. I don't think it was a hoax.

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Bill Loguidice
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As expected, no GameCube

As expected, no GameCube games: http://www.joystiq.com/2011/06/08/wii-u-doesnt-play-gamecube-games/

That's the same arbitrary cut-off in backwards compatibility that the successor DS systems had. No big deal all told, but it still would have been a "free" add for them...

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TripHamer
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Only 1 U controller.

http://www.geekosystem.com/wii-u-cannot-be-bought-separately/

Seems that you can only have 1 U controller per system. That's fine for me, but so much for party mode....you'll have to pass it around. You'll probably have to order replacements directly from Nintendo. I don't see stores carrying many of these if they aren't going to sell that often. So forget $99 - $129.

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Bill Loguidice
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Perhaps
TripHamer wrote:

http://www.geekosystem.com/wii-u-cannot-be-bought-separately/

Seems that you can only have 1 U controller per system. That's fine for me, but so much for party mode....you'll have to pass it around.

I was hesitant to report that because I'm not sure if it's going to hold true for a variety of reasons. For instance, what happens if the controller fails and needs to be replaced? It goes against the whole multiplayer aspect and it also goes against the whole core gamer integration thing. What are players 2 - 4 supposed to use? The Wii Remote and Nunchuk are not 1:1 replacements for dual analog sticks, for instance. So, unless they're going to release an Xbox 360-like controller for players 2 - 4 (which is certainly possible) to match everything but the touchscreen part on the primary controller, I'm going to chalk this one up to rampant speculation for now, despite the apparent source.

Of course, I could be VERY wrong, because Nintendo never did show two of those controllers working at the same time. If not, then that's a pretty big fail in my book, because the first player would always be the beneficiary.

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Matt Barton
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It looks like the idea is for

It looks like the idea is for multiple players to use the same controller, setting it down and sitting on opposite ends of it.

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Bill Loguidice
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Multiplayer
Matt Barton wrote:

It looks like the idea is for multiple players to use the same controller, setting it down and sitting on opposite ends of it.

Not really. That's just tablet-style same system gaming, which is why they showed that board game. You can do the same thing on the iPad with games like Scrabble or Air Hockey, and they even showed an equivalent on the Sony Vita. It's not really going to work for anything too involved, particularly on a six inch non-HD screen. It's just a feature they're showing off, a gimmick, like being able to draw on the screen with the stylus. They're getting all the bullet points in there.

All they've officially demonstrated for multiplayer is player 1 with the touchscreen controller and the other players with Wii Remotes and/or Wii Remotes and Nunchuks. Hopefully that's not the final answer...

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Matt Barton
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It looks kinda heavy, too,

It looks kinda heavy, too, maybe too heavy to be holding up to the screen like they show for any extended period of time. Heck, just holding your arms up like that would get tiring very quickly. Though I have to admit that does look pretty darn cool.

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Bill Loguidice
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AR is the new VR
Matt Barton wrote:

It looks kinda heavy, too, maybe too heavy to be holding up to the screen like they show for any extended period of time. Heck, just holding your arms up like that would get tiring very quickly. Though I have to admit that does look pretty darn cool.

I wonder if they got that idea from the 3DS (in fact, it's nearly an exact match) and all this augmented reality stuff that is now becoming commonplace thanks to that, Kinect, Move, and Vita? This really is the fusion of the tablet experience that is all the rage these days and a traditional console. I just hope they haven't bungled the multiplayer part, because that would be a major disappointment and I think something that will definitely come back to bite them. I think they can survive with Xbox 360 and PS3 level audio-visuals when the Xbox 360-2 and PS4 are released, but they won't be able to recover (sales-wise) if the multiplayer aspect is gimped.

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