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

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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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Dont forget Sony said this

Dont forget Sony said this with the PSP and PS2 also.. was it ever used? its kinda funny, the first true MOTION control was an addon for the PS2 way back you actually move moved the gamepad (tilted and twistied it) and it worked, the demo's for it used Warhawk. it wasnt a SONY brand item it was 3rd party. I know there wher other motion controlers (the nintendo one that used sensors to locate your hand, and the one that used the eye peice, and Segas activator, but the 3rd party Sony one worked like todays)... And the handheld as a controler thing was really a Sega thing (dreamacast sorta did this with the VMU in some games) but a real screen the PSP and PS2 promised that years ago..

most of the new tech today is just old tech in a time when it actually works as shown. I dont think anybody can steal anybody thunder anymore (by copying, maybe with HYPE :) ).. I mean Kinect is really a hugely upgraded EyeToy in a basic way, which is a copy of an old PC camera mic thing that was used on very few games back (if any) in the mid-late 90's made by ASUS.

its all in how well you use it.. just ask a girl you know :)

Matt Barton
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Nothing New Under the Sun

I think you hit the nail with that one, Clok. There's nothing new here, and anybody who thinks any of this is a breakthrough needs to do some research. That said, I don't think invention is what is important--innovation is. The only thing that matters is how this stuff is APPLIED. My best bet is that if Nintendo can't find a way to harness this tech in a way to appeal to the masses, NOBODY can.

The only thing I've seen from Sony lately that blew me away was using the 3D stuff so that two players saw different things on the same screen. Now that's really spectacular in my opinion; I'd buy the new PlayStation if they really put that to good use.

As far as Nintendo's new stuff, I'm skeptical until proven fanboy. Just need to wait to see if they're able to make games that take full advantage of it. I think they failed with the 3DS in this regard. Even Bill only seems lukewarm about Steel Diver, and I've yet to hear anybody make a convincing case that the 3D is fundamental game changer and not just a cool "gee whiz" sort of deal.

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Lynxoid (not verified)
So tired of hearing about

So tired of hearing about this. Honestly. Come on get back to vintage games allready. Only reason this is getting attention is because its NINTENDO and like Mac fantatics they think its breaking news when Steve Jobs has a bowel movement.

Bill Loguidice
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Buh?
Lynxoid wrote:

So tired of hearing about this. Honestly. Come on get back to vintage games allready. Only reason this is getting attention is because its NINTENDO and like Mac fantatics they think its breaking news when Steve Jobs has a bowel movement.

That's a weird thought. We cover all eras on Armchair Arcade. We just happen to have been gaming since at least the early 80's and are enthusiasts of videogame and computer history, and as such, our perspective is always colored by that. For us not to cover E3 stuff, particularly the release of a new console, is unthinkable. As always, you'll notice recent blog posts have ranged from the bleeding edge to vintage stuff, so we're still doing the Armchair Arcade thing... You only have to read what interests you.

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Rowdy Rob
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Old AND new.... all here at Armchair Arcade!
Bill Loguidice wrote:

That's a weird thought. We cover all eras on Armchair Arcade. We just happen to have been gaming since at least the early 80's and are enthusiasts of videogame and computer history, and as such, our perspective is always colored by that. For us not to cover E3 stuff, particularly the release of a new console, is unthinkable. As always, you'll notice recent blog posts have ranged from the bleeding edge to vintage stuff, so we're still doing the Armchair Arcade thing... You only have to read what interests you.

Right on, Bill! The discussion of ALL eras and genres of videogaming is what makes AA such an exceptional site, and one that seems to be unique. AA is neither stuck in the past nor ignoring the past. Most of us here love the old games, systems, and technology, but are excited about the new stuff too! It keeps us open-minded, keeps the topics fresh and interesting, and quite frankly, it keeps us from becoming old fuddy-duddies.....

"Back in my day, games only had blocky graphics, and our joysticks only had one button, and we liked it that way! That's a real videogame! Not like this new stuff where you jump around in front of the TV set... that's just a bunch of junk..."

If a new member wants to start a thread on old 8-bit games, I don't see anything stopping them, and we'd welcome the discussion!

Matt Barton
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Lynx
Rowdy Rob wrote:

If a new member wants to start a thread on old 8-bit games, I don't see anything stopping them, and we'd welcome the discussion!

Indeed, I guarantee that if you start up a thread about, say, the Lynx, you'll get lots of comments from all of us.

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Bill Loguidice
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Atari Lynx
Matt Barton wrote:
Rowdy Rob wrote:

If a new member wants to start a thread on old 8-bit games, I don't see anything stopping them, and we'd welcome the discussion!

Indeed, I guarantee that if you start up a thread about, say, the Lynx, you'll get lots of comments from all of us.

Interestingly, speaking of the Lynx, I won some auctions several months back that had quite a few homebrew games on cartridge, many boxed. There were some I didn't even know existed, though the overall quality seemed a bit below the average. Regardless, fascinating stuff. You really have to keep up with this stuff, and even for someone likes me who tries, you still miss things!

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
it is a wierd point. But i

it is a wierd point. But i even thought this site was more for older stuff... when i first came that is.. he does bring of some food for thought.. look at the most posts in a thread. Most of them are about new tech (consoles or Apple releated) so we know where the most insterst.. well maybe not interest, but where people seem to want to discuss or voice their opinions. itts almost sad in a few ways that some of the tech you guys have posted here (the mini emu machines, updated emulation machines, games made for long dead hardware) posted only gets a few comments. I'm as guilty as anybody of that.. it fastinates me, but i seldom comment on it. Im also kinda a neagative poster.. everybody can see the "fun" parts (thats what hype machines and marketing is for) and i tend to talk about the negatives.. sometimes I know it comes off as hate of a product and I dont mean it that way, but even I know it comes off as that. I diss MS and Apple alot, but I bow my hat to some of the exceptional stuff they do. So when I dont comment its not always disinterest, its alot of times I like it and cant post anything bad :)

Bill Loguidice
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It is an issue that has often

It is an issue that has often come up for us behind the scenes, clok. The fact that we don't specialize/focus in say Atari or Nintendo or present gen stuff or system x, etc., or one or the other when it comes to console and computer stuff, probably hurts our participation. We all love EVERYTHING, so our interest is in talking about everything, which is really not how most people are. Most people are either fanboys or have a relatively narrow bands of interests when it comes to videogames or computers. What you say is also true that it's often the new stuff that gets the most interest to spur discussions. While of course I/we would love for AA to get really "big", it serves its purposes as both a place we can be ourselves and as a launching point for other projects (the books, the film, etc.). Honestly, if our audience, such as it is, showed a particular preference for one thing, we'd probably talk about that one thing (or aspect) more, but the reality is far different. We NEVER know what will inspire interest.

With all of the above in mind, I stand by what I said. If someone doesn't like one topic or another, there's probably a topic right by it that will interest them. If I look at our front page of blog posts right now, I see: The Dark Crystal (1983, Apple II), Nintendo's E3 presser (2011), Apple's WDC appearance (2011), Sony's E3 presser (2011), Microsoft's E3 presser (2011), Alien life humor post (misc.), Matt's video review of The Witcher (the 2000's and PC), PSN is back up (2011) and Wizardry (1981 and 2011), and Microsoft Xbox 360 sales (2011). All that to CHOOSE from. It's not my/our fault that the MOST interest of that bunch to this point appears to be the Nintendo E3 presser. That's what our audience chose to embrace and embodies exactly what I mean by you never know. If we had STRICTLY vintage topics, we might not get ANY response.

I kind of think we're comfortable in all areas, so in all areas we'll remain. Hopefully people find it interesting and maybe gain some additional interests of their own...

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Some interesting commentary

Some interesting commentary here. I particularly like:

Now I’m not particularly bothered about Killer Freaks, what I am bothered about is the possibility that the use of different controllers could be used to implement different types of expression. For instance, imagine playing Jason Rohrer’s Sleep is Death on Wii U, or something similar to it. One person controlling another players experience, through the means of a touch screen device. What about other scenarios? What about three players, one with a normal joypad, Wii ‘stick’ controller and Wii U touchpad combining these different affordances together into one experience?

Will something like that actually happen? I remain a deep cynic, but its there on the table.

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