2012-09-13

Wii U – Nintendo Reveals (Almost) All

by Yo Snyder

Nintendo finally unveiled details on its upcoming Wii U console.
While we didn’t quite get all of the details we would have liked, some
of the most pertinent ones were given, along with an interesting
surprise (at least, it was a surprise to me). I will say this, however,
Nintendo still hasn’t convinced me that aside from being a rather unique
novelty why this whole “asymmetric gameplay” (a term thankfully not
used this time around) idea is one that will truly change how I play
games. Then again, does it matter? Isn’t an HD Nintendo console with the
potential of some great online capabilities more than enough?

COO
Reggie Fils-Aime took the stage at Nintendo’s press conference this
week and didn’t waste any time getting to the stuff people wanted to
know. The Wii U is launching November 18th here in the U.S., that’s a
Sunday, conveniently the Sunday right before Thanksgiving and, more
importantly, Black Friday. No surprise there. As for how much it will
cost you, the Wii U is coming in two flavors. The Basic Set will come
with the console, gamepad, an HDMI cord (nice) and a sensor bar, all in
white, for $299.99. The Deluxe Set will have all of that stuff along
with expanded memory, a charging cradle for the gamepad, a stand for the
console and gampad, and a copy of Nintendoland. This nifty
little bundle will set you back $349.99. All in all, that’s pretty close
to what people were expecting the Wii U to cost, though I think it’s
just a bit on the steep side. Had Nintendo found a way to make the
Deluxe set $300 and the Basic on $250, I think they would have really
hit the sweet spot. As it is, I think it’s just a bit outside of that
sweet spot, but not really a deal breaker.

To help demonstrate the console and what it offers, next there was a demo of “Metroid Blast” from the “this is the Wii Sports game of the Wii U” Nintendoland.
The demo featured one Mii on the ground with another in the air taking
on waves of baddies in a Metroid themed horde mode. Did it look fun?
Sure, I think that will be all kinds of fun. Did it look like a, “Wow, I
can’t wait to experience that for myself because it looks so radically
different!”? No, not really, which is the tough challenge that lies
ahead for Nintendo; make me care about this more than just, “Gee, that
looks neat.” We also got another look at New Super Mario Bros. U,
with a focus on some of the new modes that will take advantage of the
gamepad. The co-op speed mode looks like a lot of fun, and was perhaps
the first inkling of something I’d really enjoy. I can see my and my
wife (who’s a huge Mario fan) sinking a lot of time into doing that.
Show me more stuff like that Nintendo, and you got me. 

Next came a
rather interesting surprise from Nintendo. Reggie introduced a new,
non-game based initiative called Nintendo TVii (note the cute Wii
spelling, so clever). This seemed very much like a counter-blow to
Microsoft’s SmartGlass announcement from E3, but truthfully, this
version of second-screen integration when it comes to viewing media
seems rather well thought-out (as opposed to Microsoft’s, “Just think of
what we might be able to do” approach at E3), so I’m thinking they had
it all ready to go but just didn’t show it at E3. Nintendo TVii will
connect you to your various services such as HuluPlus, Netflix and so on
and allow you to search for content, view it, record with TiVo for
later, get scores and updates when watching sports, get trivia and info
while watching movies, be able to preview movies on the gamepad while
watching TV, find shows on TV to watch and much more. It’s very similar
to what Xbox Live does as a digital media hub and is exactly what
SmartGlass wants to do for control and second screen options, and
overall is just a very cool feature that looks extremely well thought
out with some really useful and fun functionality, and best of all it’s a
free service. Nintendo TVii could actually be a huge coup for Nintendo
when it comes to being a digital media hub.

Reggie wrapped things up by getting back to the games, announcing that Bayonetta 2 and The Wonderful 101 as exclusives coming from Platinum Games. The Wonderful 101 in particular looks like some unique fun with a Viewtiful Joe (loved those games!) flair. Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
was announced and will have some connectivity between the Wii U and the
3DS, which is very cool. And Activision showed off a few of its games
including Skylanders Giants, 007 Legends, Wipeout 3 and the exclusive Transformers Prime: The Game. They also showed off Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
for the Wii U, and impressively, they showed how with the gamepad you
can play split-screen with a friend without splitting the screen. One
player is on the TV, one is on the gamepad, and it’s all in HD. Cool. 

A
few things that we didn’t learn about that has me a bit concerned. No
more details about the Miiverse and Nintendo’s online plan. It’s obvious
they have one because Black Ops 2 is all about the multiplayer,
which is online, so Nintendo can’t drop the ball on that. They also
didn’t give firm release dates for launch day games and launch window (up to March of next year)
games. It’s nice that we’ll have Mario at launch, but if we learned
anything from the 3DS launch, one great game isn’t enough. Nintendo,
give me Pikmin 3 on launch day and I’m there. 

So what do
you think of Nintendo’s Wii U? Is the price right? Is the second screen
something that intrigues you? Are you going out to get one? Leave your
comments below.