E3 2012 - Most Significant Happenings from Nintendo's Wii U Showing

Bill Loguidice's picture

After giving my impressions of Sony's and Microsoft's respective efforts at e3, it's time to turn to Nintendo. Since tomorrow is Nintendo's stated day to focus on 3DS stuff, today it was pretty much all Wii U. I think there was a lot there to keep the Nintendo faithful happy, but I think overall there's still some work to be done for those who felt burned by the Wii or who didn't respond to the 3DS. Regardless, here is my impression of what I thought the highlights were:

The Controllers
The big news of course was something that I personally predicted as a must-have--second Wii U touchscreen controller support. The downside is that game frame rates will drop to as low as 30 FPS and there may be other performance hits (similar to when today's games go 3D), but at least the option is there. Hopefully it gets properly leveraged and optimizations found, because, as before, I maintain it's important that at least the second player have as rich of an experience as the first player for most games to be the same amount of fun for both.

As for the screen-less Wii U Pro Controller, it looks like a solid hybrid of the Xbox 360 and PS3 controller, and I expect it to work well. Between the touchscreen controller and this Pro Controller and the HD and other technical improvements under the hood, clearly the Wii U will be able to easily handle any traditional game type that the present competition can, which is something that the original Wii struggled mightily with.

Nintendo Land (NintendoLand, Nintendoland)
This is already being billed as the Wii U's Wii Sports equivalent, and I think it would make an ideal pack-in, since it's designed to showcase nearly all of the new features of the system and touchscreen controller.

The Games and Apps
The same stuff here as Microsoft and Sony. You're either excited by new editions of the same sequels and series games, or you're not. There were of course a few new titles that looked interesting (ZombiU for one), but I don't think we'll really know enough about them to get really excited until these things get further along in development. Announcements of Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc., were obvious, and Nintendo needs to keep the services coming and make them available at or near launch.

Ship Date and Pricing
Nintendo was surprisingly coy about this. We're still getting "this holiday" and no price point. I'm sticking with $299 - $349 and the end of November as the best guesses.

Overall, Nintendo did OK here, but I think it lacked a bit of the sizzle I was hoping for. I'm thinking a lot of that will come over the next few months now that all of the basics have been covered here at e3. With that said, I suppose the last big thing for e3 2012 will be to see what's up with the 3DS tomorrow, which could simply be new games, but could go all the way up to a new variation of the system. Stay tuned...

Comments

Paul H
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+/-

I like that they are pushing a dual-analog controller.
I like that the "gamepad" can be used as a TV remote, it's a nice feature. If my PS3 remote could be used to turn on/off my TV and set the volume I would leave it sitting in a drawer.
I like that they are willing to support two gamepads at once.
I like that they look to be doing better online integration, but I don't like that they didn't say anything about how the store will work. Can I transfer my wii virtual console games to wii U or 3DS?

I did not like that the mario brothers wii U still has that stupid shake-your-controller mechanic. I hope they let you push a button as an alternative.
I did not like that the price is still a big question mark.
I did not like that the new dual-analog controller is not a pack-in, that makes up much less likely to be supported.

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Bill Loguidice
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Paul H wrote:

I like that they are pushing a dual-analog controller.

I think they pretty much had to. Wiimote plus Nunchuk did not prove a viable substitute in most cases for games that were developed around that control type.

Paul H wrote:

I like that the "gamepad" can be used as a TV remote, it's a nice feature. If my PS3 remote could be used to turn on/off my TV and set the volume I would leave it sitting in a drawer.

I use Logitech remotes myself, which are fully programmable and are able to accommodate my more complex setups. I think it's a bullet point, but not necessarily a feature that will get used. I don't consider it a positive or negative in that case.

Paul H wrote:

I like that they are willing to support two gamepads at once.

I always thought this was a necessity. I know they didn't want to do it because of the performance hit, but at least the option is there and two people can have the same type of rich screen-based experiences.

Paul H wrote:

I like that they look to be doing better online integration, but I don't like that they didn't say anything about how the store will work. Can I transfer my wii virtual console games to wii U or 3DS?

Nintendo has confirmed they will have some type of Wii VC transfer service to the Wii U. Makes sense, since they allowed it going from DSi to 3DS. I just hope that they improve the store experience to the point where I actually want to use it (I believe they will, it's just a matter of whether or not it will be enough). I only bought two Wii VC games (Super Mario Bros and Ice Climber for the NES) because the store is just too sluggish and annoying to shop in (for me). Honestly, that's the one place that Microsoft has both Sony and Nintendo undeniably beat - overall interface and online services performance.

Paul H wrote:

I did not like that the price is still a big question mark.

I agree. The price will surely fall between $249 - $399, likely $299 - $349 for maximum impact. Otherwise, we just don't know. Even the launch date is still up in the air, though the end of November is probably the safest estimate.

Paul H wrote:

I did not like that the new dual-analog controller is not a pack-in, that makes up much less likely to be supported.

No worries. The pro controller is EXACTLY the same as the pack-in controller, outside of no screen, camera, etc. (the "extra" features), and with the inclusion of rumble, which the screen-based controller will likely lack. So it will be supported by default.

What I don't care for is that the screen controller is only targeting 3 - 5 hours of use between charges. Hopefully that will be improved a bit prior to launch.

By the way, another potential negative--apparently all games shown at e3 were native to 720p, with no confirmation whether they'll upscale to 1080p. That's not a big deal because that's what this generation of systems basically does, but as the first next gen system, it's suspicious that they wouldn't want to target 1080p across the board...

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Paul H
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VC store

Fantastic news about the VC purchase transfer. Ideally it would be as easy as iTunes where you just log in to the store and can download anything you've already bought on any device that supports it. I hope they also add some more games to the virtual console (Saturn and DS please!).

I forgot that the gamepad has dual-analog and all the buttons so good news there too.

Bill Loguidice wrote:

By the way, another potential negative--apparently all games shown at e3 were native to 720p, with no confirmation whether they'll upscale to 1080p. That's not a big deal because that's what this generation of systems basically does, but as the first next gen system, it's suspicious that they wouldn't want to target 1080p across the board...

I'm not surprised they're all 720P since they're all designed to be switched between the TV and the gamepad screen. The gamepad resolution is something around 720P (possibly less). I'd sure prefer nice smooth 1080p running at 60 frames/second, but if it's a technical limitation I'll take 720P at 60 fps over 1080P at 30 fps.

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Bill Loguidice
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Paul H wrote:

Fantastic news about the VC purchase transfer. Ideally it would be as easy as iTunes where you just log in to the store and can download anything you've already bought on any device that supports it. I hope they also add some more games to the virtual console (Saturn and DS please!).

I forgot that the gamepad has dual-analog and all the buttons so good news there too.

....

I'm not surprised they're all 720P since they're all designed to be switched between the TV and the gamepad screen. The gamepad resolution is something around 720P (possibly less). I'd sure prefer nice smooth 1080p running at 60 frames/second, but if it's a technical limitation I'll take 720P at 60 fps over 1080P at 30 fps.

I suspect it will only be a one-way transfer process like from the DSi to the 3DS, but we'll see. Certainly it would be best for us consumers to be able to have purchases stored in the cloud and available for any authorized device, but Nintendo hasn't classicly worked like that.

As for the screen on the controller, it maxes out at a 480p display, unfortunately, but at that tiny size it shouldn't be a major issue.

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Mark Vergeer
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The Nintendo offerings

It seems that Nintendo is the only company that is offering something that really gets my interest. The prospect of some über Wii with decent graphics and a conventional controller and a touch screen controller is quite enticing. The touch screen controller is quite innovative and combines the best of both worlds. I would expect the VC to even open up to older upscaled DS games as they would work great on there as well. So I do expect a lot of casual gamers and the casual gaming public to be drawn in as well as the more hardcore gamers.

The only negative is if they would focus on the digital distribution model without the ability to move the content around to another device. The prospect of buying games where buying kinda is like 'renting' and the games can become instantly inaccessible somewhere down the line when the console fails or when Nintendo stops support is not appealing to me. All the companies seem to be going down that route and I must say I am rather put off.

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Paul H
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On the GBA Nintendo

On the GBA Nintendo distributed games on barcodes that were read with the e-reader accessory. Now they have "NFC" built in to the controller, so they have a really cool way to distribute classic games built-in.

Make a Mario figure, program it with Mario 1-3, and sell it as a collectible for $20 to $30. I'd be much more likely to buy that than "buy" the games on virtual console. Nintendo gets to charge a premium price and I get a physical copy of my game that won't vanish into the cloud.

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Rowdy Rob
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Cracked.com : 5 Ways We Know Nintendo Has Lost Its Mind

The response to the Wii-U's unveiling at E3 seems to be lukewarm at best, and now Cracked.com is piling on with a rather harsh critique of the Wii-U in it's recent article 5 Ways We Know Nintendo Has Lost Its Mind.

Some of this stuff we've discussed here on AA in the past, but a more mainstream website like Cracked essentially eviscerating the Wii-U might be a bad sign of what's to come. Trying to pay attention to two screens has been my concern, but Cracked goes after Nintendo's apparent forced social gaming aspect, as well as it's very lackluster launch title announcements (Batman:Arkham City?!?! Mass Effect 3?!?!?).

I've been wrong before (many times) predicting the future, but I have a bad feeling about the Wii-U. Nothing about it excites me, and it seems that the general public is confused about it too.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-ways-we-know-nintendo-has-lost-its-mind/

Bill Loguidice
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This has indeed been a very

This has indeed been a very strange E3, Rob. Nintendo had pretty much a slam dunk given that they had new hardware all to themselves, but they ended up with a only a handful of standouts overall. Microsoft did much better than I expected, with Sony pulling up the rear. Obviously if you're a fan of any of those companies, you think the one you're a fan of "won", as if that means anything. Regardless, they all did enough, if not enough spectacularly.

With the above in mind, I think Nintendo's core approach with the Wii U is solid and I think they'll have plenty of time to pull it all together for the end of November. The only remaining piece to the puzzle is the price point, and for that, I truly believe they shouldn't exceed $349 with a compelling pack-in game (NintendoLand most likely).

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