Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed a lot of information about the new Wii U gaming console earlier today during the pre-E3 Nintendo Direct show. In fact, after watching it, we hesitate to call it a ‘gaming’ console. Nintendo appears to have much more in mind with the new device.
Let’s back up just a bit though.
Last month we told you about a big event Nintendo had planned during the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in LA this week. The Nintendo event is to take place on Tuesday, June 5th, at 12pm Eastern time, and will be broadcast live on Spike TV.
We expected that the event would primarily be about final reveal of the new Nintendo Wii U.
But Iwata has something different in mind. During today’s show he said Tuesday’s event will focus on the new games that will be available for the Wii U. Then he proceeded give us a ton of details about the new Wii U controller, and the new OS, right then and there. You can see it too – a video of the presentation is posted below.
One of the biggest changes over the previous generation Wii will be the addition of a tablet-like controller. It will be called the Wii U Gamepad. The Gamepad has a 6.2 inch touchscreen, control buttons, is motion sensitive, and not only works with the Wii U, but also does double duty as a fully independent infrared TV remote.
The Gamepad will also include Near Field Communications (NFS) technology. With NFS, the Gampad will be able to read or write data from a card or figure placed on the device.
During the pre-E3 Nintendo Direct show, Iwata explained the differences between the prototype Gamepad he showed us at last year’s E3, and the final version Nintendo has now. The changes include turning the circular thumb buttons into mini joy sticks and some general design alterations for comfort.
Ok, before you watch the video below, let me tell you that Iwata’s presentation style is very dry. But there are some things worth seeing.
Starting at about the 7:00 minute point, Iwata shows how two screens, the one on the Gamepad and the TV screen, become part of one experience. He also shows us how the Gamepad can be used in different circumstances – including how it can be used to play games on the Wii U when someone else is watching TV.
At 12:40, we get a strange commercial type thing that shows us a bit more about the Wii U. The interesting part here is the use of the Wii U for social networking and video chat.
Then there’s the new Wii menu and Mii universe, or ‘Miiverse’. The Miiverse includes, on the user’s screen, other Miis – ranging from friends and family, to the Miis of other users throughout the user’s country, and the world. This display also shows what games those Miis are playing, and what they are saying.
One has to wonder how such a system will remain appropriate for families? But surely Nintendo has thought of that and has some system in place to deal with it.
Other tidbits included in the video are that the Wii U is compatible with existing Wii controllers, like the Will Remote, Will Nunchuk, and Wii Balance Board. There will be another device, the Wii U Pro Controller, which is designed for more intense gamers. The Gamepad will also include an internet browser than can provide various interactions between the Gamepad and the TV.
It’s clear from the video that Nintendo sees the Wii U as not just a gaming console, but also as a social networking and communications device.
The YouTube video presentation below is long – but if you make it through it – let us know what you think in the comments section below. We’ll be keeping an eye on this one, it has the potential to be a gamechanger.