The Japanese Game Company, Nintendo, gained success and national attention back in 1981 with the arcade release of Donkey Kong. The company has struggled to regain their earlier success by plugging Donkey Kong star, Mario, into as wide a variety of themes and titles as possible. While this manuever has kept Nintendo afloat, it seems to be a sad trend with regards to other company releases.
A prime example of this is Nintendo's video game consoles. Initially, Nintendo systems are released to great financial success but that monetary gain continues to decline after a sales peak is reached, leading Nintendo to unleash yet another console in an attempt to keep their profits high. This cycle is about to be repeated with Nintendo's latest announcement of the Wii-U.
In a pre-E3 video available on Nintendo Direct, Nintendo President, Saturo Iwata, unveiled some finalized details behind the new console and the company's philosophy relating to the device. After giving us a lesson on how the corrupt American lifestyle is destroying families faster than gay marriage ever could and giving us reading homework (Alone Together by Sherry Turkle), Iwata told his audience of a salvation that can only come from the Nintendo Wii-U video game console. The system will focus on bringing gamers and families together to destroy zombies and talking about destroying zombies in ways that gamers couldn't even have imagined back in Nintendo's 1981 glory days.
Also revealed was the fully developed Wii-U game controller.
Even before final production, Nintendo realized that it's prototype was a failure and replaced several features to make it more marketable. Gone are the low-to-the-controller circle pads which were used on Nintendo's latest portable system, the 3DS. They have been replaced by more typical analog pads. The controller itself has also been more ergonomically streamlined so that it will hurt your hands less during long gaming sessions.
The Gamepad also features an NFC reader to scan cards for a probable Pokémon game and a camera to catch you crying after a long, unsuccessful fight in the latest Super Smash Brothers. To add to the controller's longevity, it is also capable of functioning as a television remote. This promises that even two weeks after your purchase of the Wii-U, you'll still have a reason to at least use the controller for something.
Nintendo's new Gamepad still features it's own screen which allows you to interact with your games in unique ways. Some of this is called "Asymetrical Diversity," which basically means that in a baseball game, you can pitch on the small screen while your friend is batting on the big screen. Non-gamers have commented on this by saying "You can do that in real life. On a baseball field." This comment has been generally avoided by the gaming community at large.
Nintendo has put a lot of work into this controller, adding in feature upon feature and then putting another feature in, just to make sure. The controller screen is a touch pad with an included stylus. Like the failed Wii Remote, the new gamepad senses a gamer's movements through motion and gyro sensors. Like a Predator but slightly less lethal.
President Iwata repeated what was said a year ago: that the Wii-U gamepad could be used independently of the Wii-U to play certain games. This was an obvious attempt at trying to cut into the cell phone gaming market by making simpler cell games playable on the upcoming system.
Besides the wonders of the Wii-U gamepad, the Wii-U would also be able to use the game controllers from the previous Wii system, including the Wii Remote and the Wii Board. In one last, desperate attempt to woo back fans of multiplatform games, Nintendo is also releasing the Wii-U Pro Controller. This more traditional controller will allow gamers to play the latest Call of Duty game without waving a stick-like controller in the air. With the inclusion of this controller, it is possible that multiplatform games will no longer require a completely separate production team to translate the latest shooter to the Wii-U.
To show how the Wii-U will change gaming forever, Saturo Iwata played a video, showing us a typical gaming nerd, Todd, playing a zombie shooter and failing miserably. After discussing his terrible gaming skills to his best friend, "Non-Specific Action Figure," this lonely virgin used his Wii-U Gamepad to not only express his sad mood but to ask the Nintendo gaming community for help in killing a zombie. This post is picked up by a cyber bully who called him up to mock him. Eventually, Todd finds help on the Nintendo message board (still using his Gamepad) but the advice does him no good.
Going to the next level, the failure of a gamer decides to contact the person who was giving out gaming advice online, using his Gamepad as a camera for the exchange. The person who picks up is a creepy old man who demands that Todd calls him "Grandpa" and tells the oppressed nerd to "upgrade his scanner ding-dong." "Grandpa" makes a play to become Todd's best friend, causing the gaming virgin an emotional crisis between his creepy online Nintendo friend or his Non-Specific Action Figure.
After upgrading his scanner "ding-dong," Todd is able to find success against a zombie horde where success in life has failed him.
This video is followed by a look at the Wii-U's opening display, called by development teams' by the term "Mii Wara Wara." A "Mii" is a character avatar, also used on the Wii system. "Wara Wara" is roughly translated into the noise made by a crowd of people. The opening display shows not only your own Miis but also the Miis of your friends and other people around the country playing Wii-U games.
The Miis are grouped around whatever game they are playing and you are even able to see conversations happening between different people. The conversations can be text messages or a gamer can use the touch screen and stylus to draw pictures or words. Expect your youngsters to see their life quota of drawn penises just by turning the Wii-U on.
Iwata goes on to describe Nintendo's related online strategy, the Miiverse. Dumbing it down as much as possible, Nintendo's Global President explains that "Miiverse" is just the combination of the words "Mii" and "Universe." This is accompanied by a graphic illustration just in case you couldn't understand his complicated language.
Admitting that Nintendo didn't invent online play, Iwata tries to explain how their system will differ from Playstation Online or X-Box Live. This is also an admission of how the Wii's online component was a failure compared to it's current gen rivals.
Nintendo's online strategy basically relies on the Wii-U Gamepad being used as a text messaging and drawing tool. The screen can also be used to read messages instead of displaying them up on the big screen for any parent, spouse, or Non-Specific Action Figure to see. You are also able to display your fragile emotional state through different Mii emote options and even leave comments at different points in a game for other gamers to read.
Planning for a future away from consoles, Nintendo's Miiverse is a browser based app that will eventually be available on your mobile device or home computer. So even when you've stopped playing the Wii-U and added it to the dusty pile of unused Nintendo consoles, you will still be able to pretend you're a loyal Nintendo fan by talking to other Miiverse users through your cell phone.
Speaking of the future, Saturo Iwata describes the Nintendo Network, an online initiative that will not only connect Nintendo gamers playing on the Wii-U or Nintendo 3DS, but any future "Nintendo device."
Nintendo's Global President gave a short eulogy for the Nintendo Wii, noting some of it's successes while sweeping it's failures neatly under the rug. Even while closing the chapter on the Wii, Iwata was unable to stop talking about what you could do with the Wii-U. He discussed how the Gamepad could be used to browse the internet and could even force your family or housemates to view your internet surfing by moving your session to the big screen.
While all of this sounds pretty neat, it doesn't seem to solve the "alone together" problem that Nintendo has set as it's brand new mission. In fact, it seems like it would excacerbate the situation by giving us even more reason to sit at home in a dark room, playing games and talking to people online instead of real life. This reporter couldn't be happier.
Iwata ended his presentation by talking about this coming week's E3 event where even more information would become available about Nintendo's future system. He also assured everyone that while the Wii was a failure, the company had still not given up on it's 3DS platform. For now.