Monday, June 4, 2012

Nintendo's Pre-E3 Conference

This entire week is going to have posts that are early and more frequent than normal weeks because of E3. Hope you have fun this week, guys and girls!

Yesterday evening, Nintendo held their thirty minute pre-E3 conference called Nintendo Direct where Nintnedo's president, Satoru Iwata, talked about the various features of the upcoming Wii U. Of course after the conference ended, gaming websites across the internet started having healthy discussions about everything that was in the video. Opinions ranged from saying it was dreadful to people getting hyped. Here's my take on Nintendo Direct.

Let's start with some of the biggest news from the conference -- the online features. Before their conference, Nintendo had talked about how they realize that online is important and that the Nintendo Network would be better than Nintendo Wi-fi, their previous online service. With their video released yesterday, Nintendo proved that they are taking online seriously this time, by including things like video chat and a Twitter-esque application. It's great to see Nintendo providing a fleshed out online service, especially after six years of the Wii.

However, that doesn't mean everything about the online was great. Mr. Iwata kept mentioning how it was unique and different, and while there were certainly some new ideas in the video, nothing really stood out as different. Everything shown felt more like a natural evolution of services provided on Microsoft's Xbox Live and Sony's Playstation Network. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but video chat and cross game chat aren't exactly new and interesting ideas.

Their one really unique idea was the Wii U's Miiverse, which is a gathering of Miis on your TV that appear when you turn the console on. The Miis will gather around boxes that represent different games available on the Wii U and will have messages written by the Mii's real life counterpart appearing on screen. I really like the idea of Miiverse and getting to see what other people have to say, and I can see a lot of possibilities with Miiverse. For example, it could be an easy advertising mechanism for companies that don't have millions of dollars to throw at a nationwide campaign. My only fear is that people will start to spoil games that you're playing or games that you haven't even bought yet. Mr. Iwata said that they are working on preventing spoilers, so I'll stay positive about that.

The Wii U's Miiverse was the most original idea show at
Nintendo Direct.

I'm also telling myself not to be completely hyped about Nintendo Network just yet, due to the fact that we haven't seen any online gameplay yet. Although I think it's unlikely, there is still a possibility that playing games online could be laggy and downright bad. Hopefully sometime during this week or next week, we get to see what actual online gameplay looks like.

My overall feelings about the Wii U's online functionality is that while it's great to see Nintendo finally provide a working online service, it still feels like they are trying to catch up with Sony and Microsoft in that department. While some of the ideas shown are nice, it doesn't feel as unique as the DS's touch screen was or the Wii's motion controls were. I could very well see Sony and Microsoft leap frogging Nintendo in the online department once the next Xbox and Playstation come out.

But enough about online, let's move onto the other big news that has people talking. At last year's E3 when Nintendo first revealed the Wii U, they focused a lot on the new tablet like controller, and they focused a lot on it again during this conference. Nintendo is now calling the controller the Gamepad, and Mr. Iwata revealed it was newly redesigned.

The most notable revision is the change from circle pads to actual analog sticks. I absolutely love the fact that there are analog sticks now, but their placement above the buttons seems kind of strange. I know a lot of people have said that in the past, and I'm sure the Gamepad will feel comfortable when I hold it, but it is something I noticed that seemed off. There is also some form of scanner on the Gamepad that will read data from unknown objects as of right now. The concept wasn't really expanded upon, and I can't help but to feel like the scanner will be underutilized, just like the Gameboy Advance's own scanner, the E-reader.

Nintendo seems to be putting a lot of functionality into their new Gamepad. Not only can you use it for gaming, but you can also use it to change the channels on your TV. While it's a cool a feature of the Wii U, I can't imagine myself picking up the Gamepad to change the channel instead of a normal TV remote. It feels like one of those features that will be cool at first, and then you forget it exists a week later.

The Wii U's controller received a physical update since the
last time we saw it.

The Gamepad wasn't the only controller Mr. Iwata showed off; he also revealed a more traditional looking controller called the Wii U Pro Controller along with announcing that the Wii Remote will be compatible with the Wii U and Gamepad. For those wondering, the Pro Controller's button placement is the same as the Gamepad's, so the odd placement of the analog sticks remain. Mr. Iwata said the controller was for multiplatform games and people who wanted a more traditional gaming experience. I love the fact that Nintendo is providing so many options when it comes to controls on the Wii U, but I have a few questions, concerns, and comments.

First, if third parties use the Pro Controller to release a Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 game on the Wii U, doesn't that mean that the Wii U's most unique feature won't be utilized? I don't know how to feel about this, because it is great that Nintendo is finally getting some major third party support, but it seems to go against the whole concept of the Wii U. I know that if Nintendo forced third parties to use the Gamepad instead, then third party support would be a lot rarer, but it is kind of baffling to me.

And secondly, is the Wii Remote going to be included in the box? If it's not, what developers are really going to take advantage of the compatibility between the Gamepad and Wii Remote? I also have a concern that if Nintendo does include a Wii Remote in the box, it would make the Wii U seem even more like a Wii. Not only would their names and console designs be similar, but they would both come with the same exact controller.

Overall, Nintendo's pre-E3 conference revealed some nice features about the Wii U that ease my fears, but it also brought up some new questions and concerns. I do want to thank Nintendo though for getting all this information out of the way before their main press conference tomorrow, because I know if they didn't get this out of the way, many people, myself included, would be begging Nintendo to hurry up and get to the games.

So, what is your opinion of yesterday's Nintendo Direct? Did you like everything you saw, or did it turn you off from the Wii U completely? Do you share the same concerns and questions I have, or are you completely sold? I know some of my complaints and worries may seem minor, but they are still valid complaints and worries that I think Nintendo should address before the Wii U's release later this year.

1 comment:

  1. I have to say, I agree with you on this. There's some good evidence there about some of the pros and cons of Nintendo's attempt at online - especially with Nintendo Network and the analysis of the Gamepad. It's just a really well written and backed up post! :D

    Although most hardcore readers would easily churn through that post, I was thinking you might want to make it a bit easier on the eyes; space the text out some more, or just write a bit less. After all, there's a lot to talk about, but it's sometimes hard to swallow all of that info.

    And as for me, I'm hyped up even though I know all the cons. I generally don't like playing online, because I'm a bit screwy like that, and the Wii U has enough non-online stuff for me to be entertained. And besides, it's a new console! It's from Nintendo, so we know it's good. And besides, I want my Legend of Zelda, my Ninja Gaiden (which is hopefully improved) my Nintendo Land (which I MUST GET.) and basically, I'm buying the Wii U anyway.

    Wow. That was a long comment.