Getting a jump on the yearly gaming marketing spree that is the Electronic Entertainment Expo, Nintendo took to the internet to launch their Nintendo Direct Pre-E3 video, showing the world the finalized look and details of the Wii U.
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata hosted the video, detailing the Wii U's technical specs, in light of its initial design philosophy.
Here are all of the pertinent details:
Wii U GamePad
There are a few differences from the prototype version of the GamePad first introduced at last year's E3. Thankfully, the analog joysticks replace the prototype's thumbsticks, and the button placement has been slightly shifted for a more ergonomic fit.
Notably, a near-field communication reader has been placed just underneathe the D-pad, continuing Nintendo's recent trend of incorporating new technology into their consoles. Players will be able to touch certain NFC-enabled objects onto the controller to activate some type of in-game effect. This video was silent on the types of the effects this could bring, but, as Iwata said, the E3 presser on Tuesday will be focused entirely on Wii U software, which will undoubtedly showcase a bunch of games using NFC.
The Wii U GamePad can also be used as a TV controller, by hitting the (surprise) TV button in the lower right corner. Using an infrared transmitter, the GamePad will be able change channels, adjust volume, as well as power on both your TV and the Wii U.
As shown last year, the Wii U GamePad's touchscreen will act a secondary screen for greater game immersion, the extent of which will be discussed on Tuesday. Also, the controller will include motion/gyro sensors to track controller movements, which, to be honest, sounds positively blase nowadays.
Other Control Options
The Wii U will support all controllers of the Wii, including the Wii Remote, the Nunchuck, and the Wii Balance Board. Additionally, to support multiplatform games with "more traditional controls," Nintendo offers the Wii U Pro Controller, a gamepad built more in an conventional Xbox 360-style layout (a surprising move, considering that every Nintendo controller since the Nintendo 64 has been unique.)
Wii Goes Social
Showcased in a hilariously terrible skit, the new Wii U will have access to a social network (of sorts), called the Miiverse.
At power on, players will see a home screen on their television, full of Mii characters - your Mii, the Miis on your system, your friends' Miis, and Miis of people in your country - huddled around various gaming hubs. A "Mii Universe," as Iwata described, will act as a communication homebase, where players can see their friends' Miis gathered around whatever game they're playing, even if you don't own the game.
Like the Wii network now, gamers will be able to send screenshots and messages to each other, but now your friends will be able to hop into the Miiverse without interrupting gameplay. Plus, you'll be able to access the Miiverse not only from the Wii U and 3DS, but also your mobile devices and your computer via the Nintendo Network (think Nintendo's answer to Xbox Live and PSN.)
Be sure to stay tuned to this space, and we'll keep you informed of all the important news coming out of E3 this week, including Nintendo's on Tuesday!