So the cat’s out of the bag and there’s no escaping the the wealth of articles online concerning Nintendo’s new console, the Wii U.
Unveiled during their E3 conference, the Wii U is an interesting venture for Nintendo and it’s existence poses many questions about the direction Nintendo will now take in the current gaming market.
The Wii U is for ‘You’, yes ‘You’, there is something here for everyone, what ever your gaming tastes. Nintendo were eager to point this out, recognising that their previous console had divided gaming audiences. It’s easy to see Nintendo’s main strategy with the Wii U, to level the playing field, they are determined not to be the outsider anymore. I ask the question isn’t that what we liked about the Wii.
During the last console generation Nintendo took a bold stance on gaming, innovation and creation over technical prowess. The power of the Wii’s hardware was never something Nintendo seemed to care about, they wanted to make great games and they did, the Wii was the crowning achievement in Nintendo’s illustrious history, their greatest console yet, and with it they broke down the barriers of gaming.
Now everyone has followed suit, Nintendo’s new motion controlled style of gaming has inspired innovative creations like Xbox Kinect and Nintendo’s DS platforms have in turn changed the way we play portable games, with platforms like the i-phone and i-pad, which share a similar simplified control method, becoming ever more popular as gaming platforms.
The truth of the matter is while Nintendo has made great leaps forward, they remain, in the eyes of the more ‘hardcore gamer’, defiantly stuck in the past. Nintendo has previously made statements such as ‘We do not see HD visuals as a necessity, our focus is one delivering great games’. They have now however succumb to the pressure, if Nintendo want to succeed in a difficult financial climate, they need to appeal to a wider audience, exactly the ones they alienated with the Wii.
So here we have the Wii U, a HD powerhouse, capable of running games that were not possible on the Wii, popular franchises like Assassins Creed remained exclusive to the ‘big’ platforms, until now. Nintendo’s new console seems to have been created out of necessity to compete, not to innovate…if not for the controller.
While Wii U will support Wii remotes and still use a sensor bar, it also has something new up it’s sleeve, the fact is, Nintendo cannot create a console without any innovation, it’s against their ethos, a proud legacy that gives them the stature of gaming gods. Their new innovation, is the Wii U’s new controller.
Nintendo have slapped a big screen in the center of a traditional controller set up, designed to be the perfect way to play the majority of gaming blockbusters that will more than likely be throwing themselves at the system in time.
The screen will be a touchscreen, usable with or without a stylus and will allow users another screen to play with along with their games, a inventory could be stored there for games like Zelda or a map to aid a game’s progress, this is of course nothing new, and if Nintendo had purely done this their new console would have little to shout about.
Where the controller’s screen really makes advances is in it’s ability to be fully capable of the displaying what could usually only be displayed on a television, the game it’s self.
Here’s the situation, you’re playing a game on the telly and someone else wants to watch TV for example, instead of having to turn your game off or find a save point, you can continue to play the game uninterrupted on the screen of your controller. Stick in some headphones and the gaming can continue, more intimately on your own personal screen.
It’s a huge leap forward, something I can see myself taking great advantage of. Coupled with the ability to use the screen independently to play a selection of i-pad like games, like checkers, it is holding it’s own against Apple’s i-pad revolution also.
I haven’t even touched on the instant in game interaction between the screen and new Wii U games, it’s in-built camera with web chat abilitys and an on board gyro sensor. It’s a clever piece of kit, and has potential to change the way we play games once again, it’s perhaps not the major leap in video games innovation that the original Wii was but it’s reassuring that Nintendo are still a company that want to enhance the experience of playing video games and not just deliver the same experience we’ve had for years, just with better graphics.
Still there’s still plenty of unanswered questions about Wii U. Just how long can it compete with Microsoft and Sony on a purely technical level? Is their hardware going to be able to hold up against the power of their new consoles, when of course they appear. More importantly what games will Nintendo themselves be developing for the new system, at present owners of all 3 present consoles have both ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ games at their disposal, they’ll be able to play the new Assassin’s Creed on their 360 or ps3, they don’t need a Wii U to be able to enjoy that. What I want to see is new Nintendo exclusives, that offer new experiences. Nintendo have been grasping onto the market by milking their popular franchises for all they’re worth, and while they haven’t delivered a bad game yet, they are, in my opinion in need of fresh franchises for a new generation of gamers.
Only time will tell if the Wii U will be a major success for Nintendo or not. They’re new controller may still not be enough to tempt gamers away from they’re 360’s of PS3’s but maybe their heritage will, Nintendo make great games, pure and simple, they always have. With Wii U they are giving gamers the ability to enjoy their own latest offerings while still being able to enjoy the kinds of experiences they have on the 360 and PS3 and that can only be a good thing.
This has been a guest article by Tom Perry one of our friends from Blastprocess.com