E3 technically starts tomorrow and runs from 4 – 7 June. As is the norm with these large gaming expos, the bigger companies hold pre-E3 presentations; most of these will be happening today (Monday) and we’ll begin seeing the live feeds trickling in this evening. Nintendo, however, decided to get a super-early start on things as they’ve already held a conference. The focus of the conference was obviously the Wii U and its controller as well as social features; this was delivered via a pre-recorded presentation featuring Satoru Iwata.
The Wii U’s touch-pad controller is now officially called the Wii U GamePad, and it’s undergone a bit of a layout alteration with the thumbsticks moving a little to the side. They’re also proper thumbsticks and no longer sliders. What’s more, the Wii U GamePad has an NFC (Near Field Communication) reader to read cards and other objects. Our guess: expect a ton of Skylander type games to hit the Wii U.
Nintendo also unveiled a new controller for the Wii U, which the company has dubbed the Pro Controller; this brings the number of different Wii U controllers up to five. It’s very similar in layout to contemporary controllers, which is a good thing considering it’s being made so that developers have an easier time getting their “core” games onto Nintendo’s new toy.
Online is going to play a massive role in Nintendo’s Wii U, and a large amount of the console’s social features were shown off during the pre-recorded demonstration. Central to this is the Miiverse, which populates your console homescreen with all of the Miis tied to accounts on your Wii U. In addition, all of your friends and all other local Miis currently playing games will add to the throng of Wii avatars populating your console’s main page.
Nintendo said that the Miiverse was dubbed the “Mii Wara Wara” during development. “Wara wara” is a Japanese term for the noise a large crowd of people makes. I guess the English equivalent would be “Mii Rabble Rabble”. Yes, I can see why Nintendo marketing opted for Miiverse instead.
The Miiverse will have speech bubbles popping up above Miis as the corresponding player sends a message. Think of it like Nintendo’s very own version of Twitter. The Wii U GamePad will be central to all social interactions on the Wii U, so all of the messages posted by your friends will be displayed on your Wii U GamePad. What’s more, you’ll be able to use the device’s built-in camera for making video calls over Nintendo’s network.
Just in case you thought the Wii U GamePad was lacking features, the device can be used as a standard TV remote as well. Handy!
Nintendo is clearly taking the whole online social aspect very seriously this time around. You can see the whole 30 minute presentation below where all of these new features are demonstrated.