Wednesday, June 8, 2011

E3 Impressions: The WiiU

Picture from
Those who were paying attention to video game news closely had already seen rumors which turned out to spoil what the big twist would be for the next Nintendo console. The twist, is that you have a standard controller (Dpad, dual analog, 4 face buttons, 4 shoulder buttons, rumble) that also has a 6.2 inch touch screen with microphone, front facing camera, speakers, and motion sensing.

The new gameplay types that are supported by this new technology are vast. This allows for (certain) games to be played without the television (as shown in the picture above, the console still plays the game, the picture is just transmitted to the controller). This allows for DS style gameplay where extra information and game controls are placed on the controller's screen. It allows for stylus oriented gameplay. This also allows for asymmetric multiplayer and hidden information.

I believe that the ability to have asymmetric multiplayer and hidden information may be one of the most important aspects of this new system for core gamers. Football game players will be able to select plays in secret. A game called Chase Mii was shown where one player uses the new controller to run away from 4 other players who use Wii Remotes and split-screen. The player being chased has the advantage of their location remaining secret from the other players.

It is also currently said that the system itself will have power comparable to the Xbox 360 and PS3. I'm not sure if it will exceed their graphical power or if it will be slightly weaker. Only time will tell. I firmly believe that in the period of time after the WiiU comes out and before the other next-gen systems comes out will be a great time for Nintedo's console offerings from 3rd-party game developers. However, I'm wondering what will change after Sony and Microsoft release their next consoles.

I do have a few concerns. It is said that this system will be compatible with Wii Remotes, but how many games will use the Wii Remote, and will the system come with a Wii Remote? The tablet controller is great, but there will still be room for games which are best played with the Wii Remote.

How much would an additional tablet controllers cost? Is the system even compatible with more than one? I'm assuming that the WiiU will let you use more than one tablet controller, but I definitely foresee them being rather expensive. A report I saw on Kotaku says that Nintendo is looking into games that would require two of the new controller, but they are definitely aware of price concerns. Also, I fully expect this system to be $250.

Lastly, how will Nintendo improve their online functionality. I personally believe that in order to be taken seriously as an online multiplayer system, the online functionality needs to exceed that of the PS3's in polish.

One thing that I'd like to see from this system is that if you have multiple tablet controllers, you can play multiple virtual console games on different controllers simultaneously. I think that'd be awesome.

I was burned by the Wii. It was not as great of a system for me as I thought that it would be. I'm very excited for this system, but I'm definitely holding back.

I plan on writing a post next about what the WiiU means for Sony and Microsoft and what I'd like to see from their next consoles.