Nintendo introduces Wii U ‘Miiverse’, Black Wii U GamePad, Wii U Pro Controller, and More
So the Nintendo Pre-E3 Press Conference is said and done (and live-blogged), and boy do we have a chunk of news to share with you. The Miiverse, new controller design, Pro Controller, and black color scheme were all shown, so let’s get down to what you want: the details.
Of the bite-size announcements made thus far, the most major is the unveiling of the “Miiverse”, a living network of your Miis, your family’s Miis, and most importantly, your grandma’s Miis.
If you’ve played the Nintendo Wii, you most likely know what a Mii is – it’s a simple little avatar that represents you, the games you play, and can be incorporated into a number of games like Wii Sports and Mario Kart Wii.
As of this evening, Nintendo has unveiled the Miiverse and a number of its capabilities – namely its functionality of connecting you with other Wii U systems across the Internet, both people you do and don’t know. It essentially acts as an expanded version of the Mii plaza from the Wii, where your cutesy little avatars will shuffle around an open room, grouping around bubbles and icons that represent friend messages and games to play.
It will also contain a billboard or “wall” of sorts, where players you know can post screenshots of games they’ve been playing, as well as post their thoughts on the game. As an example, we saw people posting comments about how “too cute” one character in a Mario game was – pretty neat.
The messaging system will include a “spoiler checkbox” to help prevent players from demolishing other player’s experience with a game. Through messaging, you can send cute little messages and pictochat drawings to one other.
As our own Lawrence “livebloggin” Sonntag was quick to point out, a number of hand-drawn dicks will likely grace your Wii U inbox each morning, given you have the same type of friends he has (us).
The Miiverse will be available on more than just the Wii U, post-launch it will find its way to the Nintendo 3DS, the PC, and even mobile devices that have an Internet browser, such as iOS and Android phones and tablets.
Oh, and it’ll also act as the home-screen for your Wii U. More on that at the press conference.
New Controller Design & Name
Though it was leaked and rumored weeks ago that the Wii U’s controller shown at E3 2011 had seen some alterations, we got the official look during the livestream this evening – and it seems the leaks were pretty spot on.
Among the changes was the removal of the analog nubs seen in prior demos in favor of full-featured analog sticks, complete with click-ability (similar to Xbox and PlayStation analog sticks). The face buttons on the right-hand side were shifted slightly to the left for comfort, there’s now an official Wii U logo on the left hand side, and that little square embossment under the D-Pad is for NFC scanning as seen in the Rayman Legends trailer.
Additionally, there’s now a ‘TV’ button near the bottom, which is used for turning on your television even when the Wii U is off, offering full-fledged remote features – meaning you can essentially use the Wii U controller in place of your regular TV remote for basic functions like channel flipping and volume leveling. Unnecessary? Sort of. Neat? Absolutely.
Also, the official name for the controller is the Wii U Gamepad. Doesn’t roll of the tongue quite like Wiimote, but I’ll live.
Wii U Pro Controller
Drawing pretty obvious inspiration from the Xbox 360 controller is the newly announced Wii U Pro Controller, reminiscent of…oh, I don’t know, the Wii Pro Controller.
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata showcased the controller briefly, saying that gamers might find it more useful for longer play sessions or differing play styles.
Notably, it’s also black – which leads us into the next topic of discussion…
The Black Controller Scheme
As seen in the short skit in the livestream, a never-before-seen black-colored Nintendo Wii U and Gamepad were on display. Nintendo didn’t address the matter specifically, but one can only hope to see a multitude of colors at launch – unlike the Wii, whose color variations were launched over a number of years.
Yes I’m still bitter about having to buy a white Wii instead of a black one.
Video Chatting and Internet Surfing
Also touched on lightly in the showcase was web-video chatting and web-surfing capabilities. As you can see in the picture a few lines up, you’ll be able to chat with grandpa over the Wii U Miiverse, granted you can get him to buy the system. That’s pretty much the extent of it, cool nonetheless.
While we caught a quick glimpse of the browser capabilities of the Wii U at E3-prior, we now know that you can show content in even quirkier ways — like behind a curtain. If you wanted to unveil a funny picture, or maybe a video to your house guests, you could just swipe it up to your TV (from your Wii U Gamepad) for all to enjoy. Now though, you can hide it behind a curtain for a few seconds. Cool right?
And that’s pretty much the gist of it, that’s essentially the big news of the livestream. Running just about 30 minutes, Nintendo is saving the big-hitters for their E3 press conference on Tuesday morning – which they clarified would almost entirely encompass new software (games) for the Wii U.
Put on your excited pants folks, it’s going to get…erhm, exciting.
STEALTH LAWRENCE EDIT:
Thanks to @VaatiVidya for sharing