T Minus One and Counting...
Nintendo's giving us a head start with a look into some of the features and tech surrounding the Wii U today, and there's quite a few talking points. But first, if you haven't seen it, here's the video:
The Controller - New and Improved
There's the "NFC Reader" in the left hand side beneath the D-Pad. According to Satoru Iwata, that's for 'reading and writing' data to and from the remote. The quickest thought here is that they're jumping into Skylanders territory, allowing for the transfer of data between figures or trading cards. My immediate thought for this? Get ready to drop a lot of bucks on Pokemon figurines.
You'll also notice a TV button. The Wii U pad can be used as a universal remote for your TV, as well as switching your gameplay video feed directly to the gamepad's screen, in all it's HD glory. Hopefully the display has improved since last year. Either way, taking a break from the action to drop a deuce is no longer necessary; Now Assassin's Creed 3 can come with me, and ensure that nobody else ever wants to touch my Wii U controller.
The Other Controller - Going Pro
Along with the bulky, somewhat intimidating Wii U Gamepad, Nintendo announced the Gamepad Pro, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's basically the Classic Controller Pro, with the sticks and face buttons/D-Pad inverted to match the Wii U's form.
Yes, it may resemble a 360 controller, but I would like to point out two things on that. One, the 360 layout is exactly like the Gamecube's, only with uniform face buttons. So technically they 'copied' first. Two, there are only so many designs for a controller out there, and comfortable is comforter. And okay, a third thing? Nintendo's controllers always feel the best, and that D-Pad won't be garbage, so there's that.
It's worth noting that this controller appears to have a USB port at the top, implying that a rechargeable battery pack is built into it. So that's good news, eh? This also seems to solve the "How are we playing Smash Bros. on this if they only allow one Wii U Gamepad?" thing that's been bothering me. You'll also notice that there's 4 lights, implying that all 4 controllers can be used at, forsaking the need for, or in addition to, the Wii U's tablet-like controller.
The Galaxy at Your Fingertips - Miiverse
This is a totally Nintendo thing right here. Their answer to online gameplay is unique to say the least. I don't think we're looking at a final version here, but more of a prototype, but either way I'm very intrigued. There was talk of a sort of Forum like structure, allowing people to leave thoughts and tips on a game, completely accessible from the Wii U's menu while the game is on. I prefer to see it as the evolution of the notepad feature in the 3DS.
They also talked about video conferencing, which is amazing, as well as interactivity with PC's, 3DS's, and Mobile Phones. It's very clear that Nintendo has spent some time going "alright, they want online? We'll give them online." I'm admittedly reserved... When I say this is "total Nintendo," that means there's a good chance there's going to be some freakishly jarring safety features to keep people from drawing penises and turning the video conferencing into Chat Roulette.
There's also a neat sort of annotation feature that's going into live games, which I think will end up being implemented similar to the way Demons' Souls uses it. People can leave notes of empathy, frustration, or useful tips along the stages, to be implemented however developers see fit. Hopefully there will be a way of keeping spoilers out of there, or at least limiting it to friends only (which I imagine will be the case for most of these features), and overall it seems like a really cool way to interact with other Nintendo fans.
Oh, Never Mind That Mario Game
Aside from the cryptic "He's baaaack" left next to Samus' icon in the screenshot above, Nintendo showed off that annotation functionality atop a strikingly New Super Mario Bros. looking game. Somehow, they did this without even mentioning Mario, in what is one of the most painful teases I have ever seen. Look at those mountains in the back? That shit's right out of Super Mario World, and they just brushed over it. Nintendo, you sly bitches.
What I find most interesting is that, again, while showing off the annotation feature, they seem to be hinting at New Super Mario Bros. Wii U features. Notice how one person talks about being a flying squirrel, and another mentions a cute baby Yoshi that inflates. Curious and curiouser, I am.
Those are my thoughts and updates on the Wii U. Tomorrow's going to be a big press conference day for everybody BUT Nintendo, so there will be tons of ground to cover. I'll be posting my thoughts and another Smash blog, so keep tuned.