The latest issue of Nintendo Gamer is on sale now.
Was it really been a year since we first clapped our disbelieving, slightly jet-lagged peepers on Wii U? Incredibly, it is, and a lot has changed in those 12 months for a console that isn’t even out yet. We now know a great deal more about the machine than we did at its divisive debut, and we don’t need to dust off the crystal ball to tell you that its future looks bright.
Iwata admits Nintendo had problems communicating what Wii U was about…
That’s not to say our love affair with Wii U started from the instant it was revealed. More ‘uh?’ at first sight, as Nintendo’s slightly muddled reveal confused even seasoned journos. And it’s not us the big N needs to convince. Part of the problem was the focus on the controller. It’s understandable that Nintendo would want to bring attention to the unrivalled breadth of its capabilities, but by featuring games like New Super Mario Bros U and Wii Fit – not to mention peripherals like the Wii Zapper and RemotePlus being used alongside it – it looked more like an add-on to most. Given the success of Nintendo’s previous home console announcement, with its near-exclusive focus on the Wii remote, it’s easy to see why Nintendo would want to repeat the trick, but Wii represented such a huge shift in approach that it couldn’t ever be considered a GameCube peripheral (even though it was originally planned to be just that).
Still, Iwata admitted to investors the difficulties Nintendo faced in communicating the unique appeal of Wii U. “We have no intention to start from scratch and abandon the strengths of the Wii. As a result, people… may wonder if it is merely an improved version of the Wii.”
SECRETS AND FRIES
Of course, Nintendo wasn’t about to give away the console’s biggest secrets. Last year, Wii U was some 18 months away from release, and a certain amount of caginess was therefore essential. “As people in the industry have observed what we have done in the past, if we prematurely disclose our development information, it is possible that products with similar concepts could be launched before Nintendo itself can finalise and launch the products,” explained Iwata. “Please understand that Nintendo cannot elaborate on what we are working on until the time we are ready to make the official announcement, because doing so would negatively affect the real impact of our products when they are released into the market.” By the time you read this, you’ll understand exactly why.
What makes Wii U such a thrillingly unusual proposition for a Nintendo console is that it doesn’t have a single communicable hook, but a ton of them. Game Boy, Nintendo DS, Wii, even Nintendo 3DS: all have had a signature feature that sets them apart, but it’s the wide variety of possibilities that makes Nintendo’s latest machine so unique.
Yet if that means it’s a tough sell, it certainly makes for exciting scope. With analogue sticks, a whole host of buttons, a resistive touchscreen, and Near Field Communication capabilities – not to mention its use as a screen when the TV is occupied – this is a controller that does everything, the “Swiss Army knife of controllers,” as THQ’s soundbite-friendly ex-big cheese Danny Bilson would have it.