If you missed Nintendo’s latest Nintendo Direct broadcast, hold onto your hats, readers, because boy does Nintendo have some news for you!
Our beloved Wii U controller has now been christened the Wii U Game Pad, a name which stems back to the original NES Game Pad controller. It’s also undergone a big re-design, swapping the thumb pads for proper analogue sticks that not only move in 360 degrees, but can also be pushed and pressed down as well. The back of the controller has also been redesigned for added comfort.
The left side of the controller now sports an NFC reader/writer that can read objects when they’re placed on top of it.
There’s also a new TV button on the bottom right hand corner of the Game Pad which turns your Wii U Game Pad into a TV remote, allowing you the simple pleasure of being able to turn off your console and your TV screen all from your controller.
Iwata also re-stated that the Wii U Game Pad will be able to support the same level of graphics as what’s shown on the TV without any delay.
Wii U will also support the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, the Wii Balance Board, and the newly-announced Wii U Pro Controller for multi-format games.
But perhaps the biggest piece of news to come out of this Nintendo Direct was the announcement of the Miiverse. A mash-up of Mii and Universe, the Miiverse is essentially what comes up on your TV screen whenever you power up Wii U.
Icons of games you’re playing (and even games you don’t own) will appear on the TV screen surrounded by hoards of Miis offering messages about their user’s experience with the game. Miis which will appear in the Miiverse include your own Mii, other Miis registered on your system (like those belonging to your family), your friends’ Miis, as well as Miis from your country who speak the same language.
The Wii U Game Pad will support a traditional kind of menu screen, but these two different interfaces are completely interchangeable and can be swapped over between TV and controller depending on your personal preference.
More importantly, the Miiverse can be activated at any time without terminating your game. You can chat with other players via text message or hand-written notes a la Swapnote, ask for advice, or simply share your experience of the game. You’ll also be able to add images of facial expressions to personalise your message even further.
Another feature is the ability to post screenshots of your own gameplay footage as well as transmit game content you’ve created to other players in order to enrich their gaming experience too.
All this has been designed to add a new degree of empathy between players, to solve what Iwata calls the problem of being “alone together”. The Wii U Game Pad will become a “social window” linking player to player and living room to living room. Even single player games that don’t require any kind of online element can still take advantage of the Miiverse community, allowing you to connect with other players and share your experiences.
But wait, there’s more! The Miiverse will be available on any web-enabled mobile device, as well as your 3DS and PC. It won’t be available at launch, mind you, but this will mean that you can access it on your phone and call your mates with advice when they’re having trouble. This is all part of the Nintendo Network, something which Nintendo plans to carry forward to future Nintendo devices as well.
And that about wraps things up! What are your thoughts about this information-packed broadcast? Are you excited about the Wii U Game Pad? What do you think about the Miiverse? Sound off in the comments below!