Our thoughts and predictions for the system at E3 and beyond.
With E3 on the near horizon, we’ve decided to take a moment and try to predict a few details about the Wii U. This list is completely speculatory, however, if we get them most or all right, we’ll be looking into buying a lotto ticket that night.
Nintendo DS Player
Several years ago, Nintendo was toying with the idea of playing Nintendo DS games on the Wii, the same way people could play Game Boy Advance games on the GameCube with the Game Boy Player; the idea never panned out, because the Wii Remote couldn’t properly recreate the feel of actually touching a screen. The Wii U, however, already has a second screen, a stylus, a microphone and more, which is everything they need to properly recreate Nintendo DS titles. I expect that at some point, Nintendo will reveal a sort of Nintendo DS Player that will allow for handheld titles to be played on a much larger screen.
Wii U interface still not as robust
Whenever one is designing a user interface, or any major program, there is a trade-off that needs to be made between ease of use and functionality. For the last few systems (DSi, Wii, 3DS) Nintendo has firmly rooted themselves in the “ease of use” camp. The concept of “everything is a square on this large white screen of squares” is one that Nintendo has found appealing, as it’s fairly easy to understand how to get to where you want to go. Given what we’ve seen of the Wii U so far, there’s not much reason to suspect that this aesthetic style will be changing in favor of a more robust system.
Wii programs carry over to Wii U?
Remember when Nintendo was talking about all the things the Wii could do, such as deliver news and weather information? The idea of packed-in “channels” hasn’t disappeared, as seen by the inclusion of Nintendo 3DS Sound, so we can expect a few of these on the Wii U as well. I doubt that weather or news will be returning, but we’re certain to see a return of the Mii Maker, and perhaps the Check Mii Out Channel as well. Netflix and Hulu Plus won’t be far behind, either, and I feel that there’s something that has yet to be seen as well.
Wii U tablet picture frame?
While we’re on the subject, how many people ended up using the Photo Channel on the Wii? It’s not certain how popular it was, and we don’t know if Nintendo kept any statistics on the subject. What we do know is that the Wii U tablet controller has the potential to be the world’s tackiest digital picture frame. Would Nintendo try it?
Chase Mii to become one of the pack-ins
The day of packing in all new consoles with a top-tier game has passed, but Nintendo is still intent on including software that shows off what a system is capable of. The Wii had Wii Sports, the 3DS had Face Raiders and AR Games, so what will the Wii U include? We believe that among the pack-in titles will be Chase Mii, the multiplayer demo title shown at E3 2011. It uses Wii Remotes and the Wii U controller together, and is something an entire family can easily pick up and enjoy together. There may be other titles included as well, but we think Chase Mii is particularly suited as one of the software pieces to introduce the Wii U’s tablet functionality.
Wii U shop modeled off of 3DS eShop, possibly with new name
One area where the Nintendo 3DS has improved significantly is its online store. While the organization of titles is a bit iffy, the mechanics of downloading, redeeming codes and more ae fairly solid and simple, and the lineup so far has been excellent. Additionally, the strength of its online presence has kept handheld interest alive during periods where there were fewer retail games coming out. Nintendo is sure to try and continue this success on the Wii U, and will likely model the new shop after the eShop. It’s also likely that they will keep the eShop name, as it’s rather catchy, though if they do decide to choose a new name, it will be something equally as catchy and easy to remember; something they can put on promotion material for non-core gamers would be excellent.
Wii U Ware will be available immediately
It’s already been confirmed that the Wii U will launch with the ability to download retail games, despite the fact that one Wii U game probably exceeds internal storage many times over. Smaller titles have been a big success on the 3DS, however, and Nintendo has noticed, which is why we believe that there will be smaller “Wii U Ware” titles available for download at launch day, alongside the retail launch lineup. It’s doubtful that they will continue to enforce size limits, but considering how hard it is to get a demo out of Nintendo for most games, we aren’t holding our breath for lots of those.
Internal battery will last 12 hours on full charge
Wii owners rejoice: the Wii U will not require AA batteries! It’s been known for a long time that the Wii U controller will have a rechargeable battery, but how long will it last between charges? The way we see it, the controller is similar enough to one of Nintendo’s dual-screen handhelds, except it doesn’t need to do any internal processing and calculation; it’s essentially a straight input/output device with a screen. There’s no way it can last as long as a normal controller, but we think the machine will be able to last roughly 12 hours on a full charge.
Nintendo will tout the security of this system, stating that they learned from mistakes of the Wii
As we’ve mentioned many times in the past, the Wii did not have an operating system, making it unique among the consoles of that generation. While it makes the system more lightweight, it has two major downsides: patches for games are totally impossible, and piracy is significantly easier. Looking at the 3DS, and how it allows for things like pausing one process temporarily or patching games, Nintendo has clearly learned their lesson. They’ll say as much this year, talking about the mistakes they made with the Wii, and how the Wii U will be significantly more secure and usable.
Online better than last gen
It’s no shocker that Nintendo’s online infrastructure, or lack thereof, wasn’t hugely popular. Sure, the service is free, but that’s about the only real positive side to it. Entering in strings of numbers was a pain, even with the Wii Remote. This time around, Nintendo will do better in the online space, but not by huge leaps and bounds. We’ll see friend lists and easy to remember usernames, but unlike services like Xbox Live, we’ll not have much in the way of in-game chat or even party chat while others are playing different games. Instead, Nintendo will shoehorn their own archaic system into the Wii U and expect us to be wooed.
Launch colorwill be white
Lighter colors seems to be the default for Nintendo, especially in light of near elimination of the red old-school logo. If you take a trip to Nintendo.com, you’ll notice it’s dominated by the lighter, easy on the eyes shades of color that pair nicely with white. It seems to be a Nintendo theme across their presence. With that said, white was what the Wii launched as and since we don’t think they’ll change the name of the Wii U, why would they change the launch color either?
Titles we’ll see at E3
This year, we’ll get to see even more from Nintendo in the way of games. Pikmin 3 is already confirmed to be there, but that doesn’t mean more Nintendo IPs won’t be there. With rumors of a new Star Fox floating about, that is one possibility. Another is a new Mario game that builds on the concept of the demo experience New Super Mario Bros. Mii. Nintendo will also reveal a new IP that will make picking up a Wii U a must in many eyes. There will also be several third party games shown in video form, but most of them will not be playable at E3.
The Wii U will launch sometime before the end of the year; that’s been confirmed by Nintendo. What hasn’t been confirmed are the number of games and what they are. The news of Pikmin 3, and the fact that Shigeru Miyamoto and his team have been working on it for awhile, may put that one in the launch camp. A new Mario game along the lines of New Super Mario Bros. may also grace that period. What will help though is a Wii Sports game for the Wii U, but not necessarily a sports game. Instead, this will be an original IP that Nintendo has been developing specifically to showcase the assets of the Wii U. Third party games will also play a part, but most of these will be rushed and probably not worth the money.
To extend the deadline to third parties and to stagger releases of the few games Nintendo will release at the beginning for Wii U, there will once again be a window. This window will extend from the first day Wii U launches, to two or three months afterwards. In this window, expect many of the third party releases that were touted at E3.
Zelda Wii U trotted out by Miyamoto
Last year, Nintendo showcased a tech demo of Link walking into a room with pretty graphics. This year at the Nintendo E3 Presentation (or perhaps the roundtable event), they’ll bring out Shigeru Miyamoto to talk about Zelda in general and how they’re working on a new version for Wii U. The demo that was shown and the final product will look not too similar, but it will give Wii U a sales boost, at least in the US.
Price will be $299 or less
Even though we’re not getting a date or price at E3, it’s not going to launch for more than $299. Nintendo learned a lesson with the Nintendo 3DS, that just because they you have a great deal of market-share doesn’t necessarily guarantee that consumers will pay high prices for your product. Sony has also been slowly learning this with their originally sky high price point of the PlayStation 3. Nintendo, besides making games, is about profitability.
Graphics will be above the current generation, but not by much
There are many rumors flying around the internet about the graphical prowess of the Wii U. It’s hard to figure out which is on the mark or completely out of reality. Couple this with the “Satoru Iwata era” style of hardware, where they don’t necessarily focus on power and it seems to spell doom for graphic lovers out there. Nintendo also likes to keep the cost of the hardware down, which points to lesser components perhaps. Expect the Wii U to be a step above what is currently available, but not by any great leaps or bounds.
NFC will be talked about during the Presentation, but not present on the show floor
There was a bit of excitement when a leaked Rayman Legends trailer surfaced. This trailer in question showed one of the possibilities of the Wii U Near Field Communication. Nintendo will tout this awesome feature at their Presentation with a video and maybe a brief demonstration, but it sadly won’t make it to the show floor for anyone to go hands-on with.