By Patrick Avenell
Nintendo yesterday released a video on its YouTube channel outlining some of the new features from its upcoming Wii U gaming console. A 30-minute video in a time-poor world is a touch ambitious, so here is a cheat sheet so you can skip the boring bits and absorb the interesting information.
00:00: A fantastically boring man in a “plainly furnished” room in Kyoto explains the company philosophy of “creating something unique”.
2:30: A family using a laptop, iPad, Kindle and smartphone sit in a room to emphasise the “Alone Together” mentality that Nintendo hopes to address with the Wii U. Remember this phrasing as this is a circular theme of the video.
3:30: The Wii U Gamepad makes it first appearance, and the classic NES gamepad is discussed. Young viewers will find it amusing that games could ever be played with so few buttons.
4:40: The updated Wii U Gamepad is compared to the 2011 prototype. A sort-of 4-dimensional joystick is demonstrated. There’s also a more ergonomic design and an NFC reader/writer.
6:20: The Gamepad can double as a universal remote via infrared for TV and cable. Sweaty palms at Logitech…
7:10: Dual screen play (TV and Gamepad) is demonstrated: there’s a golf game simulation and then a baseball clip. It looks pretty good, but totally bizarre at the same time.
9:30: The Gamepad can be used to play “casual games” without using the TV. An example of this is while doing your Wii Fit routine. The Gamepad screen can also mirror, apparently without delay, whatever is on your TV.
10:40: A separate peripheral is the Wii U Pro Controller. Our host says it’s “lighter and may be more attractive for longer, more intense forms of gaming”. Unclear if that means it will work with poker machines.
12:40: An excruciating short film shows ‘Todd’ using the Wii message boards and closed social media streams to find out how to beat a zombie in a game. His mate ‘Warren’ can’t help, but this old dude comes up with the answer. Turns out you have to hold up the Gamepad to identify the zombie’s weak spot. Trust me: this paragraph saved you five minutes of your life.
17:00: Back to the host, who showcases the new menu screen, called Mii Wara Wara. The Japanese use the term ‘wara wara’ to refer to the hubbub of a large gathering, so the literal English translation is Mii Rhubarb Rhubarb.
18:20: The menu screen on the Wii U Gamepad shows a social media platform similar to Twitter in that comments from other gamers appear, as do game recommendations and calls for hints and tricks. This is called the Miiverse, a portmanteau of Mii and Universe.
19:40: The Miiverse will be your start-up screen on the Wii U and can be accessed at anytime while your game is on pause.
20:00: “The idea of a video game network is not new” – thanks for that scoop.
20:30: Typing and message reading on the Miiverse via the Gamepad is demonstrated. This looks very similar to Twitter (or should that be ‘Twiitter’?)
21:00: The Wii U Gamepad stylus is demonstrated. I distinctly remember a time when the mere the presence of a stylus made a product unsaleable.
21:30: The Miiverse is a combination of text, writing and pictures, so it’s like a handheld 4Chan?
22:50: The motivation behind creating the Miiverse is to create a greater degree of empathy between players, says our host. Clearly ‘GG’ and ‘BM’ is not enough interaction.
23:10: The Wii U Gamepad is a “social window” that “links player to player, living room to living room”. This would be considered revolutionary, were it not for the telephone being invented 136 years ago.
24:25: The Miiverse will “eventually” be available on other devices, such as a smartphone, a PC or a Nintendo 3DS.
25:20: Some very high concept guff about the philosophical strategy behind the Wii and the Wii U.
26:15: The Gamepad includes an internet browser. I would have included that detail earlier in the video. You can mirror the browser on you TV, and also hide this content behind a curtain.
28:30: The Wii U is best described as ‘Together Better’, says our host, who then goes on a ramble about empathy and friendship. Remember at the start how they were hoping to solve the problem of ‘Alone Together’? This is the big reveal.