If there’s one thing Nintendo is known for, it’s innovation. It was their NES console that helped revolutionize home console gaming after the fabled crash of the early 80s and since then, they’ve become one of the biggest and arguably the most recognizable brand name in video gaming. Regardless of the general opinion regarding the Wii‘s success or failure (not talking just sales numbers), it can’t be denied that it was a new thing for gaming as a whole with what it helped do in mainstreaming motion controls and console gaming.
Nintendo aims to continue that trend with the Wii U, and even if we don’t find out the exact release date for a full year, it’s safe to say it will be a hot item once it does release, regardless of the current skepticism. Senior Producer of Nintendo, Katsuya Eguchi, decided to talk a bit about the development of the new system.
Eguchi explained that the reason the system was called the “Wii U” was to establish it as a continuation of the Wii, in terms of innovation (read: to sell to millions of Wii owners who don’t know better). He said that there were a number of things that they wanted to do with the Wii, but for one reason or another, they simply couldn’t. He viewed the Wii U as a natural progression from the innovations that they made with the Wii, and also promised that those who bought the peripherals for the Wii wouldn’t be left out, as the Wii U would be able to use those same peripherals.
While it’s good that investment into Wiimotes won’t be put to waste, the tech is obsolete compared to the power and accuracy of Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect. This is another example of selling to the new built-in casual gaming audience Nintendo reached with the Wii. With the 3DS not being able to market itself or sell well, despite the popularity of the DS, will the Wii U face a similar issue?
“You’re absolutely right, those are just some of the huge challenges ahead of us — getting people to really understand what Wii U can offer. We have some experiences here right now — with Chase Mii and ‘shield Pose’ — and we have a great opportunity to give people time to play the games, so we’ll take advantages of expos, conferences and in-store demos, but we really want people to understand how the TV screen and controller screen interact and how that changes the experience. And we’ve come up with a variety of uses. but you’re right, we can’t explain them all, and I don’t even think we’ve thought of them all. I’m sure there are many uses that haven’t been thought of yet.”
He also talked about potential third-party developers for the system, mentioning that he hopes that they will be open to ideas on how to use their proven IPs on the new system, factoring in the unique controller. He mentioned that there would, naturally, be a number of returning IPs for the system, but also said that if they could find a new IP to capitalize on they certainly would.
Everyone loves Mario, Donkey Kong, Kirby and the bunch and we expect new iterations of all their popular series, but Nintendo takes criticism for not having introduced new characters and/or IPs in quite some time – will the Wii U and its unique controller design allow them to open up creatively on the video game side?
Eguchi also addressed the story about the system implementing downloadable content on the Wii U, and said that while they would certainly include such a thing, they would still continue with disc-based games on the Wii successor. There will of course also be simpler games being usable on the touchscreen only, without needing to turn the system on but Eguchi wouldn’t open up on this topic.
Eguchi is saying some of the right things to promote the Wii U, but the information presented doesn’t exactly help the stigma going around that Nintendo is essentially playing catch-up to the other gaming companies. We’ll have to wait and see if this will take off as well as the company is hoping.
Can the system succeed where the Wii failed?