As we reported yesterday, Nintendo held one of its increasingly common Nintendo Direct presentations to discuss the "concept" behind the Wii U. We all thought it was going to be pretty uneventful, but Nintendo managed to surprise us and then some.
The big news from the presentation was the redesigned Wii U controller which is now dubbed the Wii U Gamepad. Iwata says that the name was referencing the NES controller and how many fans referred to it as a gamepad due to it being flat. The name wasn't the only change, however, as he confirmed that the Wii U was to have analog sticks instead of the circle pads from last year's prototype.
The analog sticks were revealed with a leak from Traveler's Tales last month, but we also noticed two extra buttons that had us all confused. Nintendo explained these two mystery buttons during the presentation as a TV button and an NFC reader/writer. The TV button will allow the Wii U Gamepad to operate independently of the Wii U and become an infrared universal remote. The NFC reader/writer is for scanning in cards or action figures which we saw in the leaked Rayman Legends trailer.
The company also showed off what the Wii U is capable of in the online realm through a bizarre commercial featuring a young man playing a zombie-themed FPS. It's one of the most bizarre things that Nintendo has ever created and I couldn't help but laugh at how absurd it was.
As you can see from the commercial, Nintendo is introducing a social networking service directly into their console called the Miiverse. It allows gamers to see what their friends and other people playing the same game are saying. It's comparable to a constant dialogue running in the background about your favorite games that you can see whenever you hit up the home menu.
One of the things that you will notice in the commercial is that one of the people is browsing the Miiverse on their mobile phone. Nintendo will be bringing Miiverse to the 3DS, PC and browser-enabled mobile devices. It will be available for the Wii U at launch, but the service will be launching at a later date for other platforms.
One of the other components of the Miiverse is called Mii Wara Wara which roughly translates to "the sound of things happening." It's meant to relate the concept of people talking about the games they're playing. You may notice that the Wii U home screen shows a bunch of game icons with Miis gathering around them with speech bubbles talking about said title.
This functionality will also be extended to games as Nintendo showed the same Mii speech bubbles appearing over specific levels in what appears to be New Super Mario Bros. Mii.
Nintendo spent the majority of the presentation talking up the Wii U Gamepad and the Miiverse as ways to expand the gaming audience and make our lives more connected. That's great and all, but there are some gamers that don't want that. Nintendo isn't going to ignore the core this time around as they are also releasing what they call the Wii U Pro Controller for those who want more traditional control methods. It is essentially an Xbox 360 controller but with both analog sticks at the top.
If you want to catch up on all the news revealed during the Nintendo Direct presentation, you can watch it below. Nintendo used this event to focus on the controller and online, so expect nothing but games Tuesday during Nintendo's press conference. Check back here for our coverage to see what Nintendo has in store for the next year and beyond.