Nintendo Direct Pre-E3 Wii U Recap

WiiU_GamePad

Nintendo’s pre-E3 Wii U special wrapped up about an hour ago now. Did you see it? Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to my PC in time to watch the live-stream from the beginning, but I did catch the last half. If you didn’t catch all of it either, Nintendo has uploaded the complete presentation to YouTube, which I have embedded here for easy viewing (after watching what I missed first, naturally).

If you don’t care to watch — it is a bit slow and dull, I have to say — here are the highlights:

– The Wii U tablet controller has been redesigned slightly from the prototype and is now officially called the Wii U GamePad, harkening back to the old NES gamepad. What’s different about the final design? Well, it has full, in-clicking analog sticks rather than Nintendo 3DS-style circle pad sliders. That’s a smart upgrade for sure. The button layout has been shifted a bit to offset the D-pad from the left analog stick and the face buttons from the right analog stick for added comfort. The handgrips are now said to be easier to hold as well. Finally, there’s an NFC reader/writer space underneath the D-pad which will allow for scanning certain cards and figures. On the downside, the GamePad does look like it’s a tad bulkier than the prototype. I still have concerns about holding that sucker for extended periods of time.

– The Wii U GamePad will function as a universal remote, meaning it can double as a TV remote control even when the Wii U itself is not in use. Now that’s pretty neat, Nintendo!

WiiU_ProController

– For more core-style games, a Wii U Pro Controller will be available, much like the Wii’s Classic Controller. Its build looks virtually identical to an Xbox 360 controller, only the analog sticks are not offset. This should come in handy when you’re not in the mood to lug around that GamePad for long sessions.

There’s also quite a bit of discussion centered around the Wii U’s online social networking features, but honestly, none of that stuff interests me in the slightest. It’s cool if you’re into that sort of thing (which most people are), but I’m just not high on social networking in general.

Watch the full video to see some of these new Wii U features in action.

[Update] Here is additional information provided by Nintendo:

New ways to play: With the television and the Wii U GamePad working as two integrated screens, Wii U creates unique possibilities for gaming, allowing “asymmetric” game play where each player can have different goals, challenges and views within the same shared gaming experience.

Miiverse: Miiverse is a brand-new network communication system that lets gamers from around the world share experiences, discuss games and discover new content. Using their personalized Mii character, players enter Miiverse and see games, applications or entertainment content that either they have interacted with recently, expressed interest in learning more about or that their friends are using or discussing. From here they can challenge their friends to play together, ask a question about a difficult level or discover new elements of their favorite games they never knew existed. After a notable achievement or other share-worthy moment, players can pause their game or application and seamlessly post messages to the Miiverse community.

Wii U GamePad controls: In addition to the previously announced touch-screen and motion controls, the Wii U GamePad was redesigned and improved from its reveal in 2011. The new form factor offers players dual analog stick controls and can be used as a remote control for users’ TVs, even while the Wii U console is turned off. Nintendo also announced availability of the Wii U Pro Controller as a separate peripheral.

Wii compatibility: All game discs for the Wii system are compatible with Wii U, and the system will support controllers for the Wii system.

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Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!