Unlike in previous years where I'm generally interested in E3 and new gaming but wait for news articles, I actually made an effort to check out the announcements in semi-real time. Overall I have to say I'm excited with some of the items I've seen and look forward to learning more as they hopefully flesh out some details later in the week.
So what do we have going on so far?
While I'm a fan of the Wii and Nintendo in general, do we really need it to be 'Wii U'? (soon to be Woo) I understand they want to maintain the connection with the Wii given the backwards compatibility, but if you're going to do that just name it Wii2 and be done with it. Seems to work for Sony, right?
Rumors have been all over the place lately, but generally the idea of a touch screen was pretty solid. Initially I didn't know what to think with not knowing if the screen would be removable, if you would have to buy a tablet controller for each person or what. So far this looks very impressive and somewhat of an amalgamation of a WiiMote and 3DS with a larger screen.
As a relief it doesn't appear that we will be required to purchase "TabletMotes" for additional players. Rather we can use our existing WiiMotes with the tablet being the main hub for several possible purposes. I also think it's very cool to be able to move gameplay off the tv to the tablet as needed. I recently moved my Wii to the office to eliminate the main TV congestion and while it is working well, I would like a large screen for certain games. Not having to move the wii back and forth based on the game and being able to play full titles on the tablet while others watch tv is awesome!
Being able to use the controller for other purposes is also an interesting proposition. An example is an alternate view or perhaps some kind of HUD while the TV contains the action. They also showed several casual examples such as Othello where the gameplay was all on the tablet sort-of in iPad mode.
In addition, it includes a number of other features too. Four buttons, two analog sticks (or perhaps circle pads?), camera, gyroscope, rumble, triggers, shoulder buttons and a touch screen.
Nintendo's E3 site goes into somewhat more detail on some specs to give us a brief overview. They list flash storage, but do not specify an amount. Perhaps this is an indication that they haven't decided on a size or are keeping it close to the vest for other reasons. They also indicate that additional storage options will be SD (assuming up to 32gb) and USB HDD via one of the four USB ports.
Good to hear about SD and a USB HD, but the first thing that comes to mind is if they will provide appropriate use of additional storage and management options unlike the Wii's SD mess. I would honestly like to see a SSD drive, but I suppose that could break the price point.
Sadly there was no mention of online features during the main presentation, although Reggie did briefly mention it during a post-interview with GamesTrailers.com. (perhaps in part III) He was pretty tight-lipped about it stating that more details will flow throughout the week. The general feel, which I didn't like, is that HD is done, online is done and we should just assume it's equivalent to the PS3 and 360 and focus on the experience. At least that's my take.
Sorry Nintendo, while I'm excited, I need to see more of this and perhaps hear from 3rd party developers. Considering the WiiConnect24 was going to be some big huzzah and deliver new content automatically, people want to see if online was done correctly and will be competitive. I'd like to make the assumption that if 3rd party devs are on board and excited that it must deliver at least an acceptable infrastructure. :) I'd sure like to....
Having a more interactive experience without barriers like friend codes is where they need to at least start. While I'm not saying they have to be Steam, anything is better than the current system of isolation.
There was a very nice montage of sorts which was pretty exciting to see some HD content. Finally having more multi-platform games on Wii U with much more 3rd party studio support is a HUGE deal and also a sigh of relief. I believe the 3rd party launch titles were Batman Arkham City, Assassin's Creed, Dirt, Darksiders 2, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge and possibly a few more. I'm not sure that any of these are exclusives (my guess is no) so it's not anything to pull over an existing ps360 gamer for. With there being unique opportunities for devs to utilize the tablet I wonder how many will take advantage of that even on multi-platform releases.
Nintendo's attempt at providing more power features along with not alienating the casual crowd is certainly a daunting task. Prior to the announcement I wasn't sure how this would pan out and if I would just be better suited to get a PS3. We still have a long ways to 2012 and a number of important details to learn about, but I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised and hope things continue to look good as the details unfold.
I'm never a launch-day buyer and without knowing the costs it's difficult to say how quickly I would jump on board. Reggie has carefully stated there will be good valueWii U, specifically making that designation as opposed to price comparisions. It's plausible that we're looking at $300-350, but only time will tell.
Did you see the live stream yesterday and what are your general thoughts on the Wii's successor?