Posts Tagged ‘Wii U’

Nintendo’s TVii on Wii U

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Nintendo TVii

It took a month, but Nintendo finally released TVii for the Wii U. This feature on Nintendo’s new game system turns the Wii U gamepad into a touch-screen remote and smart program guide that incorporates online services into live television for following your favorite shows, movies, and sports teams. I spent some time with TVii, and while it’s not a complete or polished service, I was impressed by how smoothly it organizes your television.

The TVii setup process is easy and direct, but it can take some time adding all of your favorite content to the system. First, you need to configure the Wii U to work as a remote control for your TV and set-top box. This is a simple process that you can go through in the Settings menu before you turn on TVii. You need to enter your TV and set-top box manufacturers, perform a few tests to make sure the gamepad is using the right remote codes, and you’re ready to go.

TVii then asks you for your ZIP code and cable or satellite provider. This lets the Wii U know what program guides to use to determine when shows are on and what channels are available at what numbers. Because TVii works by using the gamepad as a remote control, it changes channels by manually entering the number for the channel as a remote control code. There is no actual connection between the Wii U and your set-top box besides the remote, and the interactivity is little different from using an iPad remote app and a remote accessory, like the Griffin Remote.

Once your cable or satellite provider is entered, you can start teaching the Wii U your favorite shows, movies, channels, and sports teams. Shows, movies, and channels appear as a short list of popular choices, which you can click on or off to add to your favorites list. You’ll probably spend most of your time at the far end of the scrolling menu, where a magnifying glass on an empty panel sits. This is the search function, and it lets you search for your favorite shows and movies. Most shows and movies appear with their own graphic for easy organization, but there were several mysterious grey panels scattered through my searches that I couldn’t identify without loading. For the majority of shows and movies I looked for, though, the gamepad showed big, colorful panels that identified them clearly.

Channels are also organized by popular choices first, so if you want to set more targeted channels like the Food Network or the Hub you need to manually enter the channel number in the search menu. Be careful to make sure you enter the HD channel number so you get the most out of the feature.

Finally, sports teams can be selected from NFL, NBA, and NCAA basketball and football choices, presumably because these are the active sports in December. We’ll find out if TVii gets baseball teams in the spring. Adding favorite teams is as easy as adding favorite channels and movies, without the search option. Instead, each team is organized alphabetically in each conference.

Nintendo 3DS Ads Roll Out For Holidays

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Nintendo dish out some prospective propaganda as That Time Of Year™ continues to encroach on us all.

Nintendo 3DS American Ads Roll Out For The Holidays

Things are pretty big for Nintendo right now. There’s the Wii U launch to consider, still awaiting release in some regions of the world. There’s Nintendo’s own promise to ensure that the R4 i 3DS remains a top priority this festive season. There’s even praise coming from Sony, it seems, as Nintendo expands its scope.

But with the coming of the busiest month of shopping on the calendar comes a new range of Nintendo advertising, and the 3DS commercials from Nintendo Of America are out in force!

In the first, various gamer chaps compare New Super Mario Bros. 2 bragging rights. And snails. Obviously.

Despite being released many months ago, both games seem to be big hits for the Christmas period, or so Nintendo seems to hope. Are you looking forward to getting New Super Mario Bros. 2 andFreakyforms! Deluxeyourself? Or have you already played these?

The second commercial focuses on Nintendo of America’s ongoing efforts to characterise the R4 3ds as a trendy lifestyle accessory for the garrulous gal about town. This is possibly due to the ongoing inability planet Earth has to realise that female human beings can play videogames too, without them having to have pixies and chocolate sprinkles on them or something.

R4i 1.4.3 NINTENDO + 4 gb
R4i 1.4.3 NINTENDO + 4 gb

Still, she seems to be having a lovely time, so we can hardly blame her.

So there you have it! The advertising begins. Do these commercials do enough to portray the merits of the 3DS in an admittedly small timeslot? Can Nintendo rely on big name titles and niche new instalments of Style Savvy alone? Will the Wii U itself be making so much noise that our beloved little handheld that could gets forgotten?

As 2012 rushes to a close and harrowed gift-givers rush to the shops, it will fall to campaigns like these to ensure the 3DS’s message is put across. What’s your opinion on the marketing thus far?

Top Gaming’s innovations

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

“Everything is amazing right now–and nobody’s happy.”

It’s the year 2012–it’s the future! There’s a robot with a camcorder on Mars, and our phones get the internet! Cars drive themselves! Even video games have evolved almost beyond recognition–photorealistic graphics, downloadable content, online multiplayer, incredibly immersive experiences–and we who call ourselves “gamers” have more games to choose from than in any other time in history.

But in the words of comedian Louis C.K., “Everything is amazing right now–and nobody’s happy.” Everything we dreamed of when we were kids is now within arms reach, but it’s just not as cool as we expected.

3D gaming

What we expected: 3D has been around for a while in films, so at this point it would basically be perfect, right? Playing games in 3D would give players an unprecedented level of immersion, with things literally jumping out of our screens into our living rooms. 3D glasses would be cheap, comfortable and effective, and every game would support it–hell, maybe we wouldn’t even need glasses at all!

What we got: 3D is supposed to make things more immersive, but in reality it simply puts another barrier between you and your games. Watching plasma bolts fly directly at our faces in the Halo Anniversary edition should instill us with the fear of the Covenant, but instead it just sort of makes us feel nauseous. It’s mainly because instead of things coming out of the screen, 3D usually just makes them look like they’re sitting inside of them. That’s just not what we expected or wanted. And let’s be honest: You’re only going to use those expensive 3D glasses a handful of times before you forget to charge them, and then just stop wearing them altogether. The 3DS is another story–some swear by its glasses-free 3D, but others swear it makes their eyes bleed. Either way you look at it, it’s not perfect, even if games like Super Mario 3D Land and a few others showed that it might, eventually, reach the heights we hoped it would.

Motion controllers

What we expected: Motion controllers would make sports and action games feel more realistic than ever, transforming everyday controllers–in players’ imaginations, at least–into whatever fantastical objects can be displayed on-screen. This would apply to everything from swords and shields to tennis rackets and steering wheels, and the battlefield/court/track would come alive as players’ enthusiastic real-life actions translated directly into the actions of their avatars.

What we got: We were all pretty excited about the Wii–there’s no shame in admitting that–but what we first saw six years wound up to be a lot of smoke and mirrors, and even the upgraded MotionPlus and PlayStation Move controllers haven’t been enough to make up for it. Once everyone realized that you could play Wii Sports tennis by sitting on your butt and flicking your wrist, it was pretty much over for motion controls. And anyone who says they like playing Mario Kart Wii with that plastic wheel is a liar. It can work for swordplay–as in the case of Zelda: Skyward Sword–but those instances are unfortunately few and far between. Personally, we’re glad that Nintendo is going in a different direction with the Wii U.

Gesture controls

What we expected: What could be better than motion controllers? Easy! What if there were no controllers at all? If a complex array of cameras and sensors could detect the very movements of players’ bodies, transforming us into the controllers? Gesture-based or controller-free motion controls would free up players’ hands once and for all and allow them to interact directly with a game’s world–no barriers, no middle-man hardware, just you, a screen, and a million digital faces waiting to be punched.

What we got: Kinect. The first time Microsoft introduced Kinect to the world (at E3 2009, when it was still called Project Natal), it was with a video that showed 1:1 movement tracking, in-game characters speaking players’ names aloud, and a kid scanning in his actual skateboard to use in a game. Obviously, the device didn’t quite deliver on all that. The main mechanics in Kinect Adventures are jumping and ducking in place, and most games that have tried to do anything more complicated with Kinect have bombed (see: Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor). Kinect excels at tracking large, easily discerned movements—expressive dance moves in Dance Central, simple hand motions in the trippy Child of Eden, and even dribbling a basketball in NBA Baller Beats. Those games are certainly a blast; they’re just not what we were hoping for.

What we expected: Games would become like Youtube videos or Facebook photos: Log into your account, and you can access them from anywhere. Hard drive fried? R4 3DS stolen? No worries, just log back in and re-download all your games and saves. Progress would never again be lost, and the barriers of physical hardware–as well as physical borders between regions–would be eliminated. Plus, less physical packaging would mean lower game costs, and less harm to the environment.

What we got: Okay, so a lot of that has come true: The Xbox 360 uses cloud saves, most digital games can be transferred to new devices, downloadable titles are often discounted, and Sony is making some real strides with day one digital releases and bundling PS3 games with their Vita versions. But there’s an ugly side to this new digital age. Platforms like Steam and Xbox Live Arcade restrict game purchases to a single account and lock users into a content ecosystem that they’ll likely never escape. Meanwhile, some well-intentioned PC DRM is getting ridiculous, making it impossible to play a single-player game offline. Digital games can sure be convenient, but we’d have preferred not to be treated like criminals to pay for that convenience.

Online multiplayer

What we expected: Gamers would rejoice and join hands, singing songs of their glorious triumphs and coexisting peacefully as a connected global community of like-minded and friendly competitors. There would be no lag, no one would ever quit out of a match before it finished, and everyone would play fair.

What we got: Needless to say, the rise of mainstream online gaming hasn’t exactly gone over like that. It’s virtually impossible not to fall victim to a few hateful slurs or otherwise immature remarks every time we play online. Often online gaming brings out the ugliest side of many gamers, with the rest of us racing to mute as many obnoxious players as possible before a match starts. On the plus side, at least publishers are giving players the tools to build their own clans and teams within games, which can help with weeding out the jerks. And even Nintendo seems to finally be catching up to the online revolution–it appears they might finally be dumping Friend Codes on the Wii U.

Voice commands

What we expected: By now, games–like everything else in day-to-day life–would be controlled almost entirely by voice. “Lights: dim; door: close; Xbox: on!” Such would be the mantra of our everyday routines. Any in-game function that previously required entering a menu or taking thumbs off the joysticks would be accomplished by simple voice commands, and even the most complicated games would carry them out with elegance and accuracy.

What we got: We still can’t turn our systems on with voice controls. We understand why this is the case, but it’s still a bummer. When we wake from our cheeto-comas we don’t want to have to search around for the controller–the Xbox should turn on when we say so! And the games that do bother to include voice controls–Skyrim, Mass Effect 3–do it as a half-functional afterthought. When voice commands work, they’re great (don’t pretend you don’t love shouting “Fus Ro Dah!” when no one’s home), but when they don’t work it makes us feel like idiots shouting at a hunk of plastic. Surprisingly, it’s actually non-game apps like Netflix that have benefitted the most from Kinect’s voice recognition capability.

Virtual reality

What we expected: The plot of the forgotten .Hack games, essentially. The final barriers to full gaming immersion would have been removed, and gamers would be inserted directly into virtual worlds by way of sleek headsets or even more direct means–if not quite at the level of The Matrix (who wants a USB jack in the back of the head?), then at least through devices that tap directly into one’s senses.

What we got: Seventeen years ago, we got Nintendo’s Virtual Boy, one of the most awesome failures ever conceived. Now, there are vibrating chairs and unreleased Vitality Sensors with no realistic applications. Even the most ambitious arcade games haven’t made any real strides toward virtual reality. We expected better by now. The only thing that comes close is the Oculus Rift–the Kickstarter-funded, id-endorsed, head-encompassing display rig that looks like some kind of bulky mind-control contraption. And which, by all accounts, is awesome. Who knows? Maybe it really will happen one day.

Touch screens

What we expected: Physical interfaces would go the way of the Dodo when touch screen technology replaced keyboards and power buttons on everything from phones to fridges. Handheld games would reach new heights as portable systems from Nintendo, Sony, and even Apple eschewed the primitive A/B/L/R layout and gained–through the magic of touch screens–infinite arrays of digital buttons with unlimited potential, unprecedented customizability, and perfect accuracy.

What we got: Touch screens are how millions of people play games today, but the best examples of those controls are in titles with very simple controls. Sure, many iOS shooters play fine on an iPad, but on phones your thumbs can obscure two thirds of the screen. Nintendo proved that more complex touch-controlled DS games like Kirby: Canvas Curse and Picross 3D could be great, but have stepped back from those types of games on the 3DS. Only the larger, non-touch top screen is equipped for 3D, a clear sign the new handheld isn’t as focused on touch. It’s a shame, because touch controls have great potential, which we hope to see fulfilled on the Wii U.

Life improvement games

What we expected: In our digitally connected lives, everything would be a game. Games would teach us to cook, play the drums or do Kung-Fu; even dishwashing and homework would have point systems and leaderboards. Lacking in confidence? Try Oprah’s new therapy game. Addicted to drugs? Dr. Drew can get you clean with 12 challenging steps–across 12 engrossing levels.

What we got: Deepak Chopra’s Leela may be an interesting experiment, but let’s be honest: it’s not focusing anyone’s Chi. And while it might be fun to play, Dance Central doesn’t make players better dancers, and likewise for Guitar Hero, Cooking Mama, and Def Jam Rapstar. They’re fun, but that’s all they are. The exceptions to this may be the exercise games, and though evidence there is anecdotal, it’s not difficult to believe that constantly being mocked by your overweight Mii in Wii Fit is one hell of a motivator. Oh, and we did get pretty good at drums from all that Rock Band.

Self-aware games

What we expected: Game A.I. would be so advanced that computer-controlled enemies would be indistinguishable from human opponents. Games would anticipate players’ movements and actions, and NPCs would react with intelligence and forethought. They’d even talk back, and conversations between players and their games would evolve organically, allowing for ever-changing game worlds in which no two players’ experiences are alike.

What we got: A talking man-fish and a disillusioned balding man with a pet little boy. And we didn’t even really get that last one. Sure, there’s no denying Seaman was fun for what it was (though to this day we’re not really sure how to define that). But Peter Molyneux’s Milo demo wound up as so many others of the famed developer’s projects over the years: only a tease. The thing was never released, and so we’ll never know just how sentient that little kid really was. Now the best that can be hoped for is a Seaman remake on R4i 3ds. Fins crossed?

The future is now

Now that you realize you’re currently living in the future of gaming, how do you feel? Happy with what you’ve got, or wishing it was like you dreamed it would be? Answer in the poll below, and then feel free to explain yourself further in the comments.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Nintendo 3DS screens

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Following up on last week’s announcement, I am very pleased to finally be able to show you all some Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate screenshots!  Today we get to enjoy 3DS screens, but it’s only natural that we’ll see more from Wii U soon enough. Just sit tight and let’s absorb the awesomeness below:

By the way, the art above makes a good desktop wallpaper, doesn’t it?

EDIT: got some monster names for you; also it’s Rust, not Rusty – was too excited at the time!

Cha-Cha and the new Kayamba accompanying you on a quest

Dual Swords return, just in time to fight this all new beast, the Stygian Zinogre!

The Bow is also back – Great Baggi is not surprised though

Barroth seems to understand the return of Gun-Lances is not a joke

Swimming like MHTri – Now with more Kayamba

Gun-Lances and Plesioth meeting underwater for the first time

Sneak-peek of the new town

Switch-Axes, just as reliable as they were in MHTri

That Barroth Lance looks like a good choice against a Great Baggi

Qurupeco totally takes an arrow to the knee!

Deserts are no longer a safe area – not with the Rust Duramboros anyway!

Bottom 3DS screen totally in English, and totally customizable btw

Here’s another example of a totally different setup

Well, I hope you liked what you saw… can’t wait to show more!

Wii U Announcements Will be Overshadowed by iPhone

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012


Gamesindustry International assembled a team of analysts to discuss Nintendo’s chances and the potential success (or failure) of the upcoming Wii U launch announcement extravaganza, set for this Thursday, September 13. We’ll be covering the event via the tubes as it happens – so expect all the news about Wii U’s release date, price, launch lineup, and additional games for the holidays and beyond right here.

The analyst panel discussed whether Nintendo has energy going into the announcement event, whether consumers really understand Wii U as a product, and many other factors, but there was one central element: the fact that Apple’s holding a similar press event the day before, and that Nintendo won’t be able to sustain excitement in the shadow of the new Caricatore Da tavolo Iphone 4. Hop inside for some of the comments.

My main thought is that Nintendo has a bigger PR problem than the date of its press conference. The biggest issue Nintendo has is the lack of anticipation or confidence. They have not created enough excitement and confidence among both consumers and developers, nor has their quiet given people the sense that a delightful surprise awaits. There seems to be a cloud hanging above them of ‘concern.’ They did not do a great job after E3 of bridging toward the fall. If they want this press conference to succeed, making people believe that there will be a surprise or prrof [sic] of a big flagship title may help. Highlighting their focus on third party or any other innovations would also help.

This is an interesting point, but one I’ve discussed before. The fact of the matter is that developers are always slow to seriously adopt a new platform, and that most of the “excitement” and “confidence” that’s been measurable so far has come out of E3, hardly a reliable comparison for “consumer” acceptance. After all, while Wii raised some eyebrows in 2006 due to its unconventional controller and lack of HD output, it went on to massive success, and while 3DS was well-received at E3 2010, its actual launch was a different story.

What’s more, the situation here is hardly new for Nintendo. They went more or less silent after E3 2006, only to come back on the scene in mid-September to announce the Wii launch date and price. If there’s any big difference between the two, it’s in the marketing and the fact that we haven’t seen any of the unique offerings for 2013 and beyond yet. And I’ll agree that that’s a big deal…but it’s not the problem this analyst seems to be considering.

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It seems that Nintendo does not think of Accessori Apple as a true competitor, and they seem to be relying on the fact that their intense focus and disregard of the rest of the market will prevail again. It’s interesting Nintendo is doing their press event in New York; that feels like a statement of appealing to the mainstream press, the mass market (as opposed to Silicon Valley or the game developers). But Apple is already mainstream and doesn’t really need that, of course. It’s possible Nintendo believes reporters who cover interactive, games and tech will simply cover both events, and since they don’t seem to really think they are in the same business as Apple, they may be surprised.

There are two important things to note about these comments. The first is a matter of history. Nintendo has perfectly good reason that the mainstream tech media will cover both the Apple and the Wii U press events, because Nintendo and Apple both held press conferences during the same week in September 2006, when Nintendo pulled the lid off the Wii’s launch plans. Clearly the fact that Apple announced a new line of products at the same time didn’t really put a dent in Wii’s unprecedentedly successful launch. Of course, Apple’s portable products also weren’t really focused on their game-playing functionality at the time…but then Nintendo hardware and software have never really suffered from competition from Apple. Wii and R4 3ds couldn’t have been Nintendo’s most successful home and portable platforms ever if that was the case.

A-List Daily PR manager Meelad Sadat, however, seems to agree that the timing isn’t really a problem. He does, however, believe that Nintendo has some work to do before Wii U can gain widespread acceptance:

This might be a case of different vibes for different tribes. The iPhone launch will surely get coverage on game sites, but at the end of the day it’s a smartphone. It’ll get launch coverage and a follow up piece or two to have its hardware dissected. With the Wii U, we’re getting the first next gen console. I think with game press and for the people who religiously follow game news, they’ll get their fill of Wii U coverage. […]

As for impact, unfortunately Nintendo’s introduced a piece of hardware that’s only raised questions since it was announced. There are questions around the system’s capabilities compared to this generation, GamePad issues and how it might slow down game performance, and of course price point. The latter comes down to what it costs to take the system home with two controllers, whether that’s a GamePad and Wiimote, and a game. If that’s climbing towards $400-$500, look out. If I’m a hardcore gamer, do I spend that money or wait to see what powerhouse next-gen console Sony and Microsoft are planning? […]

Nintendo’s event needs to be a wonderfully orchestrated, entertaining affair that answers troubling questions. I think I just talked myself into catching the live stream.

I’ll agree of course that the price and whether the system will be fully functional out of the box or still standing on one leg are two of the most important questions Nintendo has to answer this fall. Of course, I think there are a few other concerns Nintendo needs to address as well. What will the online infrastructure look like? What will be available on the eShop at launch? Will that GamePad be able to play any of my old games? And what games do I have to look forward to after the initial holiday release period?

Nintendo’s E3 2012 Wii U Conference Review

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Dear Lord, we really wanted Nintendo to blow our socks clean off, to leave us panting and sated with the knowledge that all is well with Wii U, that gaming’s newest console will be a winner.

That sure didn’t happen today.

Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime’s latest attempt to explain its new system left us humming and hawing, still waiting to achieve that customary warm Nintendo bliss.


The problem is that Wii U needs to be explained in the first place.

When we saw Wii six years ago, we all became instant converts. It was so obviously a work of genius.

But when it’s time to inspect Wii U, we say, “okay, show us.”

Nintendo understands this. Again and again Fils-Aime talked about ways in which fence-sitters might benefit from further exposure to its latest creation, that asynchronous gaming really has a future.

“Together Better.” That’s the slogan. But how, exactly, Reggie?

To be fair to Nintendo, the execs made a smart move today by leaving aside the non-games entertainment apps that, we’re told, will “changes our lives.” “Today we will focus on gaming,” said Reggie. And no one in the audience was going to complain.

Katsuya Eguchi’s Nintendo Land is the place where we are supposed to discover Wii U’s charms. It’s a party compendium of Nintendo franchises that collectively demonstrate how players might enjoy adventures in which one person has the GamePad (the one with the screen) and everyone else has regular controllers.

With Luigi’s Mansion we received a clue. It was all about “hide and seek.” The GamePad guy chases everyone else. This is what Nintendo does best, playful experiences rooted in childish fun.

And so, yeah, we get it. Sorta.

This must be Nintendo’s strategy. Lacking that killer Wii blow, we receive the message in drips.

So Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition allows us to access weapons and scan for enemies and lay strategic traps, all above and beyond the regular controllers. We can scan and zoom and sort and choose things. Likewise, LEGO City Undercover looks like it has some neat tricks and good humor.

Pennino per Ipad
Pennino per Ipad€ 9,00

It’s like Reggie keeps saying. “When you play it you begin to understand the integrated second screen.”

So, look, in SiNG the second screen allows you to karaoke while facing your friends instead of the TV, and they can join in too. Well, yes, that does seem jolly. I’ll add it, like a card on a deck, to my pile of reasons to maybe buy Wii U.

Also, I can do weird contortions with Wii U Fitness (as demonstrated by a promo video featuring a douche-on-a-luge). I can solve secondary puzzles with ZombiU and, no doubt, there will be fun little tricks thrown in with Mass Effect 3, Tank-Tank-Tank, Trine 2: Director’s Cut, Aliens: Colonial Marines and all the other third party games.

There are chunkier reasons to believe in Wii U that actually don’t seem to have that much to do with the controller. A Mario game, for example. New Super Mario Bros. U looks exactly as Reggie pitched it. “Just like Mario has always been, but better.” What’s not to like?

At the beginning of this conference, Nintendo gave us a charming little video of its talismanic game designer Shigeru Miyamoto interacting with Pikmin. Miyamoto entered the stage to huge applause and cheers. (Sony’s Jack Tretton said yesterday that his company is at the epicenter of gaming. No Jack. That’s just not true.)

And Pikmin 3 looks gorgeous and fun. The graphical power of Wii U and the power of Nintendo franchises make this a great game and thus, this machine a good bet. Nintendo doesn’t need loads of games to convince us. it just needs a few more like this.

So there was something missing from this conference. No, wait, there were lots of things missing–all those big Wii U iterations of big Nintendo franchises.

Where’s Metroid? Where’s Star Fox? Where’s Smash Bros? Where’s Kirby? Where’s Pokemon?

What games will be available when Wii U launches? We’ve all given Nintendo a pass fornot telling us when and how much the machine will cost, but we’re only a few months from launch.

MiiVerse is neat, but social speech bubbles and emoticons just aren’t enough. We need more.

Nintendo still has much work to do to convince us that Wii U is more Wii than GameCube. The firm’s amazing record with Wii and DS and its improving work with 3DS means we are obliged to lace some faith and trust in Nintendo’s phenomenally smart boss Satoru Iwata, but this conference didn’t really do much to increase that faith.

On Sunday, Nintendo already tried to explain the second screen. Straight after today’s event, the company went big on social media. There’s a developers roundtable tonight. there’ll be more announcements in the future.

Nintendo still has time to get more and more of us behind its new launch. But today? Today felt like a missed opportunity.

Read More

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Cool quotes from the biggest personalities at E3 2012

Nintendo Shows Off Wii U Pro Controller

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

E3 2012:Nintendo’s tablet-like GamePad isn’t the only new controller Wii U supports…

Nintendo revealed during today’s Nintendo Direct conference that Wii U will support a new controller separate from the Wii U GamePad. This new controller, which you can see below, is more traditional in appearance and shape than the tablet-like GamePad.

As you can see, the Pro Controller appears to feature all of the same buttons as the GamePad – including two analog sticks above the face buttons – just minus the touchscreen.

See also

Nintendo Wii U Comes in Black too at E3 2012

Nintendo Details Wii U Gaming Console

Making the next Super Smash Bros on Nintendo 3DS and Wii U

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The Super Smash Bros. games are a valuable series within the fighting genre. Now, I know what some of you are thinking: “Is Super Smash Bros. really a fighting game?” I don’t know. Answering that question means defining, in certain terms, what a fighting game is. That’s a topic I could dedicate a whole article, so for the sake of argument let’s say they are, indeed, fighting games. Stop rolling your eyes. What’s important is that these games help widen the scope of the fighting genre by attracting consumers who would not otherwise try a fighting game. Maybe some of those consumers go on to try other fighting games, and thus the genre grows. It’s a good thing.

On the off chance there is some new Super Smash Bros. news at this year’s E3, I would like to lay down my hopes and fears for SSB4. And I’m not just talking about which new characters I want to see!

NIXING TRIPPING In the next Super Smash Bros., there are several fixes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl that need to happen. Chief among these is nixing tripping. In Brawl, tripping was a mechanic designed to help bridge the skill gap between players by causing fighters to randomly slip and fall. I can see the intention, but in practice, tripping was confusing for newer players (“Why did my guy stop moving?”) and frustrating for veterans (“I hate this game”). No one likes to have control wrested away from them arbitrarily, especially in the heat of battle.

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R4I 1.4.4€ 24,99

FEWER SMASH BALLS Reducing smash ball frequency is another. I like the idea of this item: break it and unleash a devastating attack on the other players. This adds an extra element of tension to battle (players get excited when a smash ball appears) and more complexity to the mechanics without making the characters more complicated. Simplicity of control is key to this series’ success. However, even on the low items setting, smash balls appeared too often. They should be a rare occurrence that highlights every third or fourth fight. Their overabundance distracts from the fight itself and places your attention solely on controlling these items.

CHARACTER BALANCE Then there are the characters themselves. The roster in Brawl was horrifically unbalanced, with Meta Knight standing tall above the rest. Balance issues are not uncommon in fighting games. However, in any other series, this problem would have been corrected through a simple update (or with the release of a new game). With Brawl, fans were left out in the cold. Thankfully, the community stepped up and released some excellent patches that don’t even require a modified console. Balanced Brawl was the one I used, which balanced out the cast without changing any of Brawl’s fundamentals (speed, hit boxes, and so on).

SMOOTH ONLINE Finally, the next Super Smash Bros. desperately needs a modern online mode. For me, playing Brawl online basically never happened because it was such a hassle. Finding a game online took forever, and when I finally got into a game it ran like a slideshow. Friend codes were an unnecessary burden for connecting with others, and hampered any replay or level sharing as well. Plus, if I was playing online, that meant I wasn’t using the Balanced Brawl patch–unless I knew someone else using it. A healthy online mode adds longevity, builds community, and can even be a teaching tool for players. Hopefully the Wii U’s hardware will not hamstring this upcoming fighter.

DON’T SPLIT THE GAME IN TWO In an early Iwata Asks column, as reported by Andriasang, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata discussed plans for the next Super Smash Bros. with lead developer Masahiro Sakurai. Two notes that stood out to me from the article were: “Iwata summed the basic idea nicely: players would spend time on the 3DS version, building up their character and collecting stuff, then show off their skills on the Wii U version” and “While it is important to have both versions of the game be enjoyable on their own, Sakurai feels that connectivity between the two versions will make the experience even more enjoyable.”

For me, it sounds like the R4i 3DS version will focus on single-player through individual character progression and customization. Once you feel your character is ready, you can transfer your character to the Wii U and play against your friends in multiplayer. Hopefully, this doesn’t mean splitting an otherwise complete game between two consoles, thus requiring a $100 purchase to get the full experience. I can see this very easily slipping into a Pokemon Stadium situation, where the bulk of the game is played through the handheld, and the console game is regulated to competitive modes.

R4 Nintendo DS
R4€ 14,49

This issue would be compounded if using customized characters was mandatory, and players who owned the 3DS version thus had an advantage over console-only players. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution: make it optional. Being able to tweak how your character plays is not inherently a bad thing, but it shouldn’t be a requirement. As we’ve seen with Street Fighter X Tekken, if the community does not like your customization options, they will find a way to negate them. The choice is whether you support the community or force them disable it manually (and resent you).

A WIRED CONTROLLER From a hardware perspective, I have no doubt that the Wii U version of the next Super Smash Bros. will include a touch-control option for the touch pad similar to what will be on the 3DS. It will be novel, but it will not usurp standard controls as the preferred method of play–so long as the Wii U is restricted to one touch pad at a time. And since the Wii U will (sadly) no longer support GameCube controllers, it would be nice if Nintendo packaged a wired controller of similar design with the game, a la the Wii Wheel included with Mario Kart Wii.

Sure, the classic controller is nice, but its wireless design makes it impractical in a tournament setting, and many players who cut their teeth on Melee feel at home with the GameCube controller’s design. The additional controller would be a sign of good will toward the competitive Smash community, which has managed to thrive without much support from Nintendo thus far.

I have high hopes for the next Super Smash Bros. With Melee, the game skewed more toward the competitive player, while Brawl overcompensated in an effort to be more widely accessible. After covering both ends of the spectrum, the developers should be primed to hit that sweet spot between complexity and accessibility. As Gonzalo ZeRo of the Smash Boards puts it: “You know what I would really like to see, a game that can be enjoyed [by] every kind of gamer: from the casual, to the hardcore, to the professional…So that everyone can play the game in ANY way and still enjoy it…This would help the Smash community to grow and be a better community overall across the world!”

Nintendo Wii News – Wii U Price Rumor

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Apparently a new Wii U price rumor has surfaced on the internet during the past days. And some considered this rumor to be the actual fact as it comes from a Japanese website.  But should this aspect count. Well, we do not consider it so, because to consider a rumor as being truthful just because of the nationality of the site is highly superficial.

The New Wii U Price Rumor Might Be

Well, apparently the new rumor on the internet is that the new Wii U gaming console will be priced at $299 in the US, 299 Euro in Europe and 20000 Yen in Japan. The previous rumor regarding the new gaming console price stated that the release price for the US will be $250 for the minimal version and up to $299 for the more complex one.

But can this rumor considered as being truthful. Well, we certainly do not consider this so, as there are numerous facts which come to discharge the information regarding starting price for the new Wii U console starting around $300.

Nintendo 3d console
Nintendo 3donly € 159,00

First of all, currently the Wii gaming console has begun to hover around the $200 price margin on Amazon.  The new Wii U console will surely be placed around the same price margin to attract the consumers which are already accustomed with the Wii gaming console as well as new consumers. Surely, at launch the price will be higher, but even so, a difference of $100 is a bit much and will surely lead to a negative consumer response.

Second, the current gaming market has begun to lower prices in order to stimulate consumers and counterattack the global economic crisis. The overall trend is to lower prices while improving technological capabilities.  The Wii U console will surely come with numerous technological improvements. It is well known that we will see HD features which will allow HD gaming with current HDTVs, 360 degrees visibility in gaming as well as numerous gaming command possibilities such as tactile commands. But, this cannot justify the new rumored price, especially since the new releases hover around the $250 price margin.


And last, but not least, the predicted Wii U release Japan price is 20000 Yen which is roughly the equivalent of $250. It is highly improbable that the Nintendo Company will price the new Wii gaming console higher in the US than in Japan since the Japan economy is stronger and more equilibrate than that of the US.

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Video Games News – What 2012 Holds for Nintendo, Sony and More

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012
Nintendo worldwide president Satoru Iwata pledged to create ‘deeper game experiences’ at the company’s E3 presentation. The struggle between traditional games and 99-cent mobile games will be a key battle of 2012

The next generation of videogames is finally coming, although it isn’t arriving all at once. Instead of mounting a shock-and-awe campaign, next-gen gaming is sneaking up on us. 2012 is likely to see an industry still taking baby steps forward.

With last year’s weaker-than-expected launch of Nintendo 3DS Console and the quick drop-off in sales of PlayStation Vita in Japan, dedicated portable game systems are fighting an uphill battle, though not necessarily an unwinnable one. Nintendo is releasing Wii U this year, which will be the first of the next generation of home consoles — but from all appearances it will only draw up to the Xbox 360 pro and PlayStation 3 break in terms of processing power, not surpass them significantly.

So 2012 may not be a transformative year, just another step down the road that the gaming industry has already set itself on. Here’s where the industry stands, as I see it, at the dawn of 2012 and where it’s likely to go over the next year.

Portable Gaming: Nintendo vs. Sony vs. Everyone

As the leading maker of traditional game hardware, Nintendo has found itself under the most pressure to compete against … well, whatever it is Nintendo believes itself to be competing against. It continues to insist that it is not actually in competition with mobile games and that the rise of 99-cent iPhone games is not really impacting its portable-game business.

Well, something impacted it. Nintendo made no bones about the fact that sales of Nintendo R4i 3DS were more sluggish than it expected, which led to a massive price drop only a few months after launch. That, coupled with the one-two punch of Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart, stimulated sales quite a bit over the holidays. It also put Nintendo on track to what would be its first-ever annual loss.

Was the $250 price tag the only thing holding 3DS back, or were its holiday sales just given a temporary boost by the more attractive price and major titles? That’s what we’ll find out in 2012. Look for Nintendo to continually improve its downloadable games and other connected services, especially as packaged retail games are likely to remain slow to arrive on shelves. In Japan, Nintendo has dropped demo versions of retail games onto the eShop, big titles like Resident Evil: Revelations and Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.

Sony will unleash the PlayStation Vita in the U.S. and Europe this February. Sales of the machine in Japan have dropped off significantly since it launched in December.

Speaking of downloadable games, PlayStation Vita is out in Japan, and I’ve been playing with my launch-day unit. I purchased one cartridge game (Uncharted) but don’t see why I’d ever want to do that again. Having to carry around a case full of games is old and busted, and having all of your games saved to a memory card is the new hotness. So the fact that every PlayStation PS3 game will be available via the digital store is music to my ears.

Here’s the potential flipside of that. By splitting up retail games (about $40 each) and downloadable ones (about $3-8 each), Nintendo has established a system in which downloadable games are sold at something of an impulse-buy price point. Not as cheap as 99-cent iPhone games, but still.

Sony’s Vita game library, currently, is mostly filled with downloadable games that cost upwards of $40, about the same as the retail Cartridge Heaters. That is very much not an impulse-buy price. I’m curious as to how Vita’s downloadable game library will change and grow over the next year: Will there be a race to the bottom, price-wise, as we saw on the App Store?

I’ll write more about Vita later, but the thesis of any such piece will likely be something to the effect of: Vita is a really neat portable game platform, but who needs it? It was extremely forward-thinking of Sony to put a Blu-ray player into every PlayStation 3, which saved it from a fate worse than the bad fate it ended up with. But Vita doesn’t really have anything similar: It’s just a game machine, and right now it doesn’t exactly have a killer app on the level of Nintendo’s pair of Mario games. PSP never found one after 5 years on sale. Can Vita? And if 3DS tanked at $250, why wouldn’t Vita? The Kindle Fire at $200 is a serious competitor.

Meanwhile, Angry Birds sold 6.5 million copies on Christmas Day alone. There’s no reason to believe that the games market on iOS, Android and other such devices won’t continue to explode in 2012. One of the big questions is, will the attractiveness and depth of the games on offer continue to entice more and more hard-core gamers away from spending money on 3DS and Vita software (if not even home consoles, too)?

Nintendo announced its Wii U console, with a tablet-like controller, at E3 in 2011. It will release the machine this year.
Photo: Jon Snyder/

Home Gaming: Wii U vs. No One

“I think there’s zero chance of a tease from Sony for PlayStation 4 and only a 20 percent chance from Microsoft that they’ll tease the next Xbox,” top gaming analyst Michael Pachter told Forbes recently. “Neither console is launching in 2013, so there’s no reason to tease them in 2012.”

If Pachter is to be believed, Microsoft and Sony are essentially poised to cede the next-generation console war to Nintendo for at least two Christmases. Of course, this is only the case if you think Wii U is a next-generation console, which is still something of an open question at this point. What third party software makers said at E3 last year was that by and large they would port their existing Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games to the Wii U. In that sense, this machine is the “Wii HD” that Pachter predicted for years (but that never really materialized, at least in the sense of a Wii whose only update was high-resolution graphics).

But Wii U is really about the tablet controller, which introduces a new way of playing games in the home without throwing out the old ways. This year’s E3 is when Nintendo has to show that the controller was a good idea, by way of showing exciting software and not proof-of-concept tech demos. With a year to come up with fancy new ideas, software makers had better deliver — Nintendo especially.

If Nintendo has indeed been properly chastened for its heretofore lackadaisical approach to digital content, perhaps Wii U will benefit from this as well. Starting a new hardware platform from scratch, rather than upgrading an existing one with new firmware, means that Nintendo has the opportunity to introduce novel ways of buying and selling games online. There was a rumor of highly dubious origin a while back that Electronic Arts would put its Origin service on Wii U. This was backed up by the fact that EA CEO John Riccitiello showed up at E3 and talked about how much he liked Nintendo’s plan for an “open” online architecture. So there is a good reason to believe this may be happening.

Similarly, I believe whatever Microsoft and Sony come up with next will be driven by services, not processing power. Watch for Microsoft to continue to come up with new content deals and apps for the Xbox 360. Not for gaming, of course, heaven forbid! For television, and movies, and music and social networking. I would not be surprised if Microsoft even introduced another version of the Xbox hardware that was marketed towards the sort of person who would otherwise buy a Roku box.

PlayStation 3 Break PS3only € 29,99

Kinect has helped 360 run roughshod in the sales charts over PlayStation 3, and in bringing the camera controller to Windows Microsoft is banking on it as being something bigger than just a gaming accessory with a short shelf life. But it definitely could use some better games, so I expect to see higher-quality Kinect software again being a focus of Microsoft’s publicity efforts in 2012.

And for those of us poor suckers who bought an Xbox to play regular ol’ videogames? We’ll survive on whatever scraps we’re thrown.

PlayStation 3 will play second fiddle this year, with Sony having to concentrate its efforts on launching Vita. What the old Wii console will be playing this year would not even be second fiddle. Third oboe? Fifth triangle? At least Nintendo listened to fans’ demands and put the role-playing game Xenoblade Chronicles on the schedule. Otherwise, I’m not sure what we’ll really be doing with our Wiis anymore. Any major Nintendo software will be on Wii U, and if there’s anything in the hopper that isn’t, it’ll be moved there (cf. Super Paper Mario, announced in 2006 as a GameCube swan song but shifted to Wii).

Sales of boxed PC games are far below those of their console counterparts, but that doesn’t much matter these days when so many sales take place through digital delivery services like Steam. The anything-goes uncontrolled nature of the PC software market has let sellers experiment with putting games on sale, giving games away for a limited time, etc. The freedom that comes with essentially being able to sell games yourself without having to go through several middlemen will continue to attract developers and publishers to PC, and console makers will have to adapt to survive.

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