Leigh Harris discusses the top five things Nintendo's next home console has going for it without dropping a single "U" related joke.
Variety is the spice of life
What is it that gives developers inspiration? What drives them to create things for your console? While Microsoft has said the best Kinect innovations are going to come from someone other than Microsoft, Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime has touted the sheer number of inputs available for the Wii U as being key to its success.
With the DS, the simple splitting of screens gave each a different function. Developers began to use the stylus appropriately for one screen rather than the other, and it saw a boost in the variety of games to hit that platform, bringing in all new kinds of puzzlers and strategy games the handheld would never have seen with only the one screen.
This time around, the Wii U is giving us the Wiimote with its d-pad and rear trigger, nunchuck with its thumbstick, the more traditional next-gen controller styling of the Wii U, the independent screen it houses, and most importantly the ability for each of these things to talk to one another. If the sheer number of possible control combinations doesn’t get developers’ minds racing, what will?
It sure is an easy one to harp on about, but there’s no overstating the removal of that huge barrier to entry that is the obsolescence of your existing toys. It’s bad enough with a new console that your old one will no longer matter, but your controllers and games as well? Now that’s asking for an arm and a leg.
The Wii U isn’t being given a new name by design. It’s very much a good old-fashioned household Wii, but with a little bit extra. Sure, your old Wii console is going to be redundant, but no one paid more than $400 for one of those things, which, after 5 solid years of gaming, shouldn’t matter that much.
So if you can sacrifice the part of your console which, let’s face it, is the most boring part (all it does is sit there under the TV), you get to keep playing with your controllers and games, but now with added new potentialities. Yummy.
This is, of course, assuming Nintendo don’t do anything foolish on that count and prevent backwards compatibility from happening. But they wouldn’t do that to us? Would they, Nintendo?
Disgruntled gamers plus entitlement equals a giant Wii U-shaped hole in the market
Ubisoft came out the other day and said they felt they were being actively punished by the lack of a new console generation. This year’s E3 saw more vitriol and backlash than ever before due to the perceived ‘sameyness’ of the show and the titles on display.
The Wii U is entering into an environment which is just crying out for change, and what could possibly offer gamers more change right now than an entirely new console with a completely unique suite of control mechanisms? Taking even a passing glance at Project P-100 should tell you that the dull brown ultraviolence norm is far from omnipresent.
ZombiU did something I’ve never seen a game do before – it deliberately distracted a player and made them look somewhere other than the core screen for a moment in order to properly catch them unaware with a healthy dose of unwanted zombie. It went further than this, playing with the idea that your reliable mini-map on the Wii U controller wasn’t so reliable, reducing it to static when it felt like it was time to amp up the fear and force you to focus intently on the myopic viewpoint of the central screen.
Nothing heightened the fear more than having one of your most useful devices for detecting your enemies temporarily removed.
Misdirection and psychological puppetry go hand in hand. For the first time in gaming history, gamers aren’t necessarily looking at the screen at all times – the potential for mischief here is tantalising.
One less barrier to entry
Then there’s the obvious one which isn’t really news because we all understand it, but is just enough of a selling point to matter. At least now. Once the Wii U comes out, however, there will be a big change in the wind.
I’m talking about the fact that the new controller mimicking so closely the existing ones for this generation, blended with hardware that can keep up with (and indeed make shine) the latest and greatest games, will allow us to play Tomb Raider, Splinter Cell or any other major title on our shiny new toy.
The games aren’t going to be amazingly different on the Wii U perhaps, but if it can run them, and if it’s got even a touch more going on under the hood than its counterparts, and it’s shiny (so shiny) and new and there already, why wouldn’t you buy your latest favourite title on it? Every cross-platform release will start swaying significantly in the direction of Nintendo.
Not a vital component, but in terms of the thing being successful, it’s practically a gimme.
By Leigh Harris - Bio