Ok, I’ve got that out of my system now. But come on, really? You’d have thought the big N would have learned their lesson with naming by now…
Anyway, I thought that now E3 is over, I’d start arranging my rambling and dangerous thoughts into something vaguely coherent. Today I’m exploring my thoughts on the newly announced Nintendo Wii-U; some Ninty fanboys may want to look away now…
It would be daft to start anywhere other than the elephant in the room; that controller. It’s like the bastard offspring of a DS and an iPad, and frankly doesn’t live up to the lofty heights of either parent. It looks like a FisherPrice toy, and enjoys something of an identity crisis as I can see. Is it a controller? Is it a handheld? Is it a tablet? I’d put my money on Nintendo trying to use it as all three, and coming up short.
To be fair to it, it’s certainly innovative. The idea of switching between handheld and console is certainly an interesting one, and used innovatively could be a fantastic step forward for the industry. However, I have concerns. It has been announced that so far there only plans for one of these controllers to be used with a console at a time; other players will be forced onto wiimotes/classic controllers. Not so impressive.
Also, I can see Sony sneaking up and stealing Nintendo’s thunder with the Vita. It’s close to PS3 spec, and will inevitably interact with the console in the future – Naughty Dog have already stated that the Uncharted game for Vita will interact with Uncharted 3 on PS3. Sony has a track record here, too; the remote play function of the PSP is not well known, but it was fantastically implemented. In trying to be too clever, Nintendo could be late to their own party.
So far we know that the Wii-U will handle up to 1080p graphics, but we so far have no details on actual spec. Several third party developers have said that their cross-platform games will appear on the Wii-U, but that raises some questions for me. If the Wii-U is (as rumoured) of superior spec to even the PS3, will the ports take advantage of this, or be straight ports from the other consoles, thus rendering the extra spec pointless? Or will they be optimised, but inevitably take longer to arrive, thus leaving the Wii-U at a time lag disadvantage?
As with the previous couple of generations, the Wii-U will live or die on its first party exclusives. Rabid fanboys will eat up the inevitable HD iterations of Zelda, Mario and the like, but will that be enough to sway other gamers that have already been spoiled by the HD class of Xbox360 and PS3? Nintendo’s leap into HD isn’t nearly as jaw dropping as Microsoft’s and Sony’s, simply because it is already the norm.
A big one, this. How much will the controller drive up the price of the system? Are Nintendo going to have to abandon (to an extend) the ‘casual’ market that made the Wii so successful? Will the hardware and more ‘serious’ games appeal to a generation of gamers that’s already shelled out for one or both of the established HD giants enough to part with yet more cash? Ninty have so far proved recession proof by driving into a new market, but trying to step back into an already (over?)saturated marketplace in challenging economic conditions will certainly represent a big gamble. Indeed, Iwata himself has said that this new console ‘won’t be cheap‘.
Until more is announced about the Wii-U, I’m certainly not leaping on the ‘day one purchase’ bandwagon. Rabid Nintendo fanboys won’t care a jot about anything I’ve just said; they’ll just be salivating at yet another facsimile Zelda adventure made shinier with HD graphics. But what about everyone else? The floating gamer that just likes to bust out Wii-Sports or Rock Band every now and then?
Let me know your thoughts on the new console. It would be interesting to see what effect the announcement has really had.