Nintendo Direct E3 2012 – What's New With Wii U

With E3 set to officially begin tomorrow (at the ungodly hour of 2AM AEST), it was good to see Nintendo get the jump on everyone by holding its whenever the hell they feel like it livestream show “Nintendo Direct”. This time, the half hour stream was dedicated to showing off the Wii U, and some of the changes/updates Nintendo have made since we last saw it, and boy, did they make some rather interesting changes and additions. 

First and foremost, let’s talk about the controller. Now officially dubbed the “Wii U Gamepad”, the device hasn’t changed too much visually from when we saw it at last years E3. There’s been some changes in the button/stick placement, as well as some smaller ergonomic changes, but  the two things that stand out the most are the weird marking on the bottom left of the Gamepad, as well as a additional “TV”  control button in the lower right. The marking on the bottom left is the devices near field communication reader/writer, which will no doubt be used to all hell to provide extra content to your game. The TV button is just that – it allows you to control your TV, as well as look up local TV guides on the Wii U Gamepad.

In addition, they showed off another controller – designed partly for multiplatform games, but also for games that may demaned something even more comfortable. They call this the Wii U Pro Controller, which as you’ll see, should be a very familiar layout and design to those used to playing with a Classic Control Pro or most non-Nintendo consoles. So basically, developers kinda really don’t have much of an excuse to half arse the motion controls or not port their games over – the WiiU can basically do everything. Though it also appears that multiple WiiU Gamepads will be supported on the one device, which opens up some interesting possibilities.

But by far the most interesting thing that was announced was Mii Universe, or MiiVerse, for short. At its most simplest, MiiVerse is a Nintendo social network, allowing you to post messages, share screencaptures, see friends activities, in addition to operating the WiiU! You don’t ever have to leave a game to post a message, you can do it directly from the GamePad, as well as take video calls with people on your friendslist. Where it gets even crazier is that because MiiVerse is browser based, you’ll be able to access it from a number of devices, from smartphones to computers to tablets, the 3DS and more. Though sadly, that functionality won’t be too ready at launch – at the start, it’ll just be smartphones.

But Nintendo is taking a big gamble on MiiVerse, even confirming that it’ll be adding similar functionality to the 3DS. Which would be fantastic to easily take screenshots and send them to my WiiU owning friends or share them easily. But otherwise, not too shabby for a 30 minute presentation (which you’ll be able to watch below, in fully!). With Nintendo’s actual E3 show confirmed to be solely about Wii U, it’ll be interesting to see just what else they have left to show.