The most important date in the gaming industry’s calendar took place last Wednesday in Los Angeles – E3. This massive trade fair and press event takes place annually in California, bringing all major gaming developers together under one roof to showcase their wares. At last year’s E3, Nintendo unveiled its eagerly awaited Wii U – the next generation of the famous Wii gaming console. Last week, it was time for E3 2012, where a more mature, refined product was on display.
The original Wii was released in November 2006 and after almost seven years, it’s definitely time for an upgrade. The new manner of interaction between the gamer and the system proved highly innovative and appealed to a broad demographic. After the Wii arrived, gaming wasn’t just the realm of kids and nerds. Everybody wanted to experiment with the Wii – it was simple, fun and even encouraged a certain amount of exercise. The Wii was sometimes called a ‘casual’ console and with the Wii U, Nintendo are hoping to lure avid gamers back into frame.
The success of the original Wii means that there is a huge amount of expectation surrounding its successor. Feedback from E3 was positive, even if journalists and gamers were slightly perplexed by the unusual new controller. It looks similar to a tablet pc, complete with a touchscreen, two analogue sticks, speakers, a front facing camera and the usual buttons found on previous Nintendo consoles. There will also be a standard controller minus the touchscreen called the Wii U Pro Controller, something which might tempt those hardcore gamers to splash out on the new system. The Wii Remote, Wii Nunchuk and Wii Balance Board will also be compatible with the Wii U, along with games designed for the original Wii console.
This results in asymmetric gameplay where players can carry out different tasks within the game world, depending on which controller they choose. A dedicated social network called Miiverse will also be established, where players will be able to communicate with friends through the touchscreen while gaming.
The real test of any console, of course, is the gaming experience, and feedback from E3 was relatively positive, with some minor frustration. This stemmed from some users working together with different devices, finding the experience somewhat difficult, complicated and uncoordinated. This may well be down to inexperience and lack of practice. Other gamers found the experience addictive and refreshing, either cooperatively or with the single player mode. Most of them had the simple message: ‘You can’t understand this device until you get your hands on it’.
That surely has to be expected when a handheld gaming device is crossbred with a console. In general, the gamers at E3 were impressed with this ‘Wii-velution’. Nintendo are planning to release a broad range of gaming titles, ranging from the classic Mario series, to Pikmin 3 for kids, to violent adult titles like Mass Effect 3. The company are hoping to keep that broad demographic while tempting the hard core community away from the Playstation 3 and Xbox. Will Nintendo’s new console be as successful as the original Wii? It does build on the innovation of the previous device and the touchscreen gamepad adds a new, exciting level of ingenuity. Most people at E3 gave the Wii U a solid thumbs up and all going well, it will be on sale in time for Christmas.
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