On Thursday the Nintendo Life team watched the various broadcasts and events held by Nintendo to unveil Wii U launch details. After soaking in all that was said and the news that's come out since, a couple of our editors decided to provide some brief thoughts of their own on what Nintendo did right, as well as areas that still need clarification. Assistant editor Mike Mason and features editor Tom Whitehead give their views.
This was the Wii U blow out that many people, myself included, expected at E3. The line-up is looking good, with a fair amount aimed at each target audience within the launch window, and features such as Nintendo TVii should give Nintendo a decent run at the living room if it works as advertised. And yet we still don't actually know everything: we haven't seen the operating system in full; we don't know how the online works. Why does the OS (operating system) use up an entire gigabyte of RAM by itself – is it all video chat and Miiverse? There are still Nintendo Directs to look forward to before launch day, undoubtedly.
The price has divided some, but I think it's landed at about the expected level. This is a totally new console that uses reasonably recent technology and includes a feature-packed – and expensive looking – controller in the GamePad. The decision to launch with different packages is sensible, though I am disappointed that I won't be able to get a white Wii U with 32GB of storage; a black GamePad will probably be a fingerprint magnet! Working with Ubisoft for a ZombiU package in particular is very smart and represents just how much Nintendo is willing to work with third party publishers this time around.
One of the most important announcements to come out of the news carnival was that of Bayonetta 2 coming as an exclusive Wii U title. A game such as this might not be a system seller that's going to sell millions of consoles by itself, but by snatching it up Nintendo has gone a fair way to cementing its intent to appeal to everybody with the system. The first Bayonetta was a critically well-loved 'hardcore' action game – the sequel is exactly the kind of game that Nintendo really needed to start convincing people that it can serve the entire market and is a great indication for Wii U's future.
I focused on the EU press conference for very selfish reasons, I wanted to know when I could get a Wii U. My gut instinct when it finished was that I was quite pleased with what I saw, and definitely had a buzz of anticipation for 30th November — as well as a hint of jealousy towards our North American friends. The only criticisms I have of Mr Shibata's presentation are that it wasn't particularly fun to watch — apart from an intro sequence with Satoru Iwata — and that it struggled to communicate that Wii U is more than a Wii on steroids with a different controller. There was no equivalent to TVii, and not enough emphasis, in my opinion, of just how different gameplay can be with the GamePad; more footage of people playing games was required, rather than trailers.
As I've said though, overall I was excited at the end. I agree with Mike that Bayonetta 2 is a big announcement, though for all we know it could be a long time before it's released. It sets the tone that Nintendo is ready to invest and publish games directly targeted at the Xbox 360 and PS3 crowd, as well as Wii gamers that have missed out on so many similar titles in recent years, of course. The other announcement that really pushed my buttons was Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate: it was fantastic to see that cross-play with 3DS will be possible, and that's an important development. I adored Monster Hunter Tri on Wii, so March 2013 simply can't come soon enough.
Like Mike, I think Nintendo needs to tell us so much more, especially in Europe. While everything shown was probably ideal for hyping up enthusiastic gamers, the presentation didn't do enough to grab normal consumers. I think the prices and bundle options are perfectly suitable for the system, but that's irrelevant to many against the competition of cut-price Xbox 360 and PS3 models, as well as the range of inexpensive tablet devices to attract fans of mobile games with limited cash. Some will be drawn into a Christmas purchase by the games on offer, and New Super Mario Bros. U and Nintendo Land are excellent for attracting a wide range of buyers early on; but the system must do more to grab attention. We know it does more, but Nintendo must get the message out: tell us about Miiverse, the operating system, built-in or purchasable apps and so on. It has to be made clear that it's not just a HD gaming system with a cool second screen controller, but something that can make the living room more fun in other ways; Nintendo must scream it from the rooftops.
But of course, there's time for that. As a starting point it was solid and got the job done. Oh, and as a tip, if you plan on buying plenty of HD download titles from the eShop get yourself a USB hard drive, because even 32GB could fill up pretty quickly.
Those are a couple of views from the Nintendo Life team, but what about you? We'd love to read your thoughts on the Nintendo Wii U preview events in the comments below.