Nintendo's most recent systems, particularly from DS onwards, have succeeded on the strength of unique selling points rather than raw power, even if some label these as "gimmicks". DS introduced dual screens and stylus-based touch controls, 3DS was initially marketed on its glasses-free 3D screen, and for Wii U it's all about the GamePad. The system has HD and a number of other features lacking on Wii, but many will be attracted to it, or otherwise, due to its GamePad controller.
We've written plenty about how it's going to be used and the potential it has, but one concern is over latency, which is the delay between the picture on the TV being accurately reflected on the GamePad's own screen. With the GamePad essentially streaming content from the console through a wireless connection, doubts remain for those that wonder whether delays in communication between console and controller will affect the gaming experience. The fact that GamePad units are always tethered to an invisible source at expo demo booths and press events, probably for security reasons, does little to dispel concerns.
Stepping forward into the breach to reassure gamers is Ubisoft's Michel Ancel, currently involved in bringing Rayman Legends to the system. In an interview with Nintendo Power he reiterates that developers are able to work on innovative features because the technology in the controller is solid, suggesting it's more advanced than many will expect.
I think this is where Nintendo is really out in front of things. The technology inside the controller is quite a bit more advanced than what people might think. It's really responsive. The response time is crazy, in fact, and I think the competitors will need some time to [get their solutions] this responsive.
It's crazy because the game is running in full HD [on the television], we are streaming another picture on the GamePad screen, and it's still 60 frames per second. And the latency on the controller is just 1/60 of a second, so it's one frame late. It's crazy, it's so fast. It's almost instant. That's why it responds so well. So it can be used as a real game-design thing.
While streaming from TVs to additional screens is nothing new, a delay of just one frame is an exceptional achievement if it bears out in the final manufactured products. As a company not always associated with cutting-edge technology, Ancel's words that rivals will need time to match the GamePad's performance will no doubt give encouragement to Nintendo.
With news that you won't be able to buy an extra Wii U GamePad at launch, and the Japanese retail price of 13,400 Yen converting to over £100, these comments perhaps help to explain the potentially high price when extra controllers become available in stores, and why more manufacturing time is needed to boost stock. What do you think of Ancel's comments? Are you excited about the strength of the technology and how it can be used in games, or are you more worried about the price if you decide to buy a second GamePad next year? Let us know in the comments below.