Nintendo hasn't always enjoyed the most success with its console web browsers, often due to modest specifications or a lack of system memory. Nintendo's now released a new Iwata Asks transcript where the team discuss the development of the Wii U Browser, and why it'll be a pleasant surprise for gamers.
Part of the conversation revolved around implementing a request from Shigeru Miyamoto, namely using the GamePad screen to view enlarged text from the TV. Meeting that challenge meant imposing some limitations, such as setting the browser so that, apart from adjusting zoom, scrolling was limited to vertical movement only. That change, however, brought the gyroscope into play.
Tsuda: Once we set it to vertical scrolling, there was a dramatic improvement in functionality, and we created the gyro scroll mode, which allows you to scroll by pointing the Wii U GamePad up or down. I think the ability to not just use a touch screen, but to use the actual console for a simpler experience is very suited to the Wii U, and it turned out quite well.
Iwata: If you can only use the touch screen, you have to keep moving your fingers, but in taking that step away and just tilting the Wii U GamePad, it's much more direct. I like that.
Tsuda: That part was changed several times during development.
Iwata: When it comes to things like that, there are a lot of advantages with using Wii U as a browser.
Tsuda: That's true. There's a screen you can manipulate in your hands, and a screen made just for viewing things that's set a bit farther away from you, and I think the compatibility is a perfect match.
To round out the control options, it was also explained that conventional gaming controls can also be used to navigate the browser.
Iwata: What functions have you assigned to the buttons like the +Control Pad?
Tsuda: It's made so you can navigate it as if it was a video game. The +Control Pad toggles the focus, the L and R Sticks will adjust the zoom on the entire website, and the A Button is the confirm button.
Of all the built-in applications, I think the Internet Browser is the only one with this much buttons that can be used with it. Like pressing the L Stick will hide the tool bar, which will give more room to display the website.
Finally, part of the user account system on Wii U will be to store individual browser histories and favourites, but the Mii character will also make a fun appearance within the app itself.
Iwata: Wii U supports multiple user accounts, so it displays the Mii of the current user, right?
Tsuda: Right. We also made it so that the Mii would represent the user's feelings, like when a website would take a while to load the Mii would nod its head, and if it takes a really long time to load it would fall asleep! The Mii would sometimes also tell you about some hidden features. And, if you take a closer look at the Mii, you can tell that it's holding a book. By touching the Mii, the bookmark will open. The bookmark is designed like an actual book, so I'd like people to keep a collection of their favourite websites.
We suggest that you read the full Iwata Asks if you want to know more. The Wii U Browser sounds full of promise, and could be ideal for looking up tips when playing a game, for example. Will it run smoothly and out-perform its predecessors? There's not long until we find out.