Nintendo of Japan decided that waiting for their June 5th E3 press conference just would not do for them to show off their upcoming new home console, the Nintendo Wii-U. Read on to find out specifics for their controller and its new features.
First off, Wii-U's tablet controller has officially been renamed the "Wii U Game Pad" after the name that was given for the original NES/Famicom Game Pad back in the 1980's. They feel this harkens back to the original NES that many people still remember to this day.
Next is the movement and changes that were made to the button and analog placements on the Wii U Game Pad. The analog sticks have been moved more the outside while the d-pad and button were bumped in just a bit to place them closer to the touch screen. These changes along with the improvements to the grip underneath the controller seem to lead to a more comfortable grip for the larger than usual controller. This is my speculation though as I have yet to have any play time with either version as of yet.
Speaking of the analog sticks, I am PLEASED to say that they have dropped the 3DS "slide-coin" design that the prototype shown at E3 2011 displayed in exchange for much more traditional, yet very different for Nintendo, true analog "sticks". The new sticks will have full uninterrupted 360 degree movement as they lack the sectioned inner ring that have been around since the Gamecube and Wii days. These were intended to help give more set directions to the analog stick for better control, but we as gamers have learned to just use the sticks as they were intended as seen with how we play the Xbox360 and PS3 respectively. Another good change for Nintendo is that they have added a secondary "click" to the controllers to finally match up with the Xbox360/PS3 brethren. This will allow exact controls to be brought over from games made for other systems with no need to change them, while also allowing new features to grow out of the touch pad and motion controls.
The NFC Reader/Writer has been officially shown by Nintendo (it was announced already, and hinted at by Ubisoft recently in a leaked video) but no specifics were given today about its exact uses. I can see it becoming a way for toys to interact with games ala Skylanders as well as NFC capable devices being used for payments or transfering data securely. This is now shown by a small square imbedded on the left side of the control pad.
The other mystery button has been shows to be a "TV" button which allows the controller to function independent of the Wii U as your programable touch screen remote for your entire entertainment system. I can already see some irony in the fact it may be able to control my Xbox360 when I want to play Netflix then switch on the Wii U to browse the internet or play some small games while it goes on.
I am still left wondering about the power use / battery life for this new controller but hopefully this will all come out during E3 next week along with the game announcements they have promised for the event.
Now for the big announcement that was made during the show which was the "Nintendo Miiverse". "Miiverse" will be a way for Nintendo players to connect to eachother in a very direct and un-Nintendo way for the first time across the upcoming Wii U, and eventually the 3DS, Smart Phones, and even PC. This will be available at all times during any games just as the homescreen and some features are available on the 3DS during gameplay of 3DS titles. The example they gave was a VERY silly (but actually informative) video where a player is having a difficult time beating a part of a zombie game. The player goes to Miiverse and looks to see what other players are doing with this problem and posts a call for some help as well. Another friend sees this on his smart phone and proceeds to call him in a mocking tone. But the player finds the answer via another users post but still continues to fail. After this he selects to videochat with the player (I'm guessing on his friends list) and connects the Game Pad to a stand in front of the TV. After talking with the individual, he grabs the controller, jumps back into the game that has been paused, and solves the issue. While long winded, this leads to many possible ways to communicate with other players beyond just those you know on a day to day basis.
The final announcement was a surprise to me as it showed off a completely new controller that goes along with the Wii U Game Pad called the "Wii U Pro Controller". This new controller is the closest thing I could ever show if I wanted to say Nintendo ripped off another companies design as it could be mistaken for a 3rd party Xbox360 controller just as quickly as a new one from Nintendo themselves. And this is actually not a bad thing.
This new controller will show that while the new tablet is an amazing new step in control options (my opinion), the Wii U will be ready for the hardcore gamer as well by letting them use what is very close to what they are already used to. One enhancement over it's "father" is the Nintendo patented true "D-Pad" on the left which I hope to use in a few good fighting games because the old 360 one just doesn't cut it. The right analog stick and face buttons have been swapped as well which leads to a controller that feels like the 360's, but looks almost like an upside down PS3 Dualshock in regards to analog sticks. No extra details have been given yet, but I am glad this option will exist for multiplayer games. I am also wondering if there are any motion controls inside it. Hopefully we will find out more about this and much more (SHOW ME THE GAMES NINTENDO) in the upcoming few days.