Satoru Iwata details Wii U concept, Miiverse

Wii U controller named, social network introduced.

Nintendo global president Satoru Iwata detailed the concept of the Wii U during a Nintendo Direct broadcast tonight.

The console’s touchscreen controller, previously without a name, has been confirmed to be called the Wii U Gamepad. The name comes from the Nintendo Entertainment System controller, which was called a Gamepad due to its flat shape. The controller’s rumored redesigns were also confirmed. It no longer uses circle pads for joysticks, but instead actual joysticks that stick out of the controller. In additon to 360 degree control, the joysticks can also be pushed in, allowing for further functionality. The back has also been redesigned to provide a better grasp.

All forms of Wii controllers, as well as the Wii Fit balance board, are compatible with Wii U. A Wii U Pro controller will be released for ‘more intense’ forms of gaming, such as longer periods of play or for multiplatform games. Also, you will be able to use your Wii U Gamepad to control the television using the controller’s “TV” button.

Iwata says that the system’s two screens (the TV and the controller) are more dynamic than that of the the DS, as they’re not fixed.

A video was played showing off the system’s network capabilities – the Miiverse. It featured a frustrated gamer struggling to take down a zombie boss. To get help, he first posted a message (and his mood) on the network asking for help, leading to a call from his friend who saw the message from his cell phone. After his help was ineffective, he video-chatted his grandfather for assistance, who was able to solve his problem. A Black Wii U console and controller were used during the clip.

You’ll see the Miiverse each time your start up your Wii U. It is a screen filled with the Miis on your system, your friends’ Miis, and other Miis playing the same games. You will be able to access the Miiverse at any time, even in-game, without the need to terminate your game session. It will allow you to communicate with other players through both typing and hand-writing. Developers can also add Miiverse integration into their games. Have a look at how it’s done in this Mario game:

Miiverse does not require the use of your TV screen. In fact, Nintendo considers the Wii U Gamepad a players’ social window, linking player to player, living room to living room. Miiverse will eventually be available from Nintendo 3DS, PC, or any mobile device. The social elements of Miiverse are being designed for Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and future Nintendo devices.

Nintendo also briefly showed off the system’s browser, which allows you to surf internet content on your Wii U Gamepad, and send certain elements to the television. A video for example, can be found first on the controller, and then sent to the TV for all to see. You can even add effects like a curtain pullback.

So what’s left for the system’s E3 media briefing? “During that event, we will be focusing almost entirely on games for Wii U,” said Iwata.

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