Wii U: So Much for Introductions

Wii U: So Much for Introductions

If you attended Nintendo’s E3 2011 press conference, or if you watched the live feed, you probably clapped after seeing the trailer for the Wii U and exclaimed, “Great!…So, uh, is this a new video game system, or what?”

The Wii U is most definitely a whole new console; it’s more powerful than the Wii, and possibly even more powerful than the PlayStation 3. It features impressive high-definition graphics. Unfortunately for Nintendo, a troubling chunk of the Internet still believes that the Wii U is simply a new controller for the Wii. Part of this misunderstanding undoubtedly stems from Nintendo’s decision to show off the Wii U’s tablet-like controller using older game footage, including New Super Mario Bros. Wii and a Mii-based baseball game.

A few days following the unveiling of the Wii U, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata admitted to the London Evening Standard that the company’s presentation should have put the console ahead of the controller. “Because we put so much emphasis on the controller, there appeared to be some misunderstandings,” Iwata said. “We should have made more effort to explain how it works. We haven’t made any kind of blunder, but I should have shown a single picture of the new console, then started talking about the controller. The console is not drastically different, and Wii U is about the controller. The console itself will be almost invisible.”

Problem is, the console was too invisible at E3. Even a little more focus on the system itself and its abilities beyond the tablet controller would have eased a lot of the subsequent confusion. In the crucial first few seconds of the system’s introductory trailer, we see a fellow playing New Super Mario Bros. Wii on a television before he switches to a screen-only display; what are we supposed to think except “Is the Wii U just a new controller, or what?” Nothing against New Super Mario Bros. Wii, mind, it’s an awesome game, but we’ve played it. When we see a trailer for a new system, we’re going to automatically assume that any gameplay footage demonstrated alongside said system is meant to show off the power of the new hardware. Nintendo should have given us something except for old Mario footage and yet more Mii’s. Moreover, the confusion over the Wii U’s abilities can potentially strike casual gamers twice as hard, a player base Nintendo has spent the past six years wooing.

To be fair, Nintendo did demonstrate what the system is capable of via a trailer featuring some tantalizing core offerings from third parties, and the latter half of the actual Wii U hardware trailer showed off some mouth-watering Legend of Zelda footage that would simply not be possible on the original Wii (said footage made the Skyward Sword demo for Wii look positively antiquated). But by the time we reached that point in the trailer, we already had our heads cocked to the side like a pack of confused dogs.

If Nintendo had shown off the Zelda demo first–shown off what the Wii U is capable of processing–the rest of the press conference would have gone a bit more smoothly, and we would have been eased into examples of what the Wii U’s controller can do for casual and core players alike.

So has Nintendo blown its chance to pop our heads off with the Wii U’s capabilities? Well, there’s something to be said for first impressions, but it’s far from over for the Wii U. Nintendo’s next big chance to wow us will be at the Tokyo Game Show this fall. Having realized the mistakes it made at E3, there’s little doubt the Big N will energize itself on its home turf and ensure we know, once and for all, that the Wii U is not just a tablet extension of the Wii.

Heck, maybe Nintendo will even go as far as to share some hardware specs with us.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.


  1. I think I went to yoga and then played Legend of Zelda-Twilight Princess all day. I’m pretty sure that’s what just happened.

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