A look at the Wii U GamePad’s earliest prototypes

Posted under 3DS, News, Podcast Stories, Wii U
December 6, 2012 by (@NE_Brian)

In the latest Iwata Asks, Nintendo’s CEO brought along a couple of never-before-seen Wii U GamePad prototypes.

Here’s the first one:

It’s a rather odd contraption. Essentially, the prototype is a Wii Zapper peripheral with a nunchuck and screen attached.

The Iwata Asks discussion explains how the concept came about and how it led to the inclusion of a gyro sensor in the 3DS:

Iwata: That was back when we haven’t yet decided on a concrete concept for Wii U. We experimented many things, and one of that was to see what would happen if there was another dedicated screen to a TV game console.

Eguchi: Right.

Shimamura: I thought that might come up, so I brought this as a prop today.

Eguchi: This was the start of two-screen gameplay.

Iwata: Yes. I did that, too. An experiment using the Wii Zapper controller was what inspired us to put a gyro sensor in the Nintendo 3DS system, which was in the final phases of development.

Shimamura: Yes. After development of Wii Sports Resort, Yamashita-san and I were thinking about something new that would draw upon the knowhow for Wii MotionPlus.6 We tested gameplay that involved moving the Wii Zapper and having images from the Wii move in sync on a monitor in your hands. It was fairly well received…

Iwata: When (Shigeru) Miyamoto-san saw that experiment, he said that he definitely wanted to put a gyro sensor in Nintendo 3DS, so even though the ship was headed out of the harbor, he called it back.7 This happened after the people in the hardware department had already been declared that “all features are now set!” (laughs)

Yamashita: Yeah. (laughs) We intended to present it as a Wii U project, so when it was snatched away for the Nintendo 3DS, we were sad, but also pleased.

Shimamura: But thanks to this prototype, however, we were able to explain the structure of Wii U—having a screen in your hands—and it became more compelling.

Iwata: The way that Nintendo makes hardware is to take an idea that has arisen and make something makeshift and actually try it out.

Below is the second prototype mentioned in the Iwata Asks:

This prototype is almost as strange as the first one. It contains two nunchucks and a monitor stiched together with double-sided tape.

Shimamura: Right. The next makeshift thing we made for Wii U GamePad concept—a second prototype—is this.

Iwata: Behold the original form of the Wii U GamePad! (laughs)

Shimamura: It’s very high-tech—a monitor and controllers stuck together by double-sided tape. (laughs)

Iwata: I remember that you made a lot of prototype software with this.

Shimamura: Yeah. If we made a list, I think there’d be about 30.

Eguchi: We used this prototype and two Wii consoles to run simulations for Wii U. EAD isn’t a hardware department, but a “handicraft team” knowledgeable about hardware makes stuff like this.

Iwata: Making this prototype led to Nintendo Land, so the development period for Nintendo Land was quite long.

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