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Wii U

Reggie on how Nintendo can explain Wii U to those who haven’t played it…

“What we are doing with Wii U is creating an ability for games to leverage two different screens; the big screen in your room, and the smaller handheld screen in front of you. By doing so it opens up all of these different experiences. The experience I use to describe it to someone is to imagine a first person shooter, where instead of constantly having to look at the screen, now I’ve got things happening all around me.

“It’s a great experience. I don’t think it’s going to be a hard sell. I think that communicating to consumers through the magic of the second window, you can have a totally unique experience, with another player still in the room… I don’t think it’s a difficult sell.”

Here’s what Griptonite Games said when asked about Wii U…

“It would be awesome to work on Wii U, if just to explore new ideas. That handheld screen could open up some great possibilities for a tabletop kind of experience with friends, among others. Nintendo has always been known for its innovation and the Wii U is no exception. We’re not only tempted but itching to develop for it!”

Shinobi Wii U? Ah wait… it’s way too premature to be talking about that. Although I have to admit I’m very curious as to how the 3DS game will turn out…

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At E3 last month, only a few specific third-party games were announced for Wii U. Capcom is one of many publishers that didn’t announce actual support for the console. However, that doesn’t mean that the company won’t be bringing any games to the platform in the future.

On the latest “Ask Capcom” segment, Christian Svensson said that Capcom has been having conversations about how to approach the platform. Although he wouldn’t provide further information, he did admit that Capcom is “close with Nintendo.” In other words, you can probably expect Capcom to show some support for Wii U down the line – at next year’s E3, perhaps.

“Coming to the topic of Wii U, we continue to have conversations about best to tackle that. I have nothing to confirm right now, but we’re close with Nintendo. That’s probably the best way I’d put it. You can draw your own conclusions from there.”

id Software’s John Carmack has commented on Wii U a few times now. But perhaps the statements below are the most supportive he’s sounded thus far. Carmack even went as far as to say that “It should be a slam dunk to move over to Tech 5 games” to Wii U.

“Pretty early on we had a pretty negative experience with Nintendo back in the Super Nintendo days. They were a different company then. They were very much about tightening, controlling the sorts of things that they want to have happen on their consoles. But that’s long in the past. The issues in the current time have just been technology missteps, where we’re out of step with them; we were at a clear point where designing for the 360, PS3 and PC made lots of sense. But you couldn’t have one content development project naturally bridge the gap. If anything, I’m much more inclined to want to develop something for Nintendo now because I’ve got a 6-year-old son and we play Wii and DS games all the time. I’d be happy to do something there. It just hasn’t been the right fit for where id Software is with our projects and technologies.

It should be a slam dunk to move over to Tech 5 games on there. We haven’t had that discussion yet as a company, but it seems technically like it’s a valid target, so I’m always happy to go ahead and get a new box in and see what it takes to bring it up and see the pros and cons of the choices they made. I think they probably made a fairly intelligent decision with the Wii U.

I think there may be more good uses of that [Wii U tablet] than [there are for] the current generation with Kinect and Move… there’s clearly a subset of games for which things like that are appropriate for. We’ve been going on with how can we use those types of motion things with Rage and it’s hard to take a game that’s fundamentally designed around a controller and get value out of doing some of those other things, while adding extra touch interfaces there, that seems like something that almost every game could make some use of without it being just like, ‘Oh, we have to do something like this.’ Because if you remember, when the DS came out, there was a lot of talk about how, ‘Isn’t this going to be just a gimmick?’ But really it did turn out to be quite a good interface to build on.”

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The information below comes from Eiji Aonuma. In addition to the quotes below, he said that the Skyward Sword team did not make the Zelda Wii U demo. However, Satoru Takizawa, art director of Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, was deeply involved.

“You probably remember that when we introduced the GameCube, we showed a somewhat realistic Zelda demo. And what we actually created was the cel-shaded Wind Waker. So when we show a graphic demo, people think, ‘Oh, this is what the next Zelda will look like,’ but that’s not necessarily the case. I’m on one of the committees that oversaw the general steering and direction. We talked to each other a lot about several elements, one of which was, ‘How exactly will the HD graphics work?’ In doing concepts for that … we used Zelda assets quite often to examine, OK, how real will we make this look?”

One of the features of the Zelda Wii U demo allowed the inventory/weapons to be displayed on the controller. These elements could also be moved to the television. But Aonuma says that he’d like to bring much more to the table when an actual Zelda game for Wii U is made:

“I’d like to do things that are more surprising than that.”

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This information comes from Super Mario producer Yoshiaki Koizumi…

“As a developer at Nintendo, I had some information about the new system, but I didn’t really have all of the information prior to the announcement at our presentation. I only knew some of the things that were considered to be safe. …We’re always asking ourselves questions like this as we’re researching new games, about the opportunities presented by the hardware. When I think about the two screens being used at the same time, it seems like an interesting opportunity to allow us to create a console game where two people are playing at the same time but can’t see each others’ screens. It’s certainly an interesting approach, but I have to clarify that it’s not something that we’re working on just yet.”

Here’s an additional nugget from Koizumi: Like his idea above, Koizumi was working on a feature in The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask that connected the Nintendo 64 and original black-and-white Game Boy systems to play on two screens. Obviously, that idea never made it into the final product. Koizumi wouldn’t share additional details, only saying that “The information’s going to be shared at some point, but I don’t think today’s the time.”

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This information comes from Bethesda marketing VP Pete Hines…

“Our motto has always been: We want to make our games available to the widest audience possible on whatever platforms that will support the game. So to whatever extent new consoles fit with the kind of games we are making and support them technologically, we would certainly do that. The Wii wasn’t even an option – we would have to make wholesale changes to the games we were making on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC to make them work on Wii. I honestly know nothing about the tech specs of the new platforms (Wii U and Vita) and whether or not they are a good fit for what we are making with say Rage and Skyrim and Prey 2. If they are a good fit for the kind of games we are making then absolutely, we would look to put them out for those. But beyond that I can’t get into specifics.”

A comment comment from developers/publishers we’ve been hearing lately is that Wii U can provide experiences that the Wii could not. Also, they’ve been saying that the increase in technical specifications make it easier to work on a Nintendo platform. I am wondering just how much more powerful Wii U is compared to the PS3/360 though, since that’s something more industry members have been avoiding lately.

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Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is fully supportive of Wii U. In an interview with The Guardian, Kotick noted that it was difficult to support Nintendo’s current console because of “the expectations that our gamers have.” However, he’s pleased that Wii U is on par with its competition. Kotick also said that “it’s now more possible to do deep rich multiplayer games”, although Activision is in need of more details regarding the console’s online functionality.

“There will always be a need for specialised hardware to satisfy the needs of gamers. With the Wii U … from a development perspective, having a Nintendo device that is on parity with the other hardware from a graphics perspective was really necessary. For the kinds of games we create, it was becoming very difficult for us to support the Wii with the expectations that our gamers have. I think that the user-interface itself is very clever – there will be a lot of innovation to come from having the second screen. It’s also critically important that you can use the existing physical interfaces with the new device because those are really compelling. Nintendo has always done a very good job of thinking about the user experience and this is no exception. …Well, without telling you our title plans, it’s now more possible to do deep rich multiplayer games – we need more clarity from Nintendo on the online capabilities, but we’ve had development systems for a while now and we’re very enthusiastic about it.”

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Yes, Nintendo’s initial response about possibly bringing Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower to North America was lame. It was short and uninformative. Although they promised an update in the near future, it was not at all worth the wait.

This response, too, is useless and basically confirms what most Nintendo fans have feared: Nintendo of America is not bringing any of these desired titles stateside. Looks like Operation Rainfall is going to have a long, tough battle ahead of them…

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