The Mayans were right! 2012 is the year the world ends, everything gets turned on its head, rioting like mad from normally rational people… okay, I can’t say that last part with a straight face. But for a lot of people, the end of the world came from Nintendo’s September 13th press conference, otherwise known as “E3 2012 Part 2: The Vastly Improved Sequel”. Why? Let’s find out by recapping what was shown and what this means for gamers, and try to find the sign of the apocalypse. In real life, I mean, not the one portrayed in Darksiders 2.
Now, we knew for some time that Nintendo would reveal the release date and price for their next-generation system on September 13th. Predictions were flying everywhere before then, but now all that’s left is reactions and the obligatory complaints. The Wii U will be released in North America on November 18th, 2012. I can’t think of a single person who didn’t figure that out, but from the previous rumors about hardware nightmares concerning the Gamepad, there was a slight worry that Nintendo wouldn’t make Black Friday in the states. However, the real good news was in the price. Prepare to have your mind blown, people. Nintendo is releasing 2 SKUs for the Wii U. One will be in white, and will come with a Gamepad, an HDMI cable, a sensor bar, an AC adapter, and 8 GB of Flash Memory. It will cost $299. The other, known as the Deluxe Set, comes in black with a Gamepad, sensor bar, AC adapter, HDMI cable, 32 GB of Flash memory, charging cradles and stands for both the console and the Gamepad, a copy of Nintendoland, and a Nintendo Network Premium Subscription. The Premium Subscription grants you points for eShop purchases equal to around 10% of the original price. These points can be used toward other purchases once you reach 500 of them, or the equivalent of $5 in points. This model costs $349.
Take a step back and forget all the bull you’ve been hearing about the Wii U being underpowered or a current-gen system. If you untangle yourself from all that wrongness, you’ll begin to realize why this is huge: Nintendo is pricing their NEXT-GEN console in the same price bracket as its rivals’ CURRENT-GEN offerings. This is a HUGE win for Nintendo. Their next-gen console is affordable even while the other current-gen consoles are still around. Of course, if you take a small step forward, you may think, how can this be? There has to be a catch to this, costs had to have been cut in some way. While you may think that the Wii U can do this because it’s using weak tech like too many people need to be asserting, the real reason is actually right in front of you: depending on which model you get, you’re getting either 8 GB or 16 GB of flash storage. The current-gen consoles sport 128-256 GB internal hard drives.
Fortunately for you, the Wii U is compatible with all forms of external storage. So instead of paying for an overpriced hard-drive because it’s all your console can use, you can buy an external hard drive and get more memory for less. Or get a hefty SD card. Or use external memory that you already have. Or don’t even bother if you’re not big on digital downloads, in which case 32 GB is plenty. Nintendo is giving you the freedom to handle your Wii U’s storage however you see fit, and depending on your situation, you’ll either be saving a lot of money compared to the alternative or pay about as much as you would if the Wii U had an internal hard drive ad get a lot more memory out of it. Nintendo is giving the consumer a lot more freedom, and because that’s how they fir their next-gen offering in the same price bracket as the 360 and PS3, you can rest assured that the Wii U won’t be skimping on the power.
Speaking of, we also got some more information on what’s inside the Wii U console. We don’t know the full specs yet; the CPU and GPU remain a mystery. But we know the following: The Wii U has 2 GB of RAM. One GB is dedicated to games, the other is dedicated to the OS, but devs can tap into this second GB later in the Wii U’s lifecycle. This is somewhat similar to what the PS3 did, dedicating half the RAM to the games and half to the OS, but not only will the Wii U be easier to develop for throughout its lifecycle, it has 4 times the RAM of the PS3 on both accounts. We also know that the Wii U uses modern architecture known as GPGPU, which some who have been following the Wii U before September 13th already figured out. GPGPU is when the GPU does certain things that the CPU would have done, but thanks to how the GPU works, it does these things far faster. This would explain the time when a Tekken dev said the Wii U’s clock speed is “kinda slow”, because if speed is better handled by a GPGPU, why would the CPU need it? This also proves that the Wii U isn’t repeating the Wii’s power scenario. The Wii used 2001 technology in 2006. The Wii U is using tech that’s much more modern for its time.
One of the big surprises to come out of the conference was Nintendo’s new TVii feature for the Wii U. Integrating Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and Tivo, TVii takes the concept of the Wii U being a TV remote and runs with it. You can use Miis to mark favorites for each member of your household, and you can use the Gamepad to control your DVR. It looks really cool, basically like streaming Netflix on your Wii taken to the next level. In a world where gaming consoles are all but required to have some kind of multimedia functionality, TVii fits the bill just fine while not getting in the way of the Wii U’s main purpose like some “family-oriented” console features do. I’m looking at you, Kinect.
Specs and features aside, we also got a good deal of info about games. We got the full roster of Nintendoland attractions: in addition to what we had coming out of E3, we have the multiplayer action attraction “Pikmin Adventure”, “Mario Chase” which is the final version of “Chase Mii” from E3 2011, something called “Octopus Dance” that we know nothing about but may involve Mr. Game and Watch, “Yoshi’s Fruit Cart” which is also a mystery aside from its name, “Metroid Blast” which is E3 2011′s Battle Mii with Samus in it, and “Balloon Trip Breeze”, harkening back to the NES classic Balloon Fight. The attractions that we do know a lot about look really, really fun. To me, it’s easily worth getting the Deluxe Wii U for.
We also saw more of Mario’s next game, New Super Mario Bros U, or “the reason why New Super Mario Bros 2 shouldn’t have been made until 2015″. Unlike the previous three entries in this Mario sub-series, NSMBU isn’t going to feel like one of Mario 3′s impersonators. Actually, it’s taking a lot from Super Mario World. The trailer looked really cool. We saw visuals that are far more gorgeous than New Super Mario Bros Wii, an open world map like Mario World, (but still with themes like Mario 3 and the other NSMB games, though we only saw the desert area) and more of that sweet, sweet Mario platforming. We also got another flashback to Mario World in the music. World had pretty much the entire soundtrack consist of one song and several variations of it. This game appears to be doing the same with the trailer music from E3. This trailer opens with an awesome rendition of that theme, with no “ba” sound effects or anything! I always fond the original song to be pretty awesome, so this could be a nice touch. We also saw the new “boost rush mode”, where you have to complete an autoscrolling version of a normal level in as little time as possible. Sound like a paradox? Well, the more coins you get, the faster the stage scrolls, so you can do really well by getting a lot of coins (sound familiar?) but the more you get, the greater the challenge becomes. Overall, the game looks really awesome.
You know how at E3 2012, Ubisoft was the third party developer that Nintendo had showcase games during their conference? This time, that honor went to Activision. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 came out of its transparent closet as a Wii U title, with the new ability to have local multiplayer no longer be split-screen. Instead, one player will use the TV and the other will play on the Gamepad. It’s a cool new feature. We also found out that 007 Legends, a game telling the story of all the James Bond films up to and including Skyfall, will be on the Wii U. Finally, Activision told us that the Wii U will be getting Skylanders Giants, with the toy-to-game action possible due to the Gamepad’s NFC capabilities. Activision aside, a lot of other companies showed their Wii U cards. Shin’en, the ultimate Wiiware maker and the kind behind the 3DS’ Nano Assault brings us Nano Assault Neo for the Wii U, a unique and beautiful-looking space shooter. From Capcom we have Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate on the Wii U and 3DS. From Namco, Tekken Tag Tournament 2: Wii U edition, sporting costumes for various Nintendo characters for the fighters. This is all awesome news, but the best has got to be from Platinum Games.
First of all, remember Project P-100? That game got a name change to The Wonderful 101. It’s about a group of 100 heroes who must band together to stop evil, but you already knew that. The reason why I’m bringing it up is because the trailer blew my mind at the end. The narrator says “The Wonderful 101. I knew we forgot someone… you.” Just for that I can’t wait to buy that game. In terms of mind-blowing however, 101derful only comes second in the games department to Platinum’s other offering: Bayonetta 2. As a Wii U exclusive. Yeah, I had the same look on my face when I found out. A mix of shock and awe and excitement. It got better when i found out the story: SEGA, the first game’s publisher, dropped the project. Nintendo picked it up and is now publishing the game. So thanks to Nintendo, we got Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U instead of nothing at all! I can’t wait to play it!
That’s not what some other people thought, however. For many, this was the reveal that started the apocalypse as I stated at the beginning of this article. After this was revealed, the Nintendooming troll corner of the internet went ablaze. Something happened that they couldn’t twist. Nintendo, who they always chastised for not getting big-name 3rd party hardcore titles, got one. And they went berserk. Internet forums and twitter were filled with rants, usually all-caps, about how Nintendo stole Bayonetta 2 and how the game was ruined and how it should have been on a real console instead of a toddler’s toy . (because as we all know, the WiiU is a collective hallucination) Instead of being able to make any kind of actual point against Nintendo, the dark corner of the internet just flung all their half-baked insults at once. “Underpowered thing with a fisher-price controller”, “toddler’s toy”, “hijacker”, etc. Some even made death threats against Nintendo, Platinum, and SEGA. For the rest of us, however, their empty threats and petty, immature insults are nothing short of amusing. It’s like watching an angry dog try to attack you, when that dog is on a leash connected to a tree and you’re three feet or so away from the leash’s length. It’s angry, but completely powerless. And you are well within your rights to laugh.
On a more serious note, if only because of this backlash, if you’re going to get a Wii U, you NEED to buy Bayonetta 2 when it is released. If the game sells well, it’ll prove that Nintendo can have big-name hardcore games on its next-gen console, and more importantly, that the voices of the angry Nintendoomers don’t matter. Wouldn’t that be a great ending, if after all the raging and insults and threats of destruction and boycott, Bayonetta 2 on the Wii U turns out a success?
So yeah, September 13th was a great day to be a Nintendo gamer or a gamer in general, because after a lackluster E3, the Wii U came out of this conference shining brighter than ever. So support Nintendo and the next generation of this great industry by buying a Wii U! Though do act fast, pre-orders are selling out fast at many a retailer. Good luck!