E3 2012: The Wii U Wishlist

Nintendo gamers have much to look forward to in the coming months. While 2011 was almost completely barren for Nintendo’s home console, 2012 has promise. In one month, E3 2012 will officially kick off. Most gamers would testify that this marks the most exciting period of the year, flourishing with news and video footage of the most anticipated titles. Microsoft will impress the audience with Master Chief’s return in Halo 4. Sony has already announced a slew of first-party titles, such as Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale and The Last of Us, in addition to several surprises for the early Vita adopters. Some of these deserve an article all to themselves, but the show-stopper this year will certainly be the Nintendo Wii U.

Last year, Nintendo announced the Wii U, but never truly unveiled it. Aside from a few tech-demos, no gameplay footage was actually shown. In fact, Nintendo admittedly showed Xbox and PS3 footage in their highlight reel. Furthermore, Nintendo has been rather tight-lipped throughout the year, leaving all eyes on this year’s E3 conference. Listed below are the essentials that I want (and partially expect) from the Big N’s grand unveiling.

Strong Launch Titles

You’ve heard it before; the 3DS launched horribly. If the President of Nintendo America has admitted it, you know it was quite the disaster. Thankfully, Nintendo has apparently learned their lesson. While only time will tell is this is true, I can’t help but look at this optimistically. The reason being is fairly justifiable; Nintendo has some pretty big games slated for an E3 appearance. If they stick to these guns, Nintendo can easily win over skeptics.

Third-Party Support

Third-party support; the Achilles’ Heel of Nintendo. Every Nintendo console has more than a handful of notable first-party titles. The problem, for the past decade, has been moving beyond the expertise of the native company. In the long run, the Wii U won’t survive without big-name companies backing the technology. According to Nintendo, this is an obstacle that they are overcoming.

Last year, Nintendo labelled the Wii U as a “new beginning”. Following these bold words were a handful of the biggest developers praising the console. This video symbolizes many things for the company, and a new beginning is certainly one of them. Another being the Wii U as an M-Rated gaming experience. Most would argue that Nintendo has no place in the modern-core market, but one can’t blame the company for being ambitious.

Impressive Visuals

Nintendo never claimed that the Wii U will be a graphical powerhouse. In fact, they have stated quite the opposite. Iwata, the company’s CEO, strongly believes that Nintendo’s games all require unique development. Simply put, not all of their titles will rely on stunning visuals. Even so, Iwata noted that their AAA titles will be a graphical representation of the machine’s capabilities. With that said, this is the aspect of the Wii U that truly worries me.

I am not quick to believe the tabloid gossip. There is no doubt in my mind that the Wii U can produce an incredible image. We are referring to a machine that is over half-a-decade younger than the Xbox 360. Competing with the current generation consoles will be an easy accomplishment. I am concerned about the system’s long-term competition. The Xbox 720/Durango will undoubtedly be announced in the coming years, and the Wii U will be far behind technologically. This will put the system in the same position that the Wii is in today; with no third-party support.

Dedicated Controls

This is an important aspect that most gamers may overlook prior to the console’s launch. The tablet controller appears to be a revolutionary addition to Nintendo’s controller designs over the company’s lifespan, yet way more functional than its predecessor. The problem with the Wiimote was that it lacked dual analog sticks. Nintendo’s new controller may have a bright future, but leaves me concerned.

While nothing seems to be set in stone, Nintendo stated that the console will be able to support a single tablet controller. Months later, they proposed the idea of adding a second controller. Once again, nothing is set in stone. What I am asking from Nintendo is that they create a traditional controller, much like the Classic Controller Pro, that can fully navigate the console’s menus and games. The reason this controller must be new and native to the Wii U is because it would feature its own power supply. This would allow gamers to use it without a Wiimote awkwardly dangling from the controller, reducing weight and discomfort.

3DS Connectivity

The next generation is all about connectivity. This sprouts way beyond posting achievements and trophies to Facebook. EA is at the head of this movement, connecting all their games to an “online universe“. This was exemplified in Mass Effect 3, which had mobile games and applications affect the console experience. As mentioned in my previous article, Nintendo is very resistant to the notion of mobile development. In essence, this would be aiding the enemy.

That doesn’t mean that Nintendo can’t participate in this upcoming trend. Nintendo’s golden ticket into this advanced connectivity is through their latest portable console; the Nintendo 3DS. In regards to connectivity, the potential between these two machines are endless. For starters, rumours suggest a pedometer-like device that can share my Mii and StreetPass information with other gamers. Hopefully, Nintendo realizes that we already have a machine that can do that. Connecting and syncing the two machines’ profiles and Miis would be essential if Nintendo plans to pursue this trend. According to their ideas and concepts for the new Smash Bros. title, this has already been considered.

Online Gaming

In half a year, Xbox Live gains about five million users. The popularity of online gaming can not be overstated. Miyamoto himself has confirmed the importance of the Wii U’s online capabilities. If the Wii U wants to compete in the current market, multiplatform titles will need to be fully compatible with the machine. This has not been the case with the Nintendo Wii. Even the few multiplatform titles that landed on Nintendo’s current home console were viewed as a downgraded experience. Nintendo needs these AAA experiences from third-party developers that the other consoles are graced with. Franchises like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Mass Effect, and Batman should all be available to Nintendo fans. While not all multiplatform titles feature online play, the exclusion of a robust multiplayer component will turn gamers away from that particular version of the game.

Full HD and 60 FPS

This request is merely wishful thinking. Spoiled by PC gaming, I have gotten comfortable playing in 1080p, with 60 frames per second. Modern gaming consoles run at 720p, and rarely hit the 60fps mark. The Wii U may be able to change that. While achieving both may be a difficult task, graphical options can be placed to accommodate this. Players should be able to wager the visuals for smoother gameplay. Due to the nature of computer gaming, every PC game includes this feature. It’s time for consoles to catch up.

Smooth and Customizable Interface

When comparing the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, I always bring up Sony’s XMB. This is the Cross Media Bar interface that is found on both the PS3 and PSP. It is clean, convenient, and most importantly, easy on the eyes. The Xbox 360, on the other hand, hasn’t found a comfortable interface, resulting in frequent changes via updates. The Wii has a decent interface, but the Wii U is Nintendo’s chance to reinvent the screen that gamers will be staring at for the next five-plus years.

While asking for a new interface, I should note that some limited customization is welcomed. The screen must look similar for all Wii U owners, but allow options to categorize and personalize downloaded games and applications. The Nintendo 3DS recently gained the ability to add and manage folders on the HOME menu. This reduced the clutter of all twenty ambassador games, as well as any eShop downloads. This is the type of thinking that should be used for the Wii U’s new interface.

Release Date and Price

It has already been announced that Nintendo will not spill the details on the Wii U’s price and launch date at this year’s E3. This was still added to the wishlist because, hey, a man can dream.

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