Nintendo’s new Wii U console launched to mixed reactions, some loving the idea of a sizable tablet-style controller, and others longing for the simple days of a Wiimote. We found the new controller curiously compelling in our hands-on play at E3 2011 yesterday, and now Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto has been laying out some of the design and gameplay decisions in a new Iwata Asks feature. Meanwhile, hardware specs for the Wii U are gradually becoming clear.
“To those people who said things like how we should leave more buttons on it, I think “I completely understand. But that is exactly why we need to do it this way. There can be a new gameplay standard ahead of this.” That’s how we made the Wii Remote. With the new controller this time, it has a touchscreen here, and you can see information on it at anytime that won’t appear on the TV. So, on many levels, it’s a tool that makes things easier to understand. So by taking advantage of it, we can think about designing bold, brand new games.” Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo
According to Miyamoto, Nintendo’s approach with the Wii U wasn’t just to make the controller suited to more complex gameplay – without leaving it bristling with hardware buttons – but to broaden what applications it could address and how AV equipment is used in today’s home. For instance, with the Wii Balance Board (which the Wii U can connect to), “instead of turning on the TV, just this is enough to display graphs and such while your checking your weight, so it’s handy in a way that you are able to play Wii Fit with just this and the Wii Balance Board.”
In fact, using the Wii U controller’s camera, “you can place [the controller] against something and play while the game looks at your status” without needing to use your regular TV. Alternatively, in golf games for instance, the Wii U controller could be on the floor with the display showing the “roughness” of the grass – players could use the regular Wiimote as the club, looking down at the virtual ball and green to work out how hard to hit it and at what angle.
As for the hardware involved, Nintendo hasn’t released full details but some of its hardware partners have piped up regarding their involvement. IBM is responsible for the custom 45nm multicore CPU with embedded DRAM, while IBM will be supplying the custom Radeon HD GPU with 1080p HD support. Internal storage – the amount of which is unannounced, and will probably depend on flash pricing closer to the point of manufacture – can be augmented by SD card or USB hard-drive, plugging into one of the Wii U’s four USB 2.0 ports.
Video output options will include HDMI, S-video and component, and there’ll be streaming video and downloadable game support via a network connection. No word on integrated WiFi at this stage, nor whether the optical drive will play back DVD/Blu-ray media.
More details and screenshots in our SlashGear 101: What Can the Nintendo Wii U Do? feature, and live video in our Wii U hands-on.