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Someone doesn't believe in Wii U?

With the Wii U fast approaching, there’s a sense of excitement in the air. People are talking about it, the HD, the controller, the next Zelda game… sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who’s not too impressed with what I see. I guess I’m skeptical of the Wii U and I feel there are things that need to be addressed. Things that could become a problem for Nintendo, but also things that could become a problem for us.

For simplicity’s sake, I have summarized my thoughts into three concrete points, though you could argue it’s just three symptoms of the same core problem. I guess that’s for you to decide. Regardless, just hit the jump to get started and be sure to tell us what you think by leaving a comment.

Number 1: Marketing

Looks a lot like a Wii peripheral, doesn't it?

Let me take you back to E3 2011. I was in a Skype call with some friends, which is what we usually do for E3. When the Wii U was announced, I was very excited to see it. And then… confusion ensued. In the video, a young woman was putting a pad down on the ground and used a Wii remote to play golf. And I thought “wait, is this another Wii peripheral like the Balance Board, because I only see this touch pad, no console at all”. I wasn’t the only one who was confused initially. And sure, it pretty soon became apparent to us that this was indeed the controller for the new console, even though it looked very similar to the Wii itself and used Wii remotes. I feel like if we, the fans and gamers got confused–even for a few minutes–imagine how confused the casual gamers will be. Nintendo was catering to that crowd a lot with the Wii and DS but they’re eliminating a lot of them with the Wii U based on the similarities to the Wii. Especially the name: how is the casual gamer supposed to know the Wii U is a new console?

Why don’t we find out? This is a test you can actually do. See if your casual gamer friends can pick out the new console out of the following Wii-branded products:

Wii Balance Board
Wii MotionPlus
Wii Party
Wii Remote
Wii U
Wii Zapper

The 3DS, while selling well, suffers from the same problem of having a name too similar to the DS and all its different formats. How is someone not familiar with games supposed to know Kid Icarus is compatible with the 3DS but not the DSi or DS Lite? Had the Wii U been called Wii 2, it would be obvious to everyone that it’s a sequel to the Wii and life would be so much easier, especially for Nintendo’s marketing team that want to let the world know a new console has arrived that’s not an add-on or a new iteration of the Wii.

Number 2: Moving on in the wrong areas:

The MotionPlus is great. I love using it when I play Skyward Sword, or Red Steel 2 or… um… Wii Sports Resort… yeah there aren’t that many games using the MotionPlus, are there? The biggest reason for this is because it’s an add-on, so not every Wii player has it. Therefore, the market for a game that uses MotionPlus is smaller than the regular Wii market. So that’s one reason not to develop MotionPlus games right there, and it’s a shame because I feel like the MotionPlus is really what every motion controlled game should use. If I was Nintendo, I would’ve taken the Wii remotes off the market by the time the Wii Remote Plus controller came out and offer everyone who has a regular Wii remote to trade it in for a Wii Remote Plus at no charge. However, that is of course expensive and takes a lot of time and effort, so it would perhaps make more sense to make a new Wii remote standard for the next console, right? So why is Nintendo keeping the old Wii Remotes? For backwards compatibility it makes sense, but for newer games it means we will still be treated to the same waggle controls since the MotionPlus will still be a smaller market. In fact, the problem will be made worse since we also have the Wii U tablet as a standard controller. Except only for single player games because you can only use one pad per system. Which brings me to my third point:

 

Number 3: Lack of Focus

After  all these years bragging about how motion controls give everyone a better experience and how it’s the future of gaming, Nintendo pretty much gives up on it and introduced the tablet. Sure, the Wii remotes will still be around but they’re not the focus of the console and need only be used for multiplayer games and maybe some single player ones like Zelda. Why is this a problem? Well, imagine you’re a developer. You’re coming up with some cool uses for the Wii U tablet. Suddenly, you realize you planned on making a multiplayer mode as well. However, to do that you need to come up with alternate controls for the Wii Remote since you can only have one tablet per system. Chances are you’ll  either scrap the tablet or scrap local multiplayer. The game industry has been moving away from local multiplayer for some time now (though co-op has been getting popular, thank God). I feel like the Wii U will only further motivate people to get rid local multiplayer and focus on the online experience. So you say, okay but that’s only for multiplayer games. If you’re developing a single player game and only use the tablet then you can use all its cool features, right? Well…

Do we have to choose between these two features?

Let’s look at the tablet and its features. One cool thing about it is that you can have the HUD on your controller so they don’t clog up the TV screen. That’s pretty neat. Same goes for the pause screen, you put it on the controller so you can still see what’s going on in the paused game. You also have the option of using the controller as your main screen if someone else is using the TV. Hey, that’s even better than the last two. It’s so convenient that it’s even one of the main selling points of the Wii U. And it is a good idea. Except, when you’re using the controller as your main screen you have to put the HUD back on the tablet screen, so while that extra space on the TV screen was nice, you can’t put it to good use in-game like have more enemies come from above or something, because the player might need that space for the HUD if the tablet is used as the main screen. Same goes for pause menu screen. So while both those features are neat… they can’t give you a deeper gaming experience, unless you want to remove the switch screens feature. But since it’s one of the main selling points of the Wii U, I feel like that would just be confusing. Imagine this scenario, dad comes home and wants to watch Vampire Diaries (because dad has a really bad taste when it comes to TV shows) and I’m playing Super Mario Galaxy 3:

Dad: Hey son, would you mind switching to the controller, I have to see who gets bitten today.

Son: Sorry dad, I can’t.

Dad: Why not? Isn’t this Wii supposed to do that? I saw it on the commercials.

Son: Yeah but it doesn’t work for this game.

Dad: What? Then why did we buy it when you already have another Wii?

Son: It’s not the sa… you know what, I’ll just pause the game and you can switch channels.

So we talked about what it might be like for a developer to sort out the Wii U’s different options. Now, with the example above in mind, imagine being a customer buying Wii U games: ”Oh, this game looks neat, let’s see. So it uses the Wii U tablet, but in some cases also Wii remotes, and some of those need MotionPlus and there’s a balance board and a zapper… I’m confused.” Like I said before, those of us who play video games won’t find it all too difficult, it’s about the others. The casual gamers, the parents buying gifts for their kids, the poor GameStop clerks who have to explain all these things because Nintendo couldn’t focus on one direction.

Conclusion:

So what should be made different? What are my ideas for preventing these issues? First off, scrap the name Wii U and call is Super Wii. Wii 2 is also possible but Super Wii sounds cooler. Then, the most important step is redesigning the Wii remote and release that as the standard controller, replacing the tablet. This controller would be a Wii remote with better battery life, integrated vitality sensor (if they’re still doing that) and better MotionPlus. While SS controls were good, they could be more accurate with some new hardware, and the MotionPlus is five years old now. Surely we can get something better by now. Finally, I would prefer the GameCube button layout instead of just the A button, and maybe put an extra trigger button beside the B button. The Nunchuck should probably have MotionPlus as well, and perhaps make that wireless as well?

My concept for a "Super Wii" remote

Unfortunately I have zero influence over Nintendo. And ultimately, if these issues aren’t addressed, we the gamers risk being the ones suffering for it. I say that because when the developers aren’t sure which direction to go in, it’s a lot more difficult to make good games. And when the consumers aren’t sure which direction they want to go in (say invest in more Wii Remotes, MotionPlus, or a Wii Fit) a lot of good games that deserve sales might get alienated to a certain degree. Worst case scenario: developers aren’t willing to take any risks and only make single player games using the tablet and it’s standard features. And then we end up with just another batch of sequels, another Modern Warfare, another Street Fighter 4 edition, another Riiiidge Racer. See, what was so great about the Wii is that it made developers think. It made them come up with new ideas to enhance the gaming experience, because the Wii Remote essentially forced them to. Sure, a lot of ideas failed and some games just had plain bad controls and would’ve been better with a traditional controller, but at least progression was being made and inventions were encouraged and some games turned out great, like Red Steel 2, Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition and of course Skyward Sword. Unfortunately I feel that with the Wii U, Nintendo’s pushing people into several different directions when they should keep going in the same path they’ve gone with the Wii, and try their best to improve the Wii experience, improve the lacking features such as online capabilities and overall make it easier for 3rd parties to work with the Wii U to develop some great, innovative, fresh games that really stand out as a unique experience.

We’re only a few weeks away from the Game Developers Conference. Though Nintendo is not holding a keynote like last year, it’s still possible that some announcement will be made. There have been rumors floating about that they might change the name of the Wii U and we know from before that Nintendo’s considering making the Wii U able to have multiple tablets instead of just one per system.  Whether it becomes reality or not remains to be seen. I for one, really hope so.

  • Joe

    A++++++++ on that Super Wii remote concept.

    • Rakshael

      I have to agree. I feel that more buttons are necessary in Nintendo's schematics… their controllers are somewhat bare.

      • UnholySanctuary

        And not to mention, the distance between said buttons can also complicate things. I like my buttons all within reach.

      • Chloe

        I really like my buttons in reach too, I was playing on my N64 i got for Christmas, and I didn't like the fact the B button was out of reach (Because i was playing OoT), It REALLY bothered me.

  • ZeldaPlaya

    All we can do is wait. Wait till the GDC and e3 2012 and see what happens

  • keno

    "Super Wii" remote

  • X-com

    "Super Wii" remote looks ugly…. why cann't we just use a GC pad?

  • sabby64

    Why can't we just go back to controllers!! >_<

    • Rosalina

      Or at least give us the option of using a regular controller for those who want to choose. I was a bit annoyed that I had to fork out extra money to buy a Motion Plus controller (because my old one broke) just to play Skyward Sword, when I have a regular 'classic' controller and a Gamecube controller. It would have been great to be able to jsut use them, instead of taking another $50 chunk out of my paycheck.

  • Sratrawder

    how could you not know it was a new console? Iwata said it like 30 times!

    • Jarmihi

      Do you think a casual gamer has any idea who Iwata is?

  • Darkfares

    i liked the name "The Nintendo Stream"

    • TriforceofCourage

      haha good thing they didn't call it the "Wii stream"

  • Hank Hill

    @ the multiplayer section: local multiplayer is never really that great anyway
    @ the HUD/Focus section: get your own tv? not very hard to find nowadays.
    @ Super Wii Remote: no. the motion stuff was cute for a while but it is very limiting and it makes for a lot of gimmicky games, I tell you hwhat

    i'm gonna wait on the Wii U for a few months to a year just to see how it does.

    • Anon

      You call Skyward Sword's motion controls gimmicky? Well, not to impose, but my opinion is that it's motion controls in its best and truest form to date. Only problem is that it came to late, much like how MM came too late…

  • Wallha

    the good news: it can't possibly be worse than the Wii ended up being.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BigKeyChest BigKeyChest

      BUT.
      Nintendo might fail a lot with this.
      Remember that the wii outsold PS3 and 360 every year that it was out.
      I don't know if wii U can do that

  • Kyle

    Remember when Wii was code named "Nintendo: Revolution"? Why don't they call the Wii U that? It would signify it's a new console and give the impression it's revolutionizing the gaming industry once again.

  • http://czsworld.webs.com/ Zac

    It's not.

    • ZeldaFan

      The new controller does make some big changes. The screen itself already makes the big difference.

  • TnzSki

    Personally, I have faith in Nintendo. I doubt that they will make such grave marketing errors as Hombre suggests. And since I can't do anything about it, my only option is to have confidence that Nintendo won't release a console that's crap.

  • A_LINK_IN_TIME

    Go back one full cycle and call it Nintendo Revolution. Problem solved.

  • Uppy

    Rather than being sceptical and complain about a console or a controller no one here has even tried yet, why not just be excited at what the prospect of what the new console will bring?

    It seems that only nintendo fans, especially zelda fans are notoriously picky, finicky and seem to always complain about what they don’t like rather than praise what they do like.

    I have been a nintendo fan for 25 years, longer than most of you have Adey alive I am sure and in my opinion they have made some terrible decisions in the past, the visual boy anyone? But when it comes to home consoles they rarely mess that up. Nintendo always make comfortable and ergonomic controllers that offers the best controls for each system and I doubt that will change. Have a little Faith that nintendo know what they are doing and stop complaining so much.

    Also, anyone here who thinks skyward sword would be better with traditional controls are utterly wrong.

  • Uppy

    “I have been a nintendo fan for 25 years, longer than most of you have been alive I am sure”

    I apologize for my phones autocorrect bs.

  • Keimori

    I agree, I think the name is going to be a real big problem if they don’t change it; I've had such a hard time explaining to non-gamers that the 3DS is a completely new system just because of its name.
    Let’s be honest, casual consumers are, for the lack of a better term, "stupid", they don't even want to think about the superior internal components of the system or the HDMI ports or *insert hardware step up here*.
    All they care about is the "newness" of a system and, unfortunately, can't see that it's new if the name sounds old.

  • CJ!

    points seen. answer: yes and now. agree with pints, but not with your fix. I like the tablet. I don't want them giveing up on that. cirtain attachments fit cirtain kinds of games. so, you get the attachment that fits the kinds of game you like to play. odds are you're not gunna be going to get a bunch of games from other kinds unless you just play what ever, even if thier wasn't a need for a new attacjment to play those other kinds of game.
    corse when I say "you" I'm not talking about you you know, just gamers in general. though I do hope they just make it possibly to use multiple tablets with one Wii U.

  • Jehona

    I don't think its so much that Nintendo doesn't know what direction they want to go in so much as Nintendo wants to go in EVERY possible direction so as to sell to the widest range of demographics possible and exclude no one – not your newborn baby and not your great-grandma.

    I do believe the Wii U name needs to be changed. It doesn't sound like a new system. I think I've been burned out with all the constant upgrading with the DS systems and then the barest hints that the 3DS was a new handheld system entirely to the point that I can't get excited. It really stinks.

    The tablet really does have a lot of potential as a very useful gaming tool in conjunction with Motion Plus, but I worry about what looks to be a transfer back to traditional controls. I do not want traditional controls back! I also feel motion control isn't really moving in the directions it could be going, either.

    Something I really liked in Phantom Hourglass and in Spirit Tracks was the ability to scribble notes on the map. THAT would be an interesting feature for a console Zelda game, don't you think? Using the pad to take notes and shift out items (I feel like I'm starting to describe the basis of a large-sized 3DS though…hrm…) away from the main screen. …Assuming we'd need to scribble notes with all of Nintendo recent hand-holding. Here's looking at you, Fi!

    "Super Wii" remote concept is interesting. A couple more buttons could add flexibility to the controls if done well. I don't really like to be constricted to "sword/shield + one item at a time", although I think that's more common to the LoZ series. I prefer Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker's "sword/shield + three items at a time".

    • Anon

      I agree with what you say, although I feel that motion controls+tablet+focusing on a TV, IS going to be a problem. If you use a wiimote with the tablet, you can do motion controls fine, but then how are you going to use the tablet? Also, if there's no screen/sensor bar then how would you use motion controls. If you use motion controls and the screen, that's just Wii+HD, if you use the tablet and the screen, concentration problems?

      Too many cooks spoil the broth. I don't think a handheld console(what I'd like to think the Wii U is) would be very good

  • ZeldaForever2000

    Well, the Wii U really needs to change name, Super Wii sounds nice, but why just don't call it Revolution, that's kickass!

    The tablet controller doesn't really needs to be scrapped, its a pretty inovative idea and could be helpful. The Super Wii controller, well i REALLY liked Skyward Sword motion controls, and the controls work generally well in each game (that developers put passion in) and, well here's my troubles with the Super Wii controller, the Gamecube layout is big for the Wii controller and could be uncomfortable , a second trigger in the Wiimote could also be akward specially if your used to the Wiimote, also the Super Wii controller could make be another Wii , it could have more refined controls, but, it will be NOTHING new, and it could make the consumers think that its nothing new and make it EVEN WORSE.

    Nintendo wants to innovate as always and he tablet controller its a great idea it only needs to be refined and finished, just change name, make publicity that showcases in general the controller,and make at least avaible this controller

  • ChainofTermina

    ……your Dad likes to watch WHAT??????

  • Twilit_Dragon

    That's a stupid saying, "Why did we buy another wii when we have one?" Duh you can't play the new games on the regular wii moron.

  • Error

    I agree, the name and look of the console is only going to confuse the heck out of consumers. Every time I visit my local Toys R Us I have to hear the same poor clerk try to explain the 3DS to a mother or grandmother who thinks it's the same thing as a DS only in 3D.

  • PeacefullyCrazy

    I'm skeptical to. Bigger, expensive, HD DS if you ask me.

  • B_2

    Well I would say wait until E3 and hear about all the details then judge on what you would like to change!

  • dylantalon

    90 percent of wii games would have been better with a traditional controller such as the wavebird or retro controller. the controls in zelda skyward sword is also rubbish just like in a lot of other games. fighting with a controller is not my idea as fun. the wii u is using a tablet controller which is a step in the right direction because its very similar to tradition controllers with its button lay out but the console will also rely on the old wiimote setup for multiplayer play which is rubbish. the wii u is rubbish as i see it.

  • Andrew

    ill go for zelda hd and super smash bros. game mainly, but also wii u will bring what wii didnt have: a -close to- normal controller, so that developers will feel more comfortable making games for wii u….

  • Boby

    Totally agree with this article. And regarding confusion, it just happened recently to me with Skyward Sword. I never had a Motion Plus becasue there are only a few games that use it and I'm not interested in any of those, until Zelda SS… but I thought it was optional, so I bought the game and the first time I tried to play it… surprise!!! it was very frustraiting!

  • Andrew

    First, I too am concerned that the two controller functions (serving as a secondary viewpoint and being the primary play screen instead of the tv) are at odds. If I’m using the tablet for my inventory, then I’d rather not forsake that to free up the tv… The other points are a bit rubbish, though. Nintendo is already talking about a name change, and developers have demanded the use of more than one tablet controller, so even though it might cost a lot, you’ll be able to play local multiplayer. I have to wonder if a new Wiimote and nunchuck will be included with the system, though, since the demos relied so heavily on them. We’ll see if any developers end up supporting wiimotes (I’d skip it…), but I think it’s primarily a friendly way to entice wii owners to make the switch, so they feel like they didn’t waste money buying all those peripherals. That’s mostly for moms and grandparents, though. I feel like Nintendo might be the only ones puttin out any games with Wiimote support (except for party game shovelware), since they’ve already pledged to with Zelda, and Smash Bros will probably be best with the Classic Pro… Everyone seems to forget that what sold the Wii was Wii Sports, Fit, Mario Olympics, Mario Kart, new super Mario bros, and the various dance/workout games. If Nintendo can launch with a killer app pack in title that revolutionizes tablet gaming, and then keeps the casual stuff coming, the WiiNu will sell well.