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Wii U: Why it'll be a genuine game-changer

Forget the naysayers, argues Nintendo Gamer

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As such, it might initially appear to lack focus. But it's designed to be a machine for everybody. Miyamoto is particularly keen to ensure it has as wide a range of features as possible; during the controller's development, he strongly opposed those who wanted to simplify the interface.

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"Bold, but cautious, I have to be," he claimed, doing his best Yoda impression. "Not one of our customers is the same, so I think about it from the point of view of someone who has dealt with games for years, and at the same time I also think about how it will appear to people who have never played games. [The controller] has a touch-screen here, and you can see information on it at any time that won't appear on the TV. Because it has its screen, it's become much easier to understand, and we thought in that case, we'd stuff it with features so it could do anything." In other words, a secondary display with touch-screen capabilities for casual players, buttons and sticks for the core. Bingo! Everyone's happy.

ONLINE, ALL THE TIME

Of course, a world-beating feature-set means little if you don't have the developers to make the most of it, but the beauty of Wii U is that it's much more welcoming to third parties. And particularly - gasp - when it comes to online. Reggie says Wii U offers "an extremely robust online experience", while Iwata says Nintendo now "has a policy of adapting itself to changes in the network environment in a flexible fashion rather than the one of sticking toa rigid mechanism."

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Sure, these are lines we've been fed before, only for Nintendo to tentatively dip its toe into Wi-Fi waters when it should be wading in with both feet. But by comparison, Wii U represents a sprint through the shallows and a headlong plunge into deeper waters. Don't just take Nintendo's word for it: third parties are lining up to praise their commitment to online. EA'sPeter Moore talked of a "really extensive" online setup, claiming "Nintendo has recognised the future is connected. The future is online. The future is about building powerful communities."

Hang on - communities? We've already seen Nintendo exploring that idea in Mario Kart 7. You'll be seeing a lot more of it on Wii U. Nintendo Network is a good start, but it's third parties who will be able to capitalise. Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software, creators of Aliens: Colonial Marines, says that: "It would feel unnatural for us to commit such an effort for this game [if Wii U didn't] offer the online functionality that you expect," and Ubisoft wouldn't be releasing Ghost Recon Online as a launch title for Wii U if they weren't confident of its infrastructure.

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Nintendo has recognised the future is connected...

Iwata is even ready to allow third parties to use microtransactions. "As a hardware manufacturer, or platform holder, it would be better to present third-party developers with as much freedom as possible. We plan to ensure a relative level of flexibility for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U software compatible with the Nintendo Network as long as the developer has built a trusting relationship with consumers." With the additional promise of same-day digital releases for all retail games, this demonstrates a commitment to the online space we've not seen before from Nintendo. That the setup is less rigid than, for example, Microsoft's guidelines for Xbox Live, is set to be another key factor in attracting third-party support.

It helps, of course, that Wii U is an easy machine to work with. Discussing the nature of porting Darksiders 2 code from Other Formats, Vigil Games' associate producer Jay Fitzloff said "[it's] not as challenging as you might think. Getting it working was not any issue on the Wii U. When we first got it up and running, you can have the game download to and run on the pad, and everybody was like, that could take a while. It took two lines of code and five minutes."

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