Whether you subscribe to Pitchford's comments that "Wii U is a next-generation system... a more powerful machine" than Other Formats, or are more ready to believe the more sober assessment of Vigil Games' Marvin Donald that, "the hardware's on par with what we have with the current generations," it seems pretty clear that Wii U is not going to compete on a technical level with whatever Sony andMicrosoft are planning. Which means, in all likelihood, Wii U will occupy the same place as Wii has for this last generation.
The appeal of this is obvious: with spiralling development costs sending all kinds of software houses out of business, it's only going to be the enormo-publishers that can comfortably stretch their budgets to exploit the power of Wii U's rivals when they arrive late next year. That leaves smaller developers with bigger and/or riskier ideas to throw their lot in with Nintendo. The next generation's No More Heroes, Zack and Wiki and Trauma Center will all be on Wii U - not necessarily those franchises, but equally weird and wonderful ideas. For those who've spent a generation getting to grips with Xbox 360 and PS3, the idea of a console that works in a similar way will be a godsend.
But friendly hardware isn't the half of it. Developers are wide-eyed about the possibilities of Wii U. Pitchford has waxed lyrical about the controller's flexibility for Aliens: Colonial Marines, in particular the touch-screen. "It gives us some interface options that just don't exist on the other platforms. The most obvious one of course is the motion tracker... the [alert] sound is actually coming from the controller!" he enthuses. "And when I'm playing competitive [online multiplayer] sometimes I like to look at the score but I hate having to cover the screen with an overlay. Well, guess what? I ca nlook down at the Wii U screen and keep the score there."
If anyone can show us how powerful Wii U really is, it's Nintendo...
And if Wii U is making online multiplayer more flexible, it's completely transforming local play. Some have complained that one tablet controller isn't enough, but then those people probably haven't experienced Battle Mii or Chase Mii, two enormously convincing arguments for the brilliance of asymmetrical play. This isn't the first time Nintendo has explored competitive gaming of this kind - remember Pac-Man Vs? - but this is the first time it'll be accessible to everyone out of the box. You can expect to see Wii U demo units in stores and on tours before its release because for once playing really is believing. In its ability to convey this simple idea, Chase Mii in particular could be to Wii U whatWii Sports' tennis was to Wii Yes, that important.
Yet while it's exciting to think of the new experiences we're going to get on Wii U, that shallow graphics obsessive in all of us just wants to see Nintendo games in HD. If anyone can show us how powerful Wii U really is, it's Nintendo. The two Mario Galaxy games were a cut above just about anything else on Wii- marry that technical know-how with the extra potency of new hardware, and our mouths water just thinking of the possibilities.
It may not be easy to win over the doubters (though by the time you read this, we're sure a few will have been swayed by Nintendo's E3 showing). "It is our intention to satisfy a wider audience with one gaming platform," says a bold, bullish Iwata. Time will tell whether Nintendo achieves that goal. But one thing's for sure: it's going to be an exciting journey.