Nintendo’s webcast yesterday didn’t spend much time talking about the Wii U features that we want to know about most (i.e. the games,) but they did reveal some neat features of the system hardware itself: the WiiPad has been redesigned to be more comfortable for extended use, and it was confirmed that the controller can function as a TV remote and has Skylanders-esque built in Near Field Communication capabilities. Nintendo’s biggest announcement of the day, however, was Miiverse, a new service that basically turns the Wii’s old Mii plaza into a sort of gaming focused social network.
In addition to the usual pointless trading and creating on Mii avatars, Miiverse will allow Wii U users to post messages to a sort of Facebook/Twitter-esque timeline. Players can post text messages and screenshots and video clips recorded from their playtime, and they can even stream their live gameplay and invite their friends to watch. Eagle eyed viewers of Nintendo’s livestream even noticed that video for Miiverse seemingly unintentionally gave away the existence of some sort of Wii U achievements system.
Miiverse will apparently be accessible at any time while playing a game on the Wii U, as Nintendo demonstrated that players will be able to exchange messages and video chat with their Miiverse friends while they’re playing a game simultaenously.
It’s a pretty ambitious undertaking for the previously online-phobic Nintendo, but they’ve been saying for a long time that they were going to start taking online games seriously, and judging by the amount of features that are built in to Miiverse plaza, it looks like they’ve at least laid down the groundwork for what might be a robust online network. Now, how about some games worth playing on that network?
I suppose we’ll find out more about Miiverse, as well as hopefully some actual Wii U games, when Nintendo has their real press conference on Tuesday morning.