After teasing some information about their upcoming Wii U console on Sunday night, Nintendo pulled back the curtains at their conference Tuesday morning. Gaming giant Shigeru Miyamoto officially unveiled the Wii U with a mission to make it the "first screen" people go to in their living room.
With the Wii U, Nintendo finally provides high-definition gaming capabilites on par with the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but Wii products have never been primarily about graphics. The new tablet-based controller lends to more strategic opportunites, giving users a second screen to complement traditional television gaming.
Nintendo president Reggie Fils-Aime lauded his new console's gaming and communication capabilites, though cautioned that he couldn't unveil all aspects of the system during the one-hour conference.
With Microsoft and Sony's online communites several years developed, Nintendo has been behind the times. Fils-Aime attempted to bridge that gap with Miiverse, an online community centered around the Mii avatars. The Miiverse would stretch from Wii U to the portable 3DS, and players can interact with each other through the course of gameplay. Fils-Aime demonstrated the features in a trailer for New Super Mario Bros. U, another entry in the 2D franchise.
Third-party support has long dogged the Wii, and Nintendo address the issue with several examples of non-Nintendo titles -- like tablet-enhanced versions of Batman: Arkham City, Scribblenauts, and Darksiders II.
Notably, EA's Mass Effect franchise makes its Nintendo debut with Wii U, with Mass Effect 3 displayed in a short tralier of upcoming titles.
Fils-Aime also explored the Wii U's contribution to theWii Fit franchise. In WiiFit U, players use the tablet controller alongside the original board controller to interact with exercise-themed minigames.
Music games got their turn with Sing, a karaoke-themed title that display lyrics using the controller. Being "with the times", Nintendo chose to use "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen in their trailer, to the clear disdain of the assembled audience.
Nintendo 3DS owners had a few bones thrown their way, with another New Super Mario Bros title, a Paper Mario title, an Epic Mickey sequel, and a Luigi's Mansion sequel among others.
The Wii brand has faded in recent years, and it was difficult to imagine how Nintendo could reignite passion with an updated version of the Wii and a tablet-based controller. Unfortunately, their press conference couldn't even meet that standard. Presenters felt stitled and dispassionate, most titles were retreads of other games, and the Nintendoland theme park hub drew sarcastic laughter from the audience.
Of course, it is unwise to write Nintendo off completely, as demonstrated by the company's initial Wii success. But there was nothing in their press conference to inspire the gaming audience, nor enough to justify a yet-unrevealed price tag for the Wii U console. All three companies appear to be treading water right now, and Nintendo is barely staying afloat.