At 10 AM EST this morning, Reggie Fils-Aime took to the stage at a private Wii U preview event in New York City to give attendees and viewers of its live stream the biggest taste of the console yet. Here are the major highlights:
- The release date is confirmed to be November 18, 2012.
- Two configurations will be available – the “Basic Set” costs $299, will come in white, and includes the console, Game Pad, AC adapters for both, a high-speed HDMI cable, and sensor bar. The “Deluxe Set” costs $349, comes in black, and contains everything from the Basic Set, in addition to extra storage memory, a charging cradle for the Game Pad, a stand for the Game Pad and Sensor Bar, and Nintendo Land software. Deluxe buyers can also earn credits from digital downloads in a manner similar to Club Nintendo rewards.
- The Wii U will work with most current Wii controllers and accessories, and Wii U-branded WiiMotes and Nunchuks will be sold on store shelves after the console’s release.
- Nintendo Land will contain 12 unique attractions, including a Metroid attraction that includes four game modes. One of them, Blast Mission, was demonstrated on-stage, and is a co-op wave-based mode. One player can play as Samus while the other controls her ship, providing fire support from the air as well as a grapple point for Samus to move around the field. Other modes include a ground vs. air competitive mode, and a ground-only free-for-all mode. A Mario attraction was also shown, albeit very briefly, and the on-stage demonstrator mentioned it has a very “under-appreciated soundtrack”.
- Several more details were revealed about New Super Mario Bros. U. Aside from being able to play as your Mii in certain modes and an inter-connected game world, there are a couple of new game modes planned to be included: Boost Rush, a sort of speed run mode, where players race through scrolling levels. Players can collect coins to improve their score, but it also causes the stage to scroll by faster, increasing the difficulty. The game will also include a Challenge mode, where players will have to get through levels while fulfilling certain conditions, such as beating the level within a time limit, or without touching the ground, among many others. Players can also share their progress and leave tips on MiiVerse.
- Limited quantities of Lego City: Undercover will include a miniature Lego figurine of the main character, Chase McCain.
- Reggie alluded to three “pillars” that support the Wii U experience, with one of them previously being known simply as “entertainment”. He expanded on this today, revealing the Nintendo TVii service to be included with all Wii U consoles, and it’s jam-packed with features.
- The service will allow owners to not only watch TV, movies, and sports on their Wii U console, but also interact with their media in ways a TV alone can’t.
- The central feature to TVii is the personalized guide, which allows you to browse TV, movies, and sports, both on TV and through on-demand services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus. A favorites list allows you to track your favorites while automatically receiving recommendations based on what you like. These lists are saved to each Mii profile, so everyone in the house can maintain their own list of favorites.
- Most exciting, however, are the unique features TVii brings to the table; you can use the Game Pad’s screen to interact with extra media for the program you’re currently watching. For TV, you can see highlights from previously in the current episode, so you won’t miss a thing even if you tune in late. You can also post to Twitter, Facebook, and MiiVerse about the show, share your emotions at the current moment in the show, and take part in polls. For movies, the second screen shows reviews and trailers on the fly, and while watching sports, grants immediate access to stats, player information, and plays. You can also see all team scores in a league at a glance, with your favorite teams appearing first.
- The second screen also houses a radial remote, with literally dozens of controls.
- TVii will have access to web-based video such as YouTube.
- Finally, TVii will be included for free with all Wii U consoles, at no monthly charge.
- Games are still the central element, and Reggie took the time to highlight some of the titles coming within the initial launch period, including:
- Two titles from Platinum Games: Bayonetta 2, a Wii U exclusive, and The Wonderful 101, a super hero game.
- Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, available on both the Wii U and 3DS in March 2013. Players can progress simultaneously between both platforms, so owners of the game can play the same save file at home and on the go.
- Activision had several games on display, including Skylanders Giants, Wipeout 3, 007 Legends, and Transformers Prime. However, the main star of their presentation was Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
- A live stage demo followed with two players facing off against AI opponents, a first in the CoD franchise and a guaranteed feature included with the game.
- The map, “Cargo”, a shipyard located in Singapore, showed how far the game’s graphics and sense of realism have come.
- One of the most revolutionary elements for the Wii U version is the change in Split Screen play: one player can play on the main TV display while the other can play from the display on the Game Pad. While the demo only included two players, it’s safe to assume more players can join in, each playing on their own Game Pad screen. Players on the main screen can instead use their Game Pad screen to see a map, choose loadouts, and call in win streaks via touch controls.
- The game will work with all supported controllers, including the WiiMote and Nunchuk and the Pro controller. No word yet on if WiiMote / Nunchuk users will have aim controls similar to those in Call of Duty 4 on the Wii.
- Aside from the demo, the game’s single-player campaign will have a branching, non-linear storyline.
- Zombies were promised, but no details have been revealed yet.
- Reggie closes the event by stating that, while no details are available yet for exactly when these games will be released, he can guarantee they will be available in the launch window of November 2012 – March 2013, and will be the “strongest launch line-up of any home console yet”.
And there you have it – the most solid details yet for a highly revolutionary new console. It’s very likely this will be the last press event before the console is released on November 18, but Reggie and the Nintendo of America team have certainly given us a lot to be excited for!
What was your favorite announcement from the Preview Event? Let us know!