Wii U: “Tweeting” To The Wii(Mii)Verse
When one thinks of the Wii U, the first image to come to mind is that of its tremendous, unwieldy controller with its generous touchscreen. Less prevalent has been the system’s online features, which are a breakthrough for Nintendo, but may have seemed “same old” to the vast majority of Internet-enabled Xbox 360 and PS3 users. Satoru Iwata’s pre-E3 address, however, has shed some light on the Wii U’s surprising social features, and how they will alter and inform one’s gameplay experience.
The MiiVerse (or WiiVerse, as Iwata alternates between the two) is the pervasive social networking suite that permeates the entire Wii U experience, on or off. From the moment one boots the system, one’s screen is inundated with the Miis from one’s own system and connected friends, regardless of whether their systems are on or off. This segues into a Twitter-esque feed of input from other users, a community to which one can post for advice or commiseration directly from the console, but can read through other devices (such as a mobile phone). It can transition smoothly into video chat, using the camera on the Wii U’s controller, and further allows for comments to be posted in games themselves, much like the commentary system by which players interact with one another in From Software’s Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls.
One’s comments don’t simply cease to be when the system is off, either; the Wii U is constantly connected, or at least can be, lending itself to what Nintendo hopes will be a social experience even in single-player. All of this is a big step for Nintendo, but is it really so different from this generation’s existing services on the Xbox 360 and PS3? As though in a nod to the Vita, the “Nintendo Network” will be a subset of the ‘verse that connects various Nintendo hardware together, such as the 3DS and the Wii U, though Nintendo also intends for it to function with future generations of hardware.
The buzzword in Nintendo’s broadcast was “unique.” Is it truly unique, though, if everything being shown has, in some manner, been seen before? Perhaps not, but the truth of that statement won’t be weighed until the Mii(Wii)Verse is seen in context.
By Shelby Reiches