Ten things Nintendo should do with Wii U

Nintendo is a company that has seen its fair share of good times and bad times in the recent decade, but things look to be on the up. 3DS is selling well of late, Wii U is on the horizon, and with plenty of games to look forward to on the 3DS and even Wii (ok, so maybe just few for Wii), this year is looking very strong for Nintendo fans. With confirmations from Sony and Microsoft that there would be no new system announcements from either company at E3 2012, it looks like Wii U could steal the show. If Nintendo wants to once again dominate the console space, here is what they should do with Wii U.

Gain massive support from third-party publishers


As long as Nintendo keeps making Nintendo games (Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, etc.)the Nintendo faithful will buy the system. Having a strong lineup of AAA franchises is one of Nintendo’s biggest strengths, but on the other hand, being unable to convince many developers to continue to release quality games is perhaps its greatest weakness. If Nintendo wants this to change with Wii U, they must take steps to ensure the platform is attractive to publishers and developers alike.

Despite what Nintendo will tell you, WiiWare was not quite a smashing success. Part of the reason for that may have been that developers were hesitant to put games on the service, because of the huge barrier to entry on the service, one of them being that to even begin receiving money for games on the service, a game must meet a certain sales threshold.

Nintendo should be throwing dev kits at any developer that wants to get a hold of one. The more companies that want to develop for Wii U and its online store the better. Nintendo also has to show why its attractive to develop for their platform as opposed or in addition to any console from Microsoft, Sony, or even Apple. Cost to license a game should be on par, or better than what can be done on a Sony or Microsoft box, and if Nintendo wishes to compete with what Apple has done with their iOS devices, Nintendo needs to implement some sort of 99¢ model that is developer friendly, that will put more money if the devs pockets. Nintendo can still make their money, but the lion’s share should go to the developers.

Switch design from two circle pads to two thumb sticks

While the Circle pad is perfect and even perhaps preferred for the 3DS, on a console, thumb sticks have become the norm. I like my 3DS circle pad, but it is not quite as precise as a traditional thumb stick, and I think hardcore gamers will be turned off because of it. Sure, you could get used to it, but why should that be necessary?

Why it shouldn’t be too difficult, developers will have to custom tune control schemes just to accommodate for the circle pad. Games designed to work for consoles with sticks may be harder to bring over to Wii U because of this, and the lack of a click-in joystick button. While it certainly won’t be a deal breaker for developers, it may limit what they can do with the system.

As far as dual-stick controllers go, Gamecube has always been my favorite, despite the non-traditional button layout. Hey Nintendo, just slap in a few of the old Gamecube joystick parts you have laying around and call it a day. Better yet, add in one of those fancy joystick click-in buttons that all the cool kids are talking about.

Wii U tablet needs a multi-touch screen

Let’s face it, Apple with its iPhone changed the way the world views a touchscreen. When the DS arrived in 2004, the prospect of owning a device with a touchscreen was novel, and just the ability to touch stylus to screen and watch as a line was drawn to create a path for Kirby was mind blowing. Sure, there had been other stylus based devices on the market (the PalmPilot comes to mind), but never before had one been as affordable, or catered specifically for gaming.

Fast forward to 2007 when Apple unveils its iPhone, and everything is changed forever. Now, most everyone has some sort of touch screen device, and just about all of them are multi-touch. People will go into their first experience with Wii U expecting to pinch-to-zoom, to touch two on-screen buttons at once, to use swiping gestures learned on iOS and Android devices. If these things are suddenly not possible because of the limited tech on the Wii U tablet, I can imagine it would anger more than just a few consumers.

Mario needs to be a launch title


It has been a few consoles now that we have had to wait for a Mario title, because there wasn’t one available at launch. Looking back to the N64 and SNES, the two Mario titles were more or less the games that defined their respective consoles. Nintendo needs to show the world why they need a Wii U, and a Mario title is just the way to do it.

If there is one thing Nintendo has always done well, it has been to play to the strengths of their consoles. Nobody takes advantage to their hardware as they have been able to. With that in mind, Wii U is so unique that finding good usage for the features of the console may not be as apparent to other developers. If Nintendo can show what Wii U is all about by doing things that have never been done before in gaming through a Mario title, it will solidify the existence of the console to many gamers, and help create an instant install base of long time Nintendo fans that recognize Nintendo’s most iconic mascot.

Wii U should include a pack-in game

Or better yet, Nintendo could include it as a free Nintendo Network download, to help stimulate the systems online economy. No one for certain would know the exact numbers, perhaps outside of Nintendo, but I would wager that a huge percentage of people bought a Wii, and were content to just play Wii Sports. And that’s it. Nintendo need something like this again to sell systems, and get the system into households.

Lucky for Nintendo, they already have exactly that in the E3 2011 tech demos Battle Mii, Chase Mii, and Find Mii were all fantastic showpieces of what to expect with Wii U. Add in another game or two and you have a reason for millions of people to drop the money for the system. Each game was a great example of what the Wii U tablet was all about, and would be a fantastic tool to teach people how to use the system.

Much improved online infrastructure


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve played Wii online, but I can bet you can count all the times in less than three digits. I don’t know the percentage of games purchased from online services such as Steam and Xbox Live that I have purchased from WiiWare, but I would guess less than 10%. Why exactly the Nintendo Wifi service was far inferior to other like services is a topic for another post, but Nintendo must improve to stay relevant.

The Nintendo Network is supposed to address many of these issues, but until the time when we can test it for ourselves, it will be unknown how the network compares to other services. The ability to download title updates, be it roster updates or balancing patches is also a must. I would certainly pay $50-$60 a year if it meant a more stable online client that was faster, and actually worked. Yeah, I’m looking at you Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

An achievement/trophy like system

They’re addicting. I never thought I would catch it, and didn’t at first, but I have the achievement hunting bug. I don’t know why, I don’t earn anything tangible in game, not even a discount on the online store, but once you see that number going up, it can be hard to stop trying to make it do so. This is something that should be relatively easy to implement, and is something Nintendo fans have been crying for.

It could be as simple as giving you and actual number, perhaps you could earn coins from each games accomplishments. Nintendo could also go the Sony route, and assign a different ‘trophy’ to each accomplishments difficulty level. Finished the first level of a platformer? Awesome, take a mushroom achievement. Beat Metroid on the highest difficulty? That one’s worth a triforce.

Get Nintendo’s best franchises into Nintendo’s best developers

What are the best games Nintendo has created in the last decade? Retro would probably get mention, for creating the Metroid Prime series. On the handheld front, Camelot has made a name for itself for curating the Golden Sun franchise across two different handhelds, and has also done will on the home consoles with the Mario Sports line. Fact is, Nintendo has more talent in their other dev houses than they do at Nintendo HQ in Japan.

Why not give some of them major franchises to work with? The Legend of Zelda: Wii U developed by Retro? I’ll take two. How about Star Fox: Finally Just Arwings created by Next Level Games? Mario will probably always be developed inside Nintendo, but who’s to say that some other capable developers shouldn’t be given the chance?

Adequate storage capacity out of the box

512MB isn’t going to cut it. We need to be talking at least 16GB, standard, if Wii U is going to compete. DLC and even gameplay patches are almost standard at 1GB each. Throw in game demos, save files, and the rumored downloadable apps, and you can see why it will be necessary to have adequate storage space.

Nintendo seems keen to allow consumers to purchase their own flash memory, in the form of SD cards, but they could go one step further and allow the use of a USB external hard drive. At that point, gamers could decide exactly how much space they need, while still not alienating customers who choose not to by providing the 16GB of space straight out of the box.

Change the name of Wii U to…Something

Super Wii, Ultra Nintendo, simply just Nintendo, any of those are better than Wii U. If you like the name, fine. I don’t, and think it will be confusing to parents at WalMart looking to buy a gift for Christmas.

32 Responses to Ten things Nintendo should do with Wii U

  1. gabriev says:

    Actually your right on “most” of what you said… But two things to consider when it comes to Wii U that you overlooked in its design.

    One) Circle pads are used for a reason, its not because they want you to use the crapy design (actually its not as cheep of a design as 3DS), the reason they didn’t make them thumb sticks was because it was two cumbersome to get your thumbs back ontop of the thumbstick after reaching across portions of the screen since you will be using your thumbs to do most operations. You will constantly be knocking the stick to the left on the left side or knocking the right stick to the right with your thumb, that’s an undesirable effect in a fast paced game. Also Because the pads are on top of the screen, raising your thumbs higher than the rest of the controller causes to much fatigue on the thumb joints at the base of the hand.

    Two) in order to have multi touch you need to take into account several more problems that arise. With multi touch you need a processor to process multiple pressure points and perfinger directional distant calculations, this causes lag, the frame rate between console to controller is right now .05microseconds, the processor inside the console does all the calculations and streams over air waves video to the same screen your pressing down on. Forcing the controller to operate independant calculations will cause memory fatigue. Another issue with multitouch is human grime. Oils on the hand build up readaly on the controller over wearer and tear, oil can act as an unwanted finger pressing the screen. Instead of pressing and swiping a whole menue or button from screen to TV you will get the “zoom” affect instead or the oil will cause another given option to coinside with the real option you choosed causing computational problems inside the core system, confusing it and increasing lag once again. Single touch pads are less affected because the last place pressed becomes the only place pressed and grime will be ineffective in game play.

    So while yes analog sticks are nice on the current controllers and multitouch is readly available, they are not great for the concept Nintendo went for.

  2. The Adza says:

    1. Up the specs. That’s all I ask.

  3. gabriev says:

    The fact that they will most likely use an ATIs varrient to Nvidias Kepler, you won’t have to worry about specs. it already holds strong @1080 60fps with original kits and that was like a 4800. They had ~6 months to improve specs.

  4. Richard says:

    Great points, Eugene! I’m on the fence about the multi-touch screen; the less my fingers get in my view, the better; I hate it when an iOS game wants me to perform some kind of dual-finger digit waltz. If it means as much as a $50 price difference on the console, I’d be happy with single touch and an alternate method to zoom, rotate, etc.

    I’ve played online on my Wii hundreds of times…but it’s all Mario Kart. That’s all. Online Brawl was a nightmare.

    I love the idea of including a free retail-quality game, but making folks download it, because 9 out of 10 Wii owners I personally know never, ever set up their Wiis to access anything online.

  5. EdEN says:

    Multi- touch screen would increase cost, and that’s a huuuge no-no.

    The$0.99 price is too low and Nintendo knows it, si that won’t happen.

    The Circle Pad like controls on Wii U, if the same as on 3DS, will do the job just fine.

    Other than that, I like what you did with the post.

  6. gojiguy says:

    UM.

    You forgot the MOST IMPORTANT thing Nintendo should do: remove the damn region lock.

    They’ve been receiving enough hatemail about the games they REFUSE to let us legally play. So why don’t they just act like Sony and, you know, be cool for once? Remove the region lock. Get with the times. Let us play the games we WANT to play!

  7. Kaherka says:

    I disagree with the thumbstick thing. Circle pads are actually better than thumbsticks. They should be the new industry standard.

    Everything else you wrote is pretty spot on.

    I also think they should get rid of region lock.

  8. Eugene Allen says:

    Seems like the thumbsticks/circle pad is a point of contention, but that’s what this post was all about, to generate discussion. What else does everyone want out of Wii U? I agree with gojiguy that region locking should go.

  9. monkat says:

    I would only buy a Wii U if these two things happen, and they won’t:

    1. Less than $200. Not going to happen because they wouldn’t price it the same as the 3DS, as well as the fact that they’d be selling at a pretty hefty loss, especially if they’re including memory. I just don’t have that much to shell out, and after being burned on the Wii, not to mention that whole Operation Moonfall debacle, I just can’t justify spending more than that.

    2. No region-locking. Not going to happen because Nintendo loves region-locking. It helps them keep track of sales, and helps them make sure that the proper region will profit at maximum capacity when a game releases.

  10. EdEN says:

    @Monkat: $200? Considering the tech inside and the cost of the tablet itself, you’re past “wishful thinking” and hace crossed to the “you so crazy” section. Lowewt they couldgo is $300, and that is already at a losa per unit sold.

    Also, why were you “burned on the Wii”? I could list 70 games you should have played but probably didn’t so you’re either being picky or too “harcorez lols”.

  11. Hitokiri_Ace says:

    Me and my artsy wife are excited about the drawing/editing potential of the WiiU. That is NOT possible with capacitive touch.

  12. Hyawatta says:

    Nintendo Wii U 3DS Controller

    There are a few upgrades that should be made to the Wii U controller before it is released and to the Nintendo 3DS for its next iteration. The Wii U controller should have a multi-touch capable screen, the ZL and ZR triggers should be analog with a click when pressed all the way down like on the Gamecube controller, and the circle pads should be clickable when you press down on them. Four Wii U controllers should be usable for simultaneous play on a single Wii U console so that games such a Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles and The Legend of Zelda Four Swords can be played. For example, Pac man Vs. only needed one player to have a screen, but these two games require all four players to each have their own screen. Also, if two players are playing Madden and they are picking their plays, they should both be able to choose from the display on their respective controllers. Without support for multiple Wii U controllers, playing these games online would be the only way for all players to take advantage of the subscreen.

    The Nintendo 3DS should have a second circle pad. We have seen games such as Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater and Splinter Cell 3D suffer because of the lack of a second circle pad, and they are resorting to using the buttons for camera control. The Circle Pad Pro solves this for the existing 3DS, but the next iteration needs it built in because the Nintendo 3DS needs a second circle pad in order to properly substitute as a Wii U controller. Games such as Battle Mii and Killer Freaks from Outer Space use both circle pads and the motion controls together at the same time as their control method. A Nintendo 3DS would not be able to replicate this in its current state. For better functionality as a Wii U controller, the Nintendo 3DS should have a wide screen, 16:9, aspect ratio for its bottom touch screen. Also, just as the Wii U controller should have clickable circle pads, clickable ZL/ZR triggers, and a multi-touch capable screen, so should the Nintendo 3DS. If necessary for a new iteration of the Nintendo 3DS, it would be worth losing the backwards compatibility with the DS in order to have complete functionality with the Wii U. It would also be nice to have rumble capability for the 3DS. A setting to turn it on or off would be sufficient. It should not be too much to ask for since smartphones have rumble and implement it pretty well in their games already.

    Once all of these features are implemented, there will be nothing to stop players from using the 3DS as additional Wii U controllers. More multiplayer options will be readily available. Developers can create games that are built for multiple Wii U controllers without worrying that people will not be able to use the feature. Virtual Console and eShop games can be played on both the Wii U and the 3DS without any need to alter the controls. This would be especially useful for a game like Animal Crossing. I would love to play it on my 3DS while I’m out and load it up on the Wii U when I get home. If multiple players do the same thing, we can effectively play by ourselves during the day and come together, on the big screen, in the evening.

  13. droop4 says:

    These are all valid points but i think multi touch is THE most important to them all. With the iPad, iPhones, and iPod touch screens setting the bar for touch screen, and seeing how popular they are (everyone and their moms have one), not having multitouch displays would be a HUGE disappointment for everyone.

  14. Billman64 says:

    I want Nintendo to implement clickable circle pads, so that they’re not behind in any aspect of their controls. Like when you dash in PS3 Call of Duty. Also, a clickable circle pad could feel like an arcade button.

  15. Nin3DS says:

    Gain massive support from third-party publishers

    They have as far as I can tell. That’s what the Wii U seems to be doing well at if the announcements made so far are accurate.

    Switch design from two circle pads to two thumb sticks

    Don’t care, it works for me.

    Wii U tablet needs a multi-touch screen

    Definitely. I’m surprised the 3DS didn’t have one to be honest.

    Mario needs to be a launch title

    Obviously. Most successful Nintendo systems to date have had it as one, while the failures haven’t.

    Wii U should include a pack-in game

    Agreed. See, the Mario game mentioned above.

    Much improved online infrastructure

    Don’t particularly care as long as friend codes are gone. I don’t download games much.

    An achievement/trophy like system

    Nah, these were annoying enough in Brawl as is, I don’t want even more in every other Nintendo game.

    Get Nintendo’s best franchises into Nintendo’s best developers

    Agreed.

    Adequate storage capacity out of the box

    Agreed.

    Change the name of Wii U to…Something

    I don’t care about the name. It’s a name and that’s it.

  16. EdEN says:

    @Hyawatts: Do explain how the 3DS would function as a Wii U controller when you’re askng for multitouch on Wii U, and the 3DS screen isn ‘t.

  17. gabriev says:

    If you implament multitouch, your going to run into unnesasary problems. The controler is NOT an iPad or Iphone on a game aspect alone what good is multitouch and what would multitouch take away? I’ll tell you… if a game is multitouch you can use 2 fingers to zoom a screen, and you can press 2 buttons at once. that is all you can do with multitouch. Well zoom is an easy fix, several ways with a device like this. 1) map a phisical button for 1/2 zoom function, meaning press (y button) and press the screen, slide your finger to the left and to the right, left zooms IN… right zooms OUT… from the spot you pressed on the screen. 2) slider bars or button press the zoom in/out. So I fixed the ability to zoom without multitouch.

    Now pressing 2 buttons at once, what good this could have in game is a “combo” feature. Fighting games use multiple button combinations a+y = high punch… So virtual a + virtual y could become high punch. Guess what… with one button I can tap (virtual a button) and remap the phisical buttons (virtual a) button makes (physical a button) high punch PLUS (physical y button) goes from super sword attack to I’m going to claw your face out attack. So using a single button you can remap the entire controller instead of having a controller inside a controller redundancy.

    If you understand how I wrote that, you will understand that combinations of single touch and phisical buttons gives you more options than with multitouch. Because if you are using both fingers to operate the screen inside the controller the phisical controller buttons will be useless and unused while your enguaging both thumbs on the screen. Maybe I’m not a muntant like you, I don’t have 4 thumbs, I can’t operate 2 thumbs inside the screen and 2 thumbs out side the screen on the physical buttons/circle pads there is NO way to comfortably play a game to use both multitouch screen and phisical buttons AT THE SAME TIME. IPad does not have phisical buttons on the side so it NEEDS multi touch.

    Multitouch is USELESS! I challenge anyone to give me an example how mutitouch benefits gameplay over single touch, without having to sacrifice MORE variables than single touch and phisical combination, Understanding the layout of your hand (2 thumbs for all operations on the surface of the controller) and the controller comfortability/useability.

  18. “As long as Nintendo keeps making Nintendo games (Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, etc.)the Nintendo faithful will buy the system”
    isn’t that the truth. well Mario and Zelda has been a big following for such a long time and i have dedicated my site to this following. http://www.retro-nintendo.co.uk
    it is great how much this writer has thought about the new console maybe you should contact nintendo for a job.

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  20. wampdog29 says:

    This is a bit late of a comment, I know, but I just wanted to again correct this misunderstanding of “multi-touch is better than single-touch.” This is untrue. To have multi-touch capabilities, the screen technology needs to be capacitive. The problem with capacitive is that it isn’t as accurate as single-touch (resisitive) is to responses. You can draw with a stylus on resisitive/single-touch but NOT with capacitive. Atleast, not with a normal looking and feeling stylus. It has to be as fat as a finger and those just aren’t any fun or accurate to draw/write with.

    Nintendo will continue to use resistive/single-touch until technology comes around that allows for both multi-touch and to-the-pixel accuracy(and it is coming).

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