So, the big big question about Nintendo's newest console, for me at least, is how will the Online Side of it go? Just my luck - Nintendo decided to do a Nintendo Direct showing off some of the features in....well, not a complete way, but at least a good introductory manner to tide us over while we wait for some more details. I've heard tell that there are actual Wii U units out there already, likely for review purposes (not to mention Demo Stations), so we'll be getting some impressions in short manner. Not -of- the Network, of course, but hopefully with how it might be set up, since the console comes with an instruction manual which is a very, very foreign concept, apparently. Still, what -is- there is sufficiently meaty to pick at and go over and for some reason I am very, very curious about the console, so I'm just going to roll with that interest to its natural conclusion, whatever that may be. I've sort of talked myself out of wanting one two or three times already, but it has some sort of pull that I can't quite explain. Perhaps simply that I've been without a Nintendo console for so long, being that my last one was the N64.
The first thing the video covers, and perhaps the one thing that I'm really a little confused on still, or at least really not sure on, is the WaraWara Plaza, which is the Home screen basically. Or...one of them, at least. I think standard will be that the WaraWara Plaza (Which is an extension of Miiverse? I guess?) will be on the TV where the standard Wii Menu screen, with buttons in rows will be on the Gamepad, though they can be swapped if so desired. Basically what it is is a thing that shows off Wii U games that....exist? Are getting played a lot? It's not really clear what the criteria will be for showing up, but I'm assuming it's not based solely on what you yourself own. While also showing them off, they also show off a few comments that people are making about it which are randomly picked and probably not universal. So if your buddy Roger says "These zombies are super fast" about ZombiU and it comes up on your Wii U screen, it's probably not coming up on -everyone's- screen. It's just a way to get you interested in games that are out there which is admirable, but again, I'm curious as to how it'll actually work.
Next up, the thing that's all at once amazing and terrible is the Wii U Chat system that they showed off which is not terrible for bad reasons but for amazing ones. You see, the Gamepad will make use of its microphone and video camera to offer a video chat service through the Gamepad itself, meaning you can theoretically do this while watching something on TV, like a popular movie or TV show should you desire, but not while playing a game. It's pretty standard all told, but what elevates it is that you can use the stylus that comes with the system(?) to draw on the screen whilst speaking. I'm not sure just what anyone expects this to be used for that is not vulgar and hilarious, but if anyone has a really viable instrumentation, feel free to speak up. I'm just picturing 90% of Wii U Chat conversations containing "Stop drawing penises on me", though maybe this will be deterred by the fact that the screen will -only- be showing the drawing and the other person, so you would technically be drawing penises on yourself in their perspective. It's all very confusing, I guess, but I'm sure you were thinking the same thing when you heard it first.
What is particularly distressing about the whole of it is that that video attempts to summarize the Ninendo Direct, yet doesn't mention the Nintendo Network in a way that is more than cursory. So, knowing that, I went to watch the Nintendo Direct myself and...well, I am -still- confused. I read a Joystiq article (that I'm not linking because I don't wanna) that stated it would basically work like the 3DS, in that it'd be a friend code, but a universal one which is not ideal in the least, especially so for a Console that will be around for five or so years at least. But there was a little hubbub in the comments linking to other articles that said Alphanumeric code that you create, meaning a tag, meaning like everyone else has. So when I watched the Direct, I expected to walk away with complete knowledge of just what the hell, so I would know who is right and who is wrong about the situation.
I did not. I still don't know if it's a code that you pick, or that's assigned to you. I would assume you pick it since you have to provide your Name, Address, Date of Birth, Gender and Email Address as well as a password, which seems rather silly to provide for Nintendo to just spit out a 16-digit Number Code that you'll use from then out. Especially when they speak of it as being a unified code that you'll be able to use on PCs and Mobile devices to fiddle with your account, and one that will eventually go to the 3DS and be used with future Nintendo Hardware products. But that's my issue - I shouldn't have to assume anything. It's Nintendo's onus at this point to shout from the rooftops "WE HAVE A MODERN-DAY NETWORK STRUCTURE!" since it will be, in fact, their first time at it. If they actually do it! That there's still no official statement definitely outlining it in stone this late in the game is worrying, but hopefully not indicative of the quality that the Nintendo Network will provide. With any luck, there'll be -another- Nintendo Direct like next week that will further detail online bits, hopefully using one of their own online games as an example to show off how to set up a game and this and that, since that would be really helpful and really reassuring.