Plugged In

Nintendo Wii U’s new way to connect with family and friends

Plugged In

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by Samuel Axon, Tecca

With the big video game conference E3 2012 happening this week, Nintendo decided to reveal a few intriguing things about its new Wii U video game system, which is slated to be released by the end of this year. The Sunday evening presentation focused almost entirely on one big theme: How the console's new technology can help you stay engaged with your family and your friends whether they're in the living room with you or somewhere else.

Nintendo will actually include a social network of sorts (called Miiverse) which is integrated with all the features on the Wii U — and soon, the Nintendo 3DS portable gaming device. It allows you to chat with friends and family who are far away through video, post status updates that all your friends can see, and even see comments on certain points in gameplay when you're playing a game.

For example, if you're stuck on a boss fight in a particularly difficult video game, you can see comments other players have left on that portion of the game (at least, if the makers of the game choose to include the feature that Nintendo offers) or just post a status update that you're having trouble and ask for help.

Eventually those status updates and other features of Miiverse will be available on your computer or your smartphone through a web application, but Nintendo was careful to note that this probably won't be possible until some time after the console is released.

Other big Wii U news
Nintendo also took this evening as an opportunity to reveal the final Wii U controller, which it's calling the Wii U GamePad. It's similar to the prototype that was unveiled last year, but it replaces the 3DS-like circle-pad controls with thumbsticks like those on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

We also saw some of the features that combine the tablet with the TV for interesting results. For example, you'll be able to use the Wii U GamePad as a remote control for your TV even if the Wii U is offline — switching channels and the like.  The GamePad comes with a web browser, and you can swipe to send videos from the browser to the TV. You can even hide what you're browsing with an animated curtain on the TV (while viewing it on the GamePad) then remove the curtain for dramatic effect.


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