The quaint social network built by Nintendo specifically for the Wii U, called Miiverse, is getting an overhaul sometime in 2013 to include user-created communities and an app built for smartphones.
As part of a European Nintendo Direct presentation broadcast today, the company also confirmed a release of the popular Virtual Console feature on the Nintendo eShop, as well as a number of new games featuring the likes of Mario, Yoshi and Link.
Miiverse has become one of the standout features for the Wii U console, due in part to its focus on touchscreen based illustrations and family friendly status updates. At the moment, Nintendo has created a specific discussion, or thread, for each video game released so far on Wii U. Later this year though, users will be able to create entirely new communities and open it up for other players to contribute to.
It’s quite an undertaking for Nintendo, which has decided to manually filter both posts and user profiles on the Wii U to ensure that nothing is inappropriate for children. The result has been a slower, but arguably more intelligent discussion about the video games being released on the system. Small details, such as an icon that proves whether the user has actually played the game, as well as the ability to take screenshots at anytime, has proven immensely popular with users looking for like-minded gamers.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata also reiterated that a smartphone app for Wii U would be released “in the future”, although a press release issued today has confirmed that a browser-based version will launch in Spring 2013. The functionality of the app has not yet been revealed, although a screenshot used during the presentation shows a device, in landscape orientation, with a single status update from a Miiverse feed.
It could be a crucial glimpse of what the Miiverse app will eventually look like, although to be honest it’s more likely a placeholder image taken from the Nintendo GamePad itself, which always displays the walled off social network in a landscape mode.
Regardless, the confirmation that a Miiverse app is still coming to smartphones is a huge step for Nintendo, given that they have previously all but disregarded mobile devices for any future video game releases. Checking individual communities, responding to private messages and even initiating purchases through the console’s eShop is just some of the functionality that the video game giant could be considering.
Iwata also made reference to Nintendo TVii, the company’s second screen media consumption app for Wii U users. While the software has slowly begun to roll out in Japan and the United States, Europe and other parts of the world have been waiting with bated breath. “I appreciate your patience,” Iwata said meekly.
In the meantime, Nintendo said it would be expanding the Netflix app on the Wii U to additional European countries, which, in the United Kingdom at least, sits alongside LoveFilm as the only third-party apps at the moment.
New games for Wii U
To try to salvage the rather bleak Nintendo Direct presentation, Iwata announced a dizzying number of video games for the Wii U system. It included two new games for The Legend of Zelda series; a HD remake of the cel-shaded GameCube classic, called the Wind Waker; as well as an entirely new entry, which producer Eiji Aonuma said was still in a very early stage.
A new 3D Super Mario game is also in the works, built by the Nintendo EAD Tokyo Software Development team which created the critically acclaimed Super Mario Galaxy titles on the Nintendo Wii, as well as Super Mario 3D Land on the Nintendo 3DS.
A new installment in the hugely popular Mario Kart franchise will also be playable at the all important E3 trade show in Los Angeles later this year. Other confirmed titles include Yarn Yoshi, a new title from the team that created Kirby’s Epic Yarn, an RPG mashup between the Fire Emblem and Shin Megami Tensei franchises, as well as a new JRPG from Monolith Soft, which worked on the JRPG Xenoblade Chronicles.
Rounding off the announcements was the unveiling of the Virtual Console for Wii U, a new piece of software that will be available from the Nintendo eShop. It will launch right after a system update in the spring, and include a selection of NES and Super NES games at launch. Game Boy Advance games will be added in the near future.
So it’s all coming, ladies and gentlemen. Just not as quickly as we might have hoped.