Nintendo held their annual Holiday Showcase event in Toronto and Montreal this week. While in Toronto, we caught up with Nintendo of Canada’s spokesperson Matt Ryan to discuss the Wii U and what it’s bringing to the table in gaming and home entertainment.
Eggplante!: So Wii U! It’s been about a year and a half since its first unveiling. What’s been the big thing about it since then?
Matt Ryan: Nintendo TVii was the latest announcement that we just made in New York that is proving that the system is way more than just an awesome gaming console, but has other entertainment to be delivered through it. I would say that is the next big thing that we have announced. What was already announced which was Miiverse still has more coming as well so that’s something also to be excited about.
E!: So it seems that Nintendo hasn’t had the super hardcore market nailed down until now when we’ve got games like ZombiU and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 in a version that isn’t specific to a Nintendo console. How has Nintendo been able to court those developers into the Wii U?
MR: I don’t know how much of it was actually courting. The system is HD, processing power has been enhanced so there’s a level playing field for developers. It’s quite obvious that certain developers have gotten behind this product and have had dev kits for a while because they see the GamePad as a new toy in the toy box that they can use to develop games. There’s a lot of benefit to playing these multi-platform titles on Wii U that you can only get with Wii U. Things like no disruption to gameplay to access weapons and items and maps. You know, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 has two player with one person using the GamePad and one person on the TV with no split screen. I think one of the best executions is Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition with the GamePad actually being your bat computer. So there are enhancements and they’re not direct ports! The essence of the games may be the same but the experience is different on Wii U and I think gamers have more choices now and obviously we want them to play on our system.
E!: So we wrote an article a few weeks ago about Nintendo having very likely the strongest launch line-up for any console we’ve ever seen. 23 games at launch, and a total of 50 by the end of March 2013. How do you manage to get 23 launch games out, of which four or five are some of the biggest blockbuster titles of the year!?
MR: Well we don’t manage all of it, because we’re only publishing a chunk of those. We do have a role in the licensing department. They do work very closely with other developers, but it’s just about wanting the most and the strongest line-up for our console, and this is it! There’s no doubt about it: there’s something for everybody and the quality of the titles is great. We’ve got New Super Mario Bros. U for the people who have been ragging us about not having a Mario game on launch day. Technically, we’ve got every franchise represented with Nintendo Land, if you want to prove yourself, play some Sing Party, play Ninja Gaiden 3 if you want to dismember some people! There’s some great original IP [intellectual property] with ZombiU if you like killing zombies, some great sports games with FIFA 13, so there are a lot of different options.
E!: And on the non-gaming side, most of the accessories we’ve had on our Wii will work?
MR: Wii U is accessory compatible for your Wii Remotes, your nunchuks, Wii Balance Boards will all work with Wii U. And then there’s the Wii U Pro Controller which is another option for button configurations and what you’re holding in your hand.
E!: Is Nintendo TVii going to be available at launch?
MR: We have not confirmed when it will be available at this time.
E!: So where the heck do you guys go from here? Within a year, we know there will be Dual GamePad support and other experiences, but has anything in terms of Wii U-3DS functionality started cropping up or have there been any chats about how that might work?
MR: Probably. There’s probably chats happening. I don’t sit in those meetings, so we’ll just have to see. We’ll just have to focus on the launch for now because that’s kind of a big deal!
E!: Thanks Matt! We were light on the Zelda questions this time around for your sake!
MR: You can tell all your fans that we’re working on Zelda!
Of course, it’s not a stretch to think that Nintendo is working on all of their franchises at any given time, from Animal Crossing to Zelda to everything in between, and it’ll be great to see how many big franchise releases we see between now and this time next year for Wii U.
Stay tuned as we blow out the entire library of launch titles for Wii U, as well as give our impressions before and after getting our hands on the games and hardware! Follow Eggplante on Twitter for all the latest!