E3 2012: Nintendo's Cindy Gordon on what Wii U is all about [Interview]

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Nintendo Land Wii U
Judging from Nintendo's E3 presence last year, this whole "asymmetric play" thing may have seemed like not much more than a gimmick. But this year, the storied games company has billed that as the upcoming console's niche, it's ace in the hole, it's meat and potatoes, it's--OK, you get the idea. Nintendo's Cindy Gordon, VP of corporate affairs in the Mario house, told us as much.

"Asymmetric gameplay is definitely resonating for folks," Gordon tells us in a closed room in Nintendo's booth on the E3 show floor. "What Wii was to motion, Wii U is to asymmetric play." There you have it, folks. If you're a Nintendo fan, you better get used to ganging up on your friends with a few Wii remotes against their Wii U game pad. Asymmetric play, for all intents and purposes, is the system-seller for the Wii U.

Nintendo Land screensAs pointed out in our preview, Nintendo Land is essentially what Wii Sports was for the Wii, and Nintendo agrees. "That's how we talk about [Nintendo Land] at Nintendo, too. Nintendo Land is the very best showcase of all things Wii U, because it's got multiple experiences," Gordon tells us. "It's like the Swiss army knife-you've got every possible variation of asymmetric play that's possible." (However, only five of the 12 games available in Nintendo Land were on display during E3.)

But Nintendo Land, and the Wii U by extension, opens up a new opportunity for game makers and players. Mini games like The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest take some rather hardcore game concepts from the series and distill them into something that every type of gamer can understand. "Again, that's another example of asymmetric gameplay, but in a cooperative sense," Gordon adds.

But there's something else to Wii U that Gordon insists shouldn't be forgotten. "MiiVerse is as much a part of the Wii U as the game pad is part of the Wii U, so it's built into the hardware. Every game is instantly connected with MiiVerse," Gordon says. "What's really cool about it is that when you're walking around Main Street, those tiles that you're seeing are not put there by us, those are put there by what's trending, what people are enjoying, so it's a great way for people to discover new games."

MiiVerse is the first persistent online gaming network to come from Nintendo on a home console, so it's tough not to liken to liken it to, say, Microsoft's Xbox Live. But don't say that to Nintendo. "We certainly don't take any cues from what the competitors are doing. The inspiration for MiiVerse is, 'How do we help people have more fun and get more enjoyment out of their games?'"
Wii U preview
Now that the Wii U has been a known commodity for a year (almost to the day), it's equally east to contrast Microsoft and Sony's dual-screen entertainment solutions with that of Nintendo's. While the former simply developed software to use across any mobile device, the latter simply bills its new handheld console as a $250 second screen.

"What we're seeing one year after we launched Wii U and the second screen is that people are saying, 'Hey, that's a good idea, that's innovative, we like that,'" Gordon admits. Still, it begs the question: Is dual-screen interaction the new mode for gaming, or will it be just another fad? This holiday season will be telling, to say the least.

Are you excited for the Wii U and its games? What do you think of these "system-sellers?" Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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