Ahead of the Electronic Entertainment Expo that officially begins on Tuesday, Nintendo has kicked off the festivities with a “Nintendo Direct Pre E3 2012″ video featuring the company’s president Satoru Iwata and the upcoming Wii successor. He informs the press and gamers around the world that Nintendo’s E3 press conference will focus mostly on Wii U software, and so the Pre-E3 video is used as a platform to expand upon Wii U hardware and social infrastructure.
First, Iwata unveiled the final product version of the Wii U’s tablet-esque controller that is now officially called the Wii U GamePad. (The name is derived from the original NES controller that was also referred to as a “GamePad” since it was the first of its kind to not feature a joystick.) The controller has been tweaked and refined since its prototype days to provide maximized comfort. Most significantly, the two Circle Pads are have replaced by clickable analog sticks. Underneath the D-pad there’s a marker for the controller’s built-in NFC functionality; it is here where gamers will be able to place physical objects to enhance gameplay. The plus and minus buttons have been moved to the right side of the controller underneath the ABXY buttons. Along the bottom underneath the touch-capable screen is a new button labeled TV Control; clicking it opens up a TV remote app that turns your GamePad into an infrared remote control and guide for channel surfing. Around back the grips have been slightly transformed to improve ergonomics.
Next, Iwata unveiled a new accessory for the Wii U. Yet another controller and this one’s called the Wii U Pro Controller. Taking design cues from the original Wii’s Pro controller and Microsoft’s Xbox controller, Iwata describes the new peripheral as a “lighter, and maybe more attractive for longer, more intense forms of gaming” alternative to the GamePad. As you’ll notice in the gallery below, the Pro Controller is shown off sporting a slick coat of black; perhaps this is a sign that the Wii U will also come in black when it ships later this year.
Iwata wrapped things up by introducing Nintendo’s giant leap into the social space with Miiverse. When you turn on your Wii U, the Miiverse serves as your homescreen. It looks like Mii Plaza from the current Wii, with all your custom-made Miis mingling around a big white space, but this is so much more than that. Miiverse brings together your avatar, all the avatars you’ve created on the console, your friends’ avatars, and avatars of people from your country that are playing the same games as you. Miis are organized around the games and apps they are currently involved with. You can interact with this giant community of Miis via text messages and drawings that are sent through the GamePad. In addition to sharing messages to gamers in your locality and around the world, you can capture screenshots from games and share these too. Iwata says that developers will be able to take advantage of this messaging system inside their games to make for a more communal gaming experience. (Iwata makes the point that even if you are playing a game alone in your living room, you are not truly alone because the sense of community with the Miiverse is always there.) Iwata confirms that the Miiverse is destined to bring Nintendo gamers together like never before by making it accessible through web browsers on PCs, smartphones, and of course Ninty’s portable offering the 3DS. This social expansion, however, will not be available immediately at launch.
E3 is just around the corner, and Nintendo is ready to show off what really counts (read: the games) when they take the stage for their press conference on Tuesday at 9AM PST. The Wii U hardware and social network contain a goldmine of gaming potential, but in the end it always comes down to the software lineup. Will Nintendo impress with games beyond their typical lineup of first-party gems starring the company’s mascots Mario, Zelda, and Metroid? Keep it right here for the latest from Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony as E3 kicks off later this week.
Check out the gallery below to see pictures of the final Wii U GamePad, the Wii U Pro Controller, and glimpses at the Miiverse interface. Jump after the break to watch Iwata’s half-hour Pre-E3 clip.
If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your Xbox 360 controllers or adding an additional one to the mix, I highly recommend you opt for one of these brand spankin’ new chrome models. Microsoft is branding them the Xbox 360 Special Edition Chrome Series Wireless Controllers and they will come in hues of red, silver, and blue when they hit the market mid-May at $54.99 each. The chrome controllers feature the “transforming D-pad” that Microsoft introduced in the matte silver version back in August 2010. Check ‘em out in the gallery below and let the oos and ahhs commence. Heck, even the packaging is drool-worthy.
Hey all you GoldenEye 007 junkies! Ready for your long-awaited fix when the next-gen GoldenEye releases for Wii this holiday season? Well I’ve got some good news that’ll make your holiday shopping bag a tad bit heavier. The new GoldenEye game will be released alongside a golden gun-inspired Wii Classic Controller Pro. Though the Classic Controller Pro is not required for gameplay, it’ll add that extra bit of old school nostalgia to make the experience all the better thanks to a familiar control scheme. The controller will ship this fall bundled with a “Classic Edition” of the game for $69.99. It has not been announced if it will be available separately.
It was just yesterday when we learned all about Rock Band 3′s new instruments and game modes. One day later comes even more news about the highly anticipated music game from developer Harmonix and peripheral maker Mad Catz. Here’s what we know so far: RB3 will feature a new game mode beyond the Expert level called “Pro”. Pro mode aims to actually teach you how to play an instrument. If you’re asking to yourself, “How can plastic toy guitars teach me how to play the real thing?” I’ve got a definitive answer that might just blow your mind.
In addition to the redesigned standard guitar that will ship alongside the game, Mad Catz is also manufacturing two new guitars that will resemble real life guitars. The Wireless Fender Mustang PRO-Guitar Controller ($149.99) contains 102 buttons in total, including 17 frets along a button-based neck and a 6-string strumming area which allows for discrete picking of each string and a touch-sensitive string box which allows players to mute or ‘cut-off’ notes when pressed. This thing is so authentic that it operates as a fully functional MIDI guitar; a MIDI output connector provides compatibility with MIDI software sequencers. A six-string Fender Squier Stratocaster is also in the works but has yet to be detailed.
The Wireless PRO-Cymbals Expansion Kit ($39.99) will bring the drums setup into Pro mode territory. The kit will attach to the standard drums setup and add three new cymbals to the mix: hi-hat, crash, and ride. The cymbals will feature enhanced responsiveness, quieter sound with noise-dampening rubber, and permanently rest at a pre-defined 10° angle.
Next up is the MIDI PRO-Adapter ($39.99) which allows you to hook up your own keyboard or electronic drum set to a console. This conversion box will act as mediator to allow for MIDI to USB to console. It features a velocity sensitive adjustment for MIDI drums and a full D-Pad plus standard gaming controller buttons so you can properly navigate on-screen menus.
And last but certainly not least is the Wireless Keyboard Controller ($79.99), the latest addition to the party. The keyboard/keytar instrument includes 25 keys and features a two-octave (C3 to C5) range and non-weighted, velocity-sensitive key bed. Just like the Fender Mustang, the keyboard has a MIDI out port allowing you to use it as a real keyboard with MIDI software sequencers and hardware devices. It’s also been confirmed that it can be used to play the lead guitar and bass in the game. (Note: A RB3 + keyboard bundle will sell for $129.99.)
So, if you’re one of those people who has been playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band games for years now but you’ve been craving a more realistic experience, all signs point to Rock Band 3 on delivering and satisfying your quench for a new challenge. Or if you’re the casual type RB3 has some good news for you, too. Three-part vocal harmonies have been ported from The Beatles: Rock Band, bringing the grand total of potential simultaneous players to seven: guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, and three vocalists on mics (or however you decide to divvy it up). Also, every game mode support player drop in/ drop out, meaning players can come and go as they please, new instruments can join and difficulty level can be changed on the fly. House parties are about to get a whole lot more fun.
Rock Band 3 is expected to release this holiday season for all major consoles. Look in the gallery below for some in-game screenshots. After the break catch the newly release game trailer and an image of the Fender Squier Stratocaster.
USA Today got the scoop on the latest peripheral to join the Rock Band party. In addition to guitar, bass, drums, and mic, Rock Band 3 will support “a 25-key, fully functioning MIDI keyboard.” RB3 project director Daniel Sussman on the keyboard: “We’re actually utilizing the full two-octave range that the keyboard controller has. Everything that you are playing, whether you are playing on easy or expert, is accurate musical information. The track looks like a real keyboard track, and you are playing notes on the keyboard that if you were to step away from the game and were to play on a real piano, they would be the right notes.” For those of you wondering about the keytar rumors from a while back, it’s been confirmed that the keyboard is designed to use on a lap or strapped over a shoulder. Watch the video embedded above to learn more about how the keyboard will work in-game.
Also announced was a new Pro Mode which makes the guitar, drums, and keyboard experiences more realistic. For example, “More realistic music notations replace the standard color-coded notes during gameplay. For guitar, numbers flow down the screen along six guitar strings, telling you where to place your hands on the neck and when to strum.” In fact, two new guitars are currently being developed that include actual strings where you need to strum. Game developer Harmonix is working on a six-string Fender Squier Stratocaster and third party peripheral maker Mad Catz is making a Fender Mustang Pro. Harmonix’s John Drake on the more realistic guitar: “It can tell where your fingers are based on technology in the neck and the bridge of the guitar. No buttons. While you’re playing it, it feels exactly like playing a real guitar.” The drums will get three new cymbals and gameplay forces you to play the correct cymbal at the right time. Says Harmonix CEO Alex Rigopulos: “If you are someone who is looking for a deeper challenge either because you are an expert player looking for the next level of challenge or because you actually have musical aspirations, there is the Pro game play (mode), which is really going to start to close the gap between simulated music and real musicmaking.”
Rock Band 3 will release for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Wii this holiday season. Look after the break for a partial tracklist organized by decade (the disc will contain 83 new songs in total).
Those of you who downloaded the Green Day: Rock Band demo from Xbox Live Marketplace (which includes the two tracks “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” & “Welcome to Paradise”) were treated to a teaser banner when exiting the demo for Rock Band 3. Along with the usual suspects (guitar, drums, bass, and mic) sits an entirely new instrument, a keytar! At first glance gamers interpreted the new icon to represent the addition of a keyboard peripheral for the new Rock Band game, but ArsTechnica claims their “now-famous Mole” has reliable information that the new instrument is in fact a keytar. For those of you who are not familar with the instrument, a keytar essentially combines a guitar and keyboard into one, and it’s very ’80s. Look after the break for a sexy image of said instrument.
Along with this tease comes more news surrounding the upcoming music game. While the first two iterations of Rock Band were sold with instruments created by developer Harmonix, all peripherals for Rock Band 3 will be created and distributed by third-party game accessory company Mad Catz. Mad Catz will promote a myriad of bundles including guitars, drums, and mics. Information regarding the keytar will likely be detailed next month at E3.
And there’s one more morsel of news that comes from this same source. Rock Band 3 will feature a new “pro mode” “that will require proper technique, and may lead to actual skills on guitars and bass.” Again, expect more details about the game to be exposed at E3 in mid-June.
This here is the Cleankeys touch sensitive wireless keyboard, made for germaphobes, likely by germaphobes. According to the manufacturer, when you clean a standard keyboard with a disinfecting wipe about 5% of bacteria is wiped away. When you wipe down the Cleankeys keyboard, about 95% of bacteria is removed since it’s much easier to completely wipe down a flat surface slab. All keys on it are touch sensitive, so when you go to press a key it doesn’t press down as you’d expect on a regular keyboard. It’s tap, not press; get it? It comes included with patent-pending technology that recognizes when you’re simply resting your hands on it so it won’t type out random letters and numbers. There’s also a build-in trackpad on it.
Who is going to purchase the Cleankeys keyboard? The manufacturer is marketing it to doctors as it provides a germ-free zone for inputting a patient’s information into a computer. It’s very easy to clean and keep clean. And I like it. There are molded and glass models available to purchase today; they cost $399 and $449 respectively.