Wii U: Nintendo releases price and launch details – live

The latest news:

Japanese conference at 8am followed by European press event at 3pm

3.53pm: The US press event is still going on. Activision is talking about Skylanders coming to Wii U.

The publisher’s CEO of publishing Eric Hirshberg, is now introducing Call of Duty: Black Ops II on stage. They’re demoing a level set in Singapore named Cargo. “We’ve never been able to acheive this level of graphical realism on a Nintendo platform before,” says Hirshberg, as two staff fight amid the shipping containers. It’s all running in 60fps, as per usual.

Players can change their load-outs on the GamePad screen – it can also be used to view the mini-map or to call in air strikes. Also, you can have local co-op or competitive two-player with one participant on the GamePad screen and the other on the TV.

The Wii U version will come with the full single-player campaign, the zombie mode and multiplayer. It’ll be out in November.

3.41pm: That’s it. Short and sweet, but with one major announcement: Bayonetta 2. If gamers were worried that Nintendo wasn’t going to take hardcore fans seriously this time round, that’s a rather major statement of intent.

3.40pm: After a bit of B-roll fun, we see Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate: HD Edition, which is coming to Wii U but will also be playable against owners of the 3DS edition. You can also save your game across 3DS and Wii U versions. It will be out in March 2013.

3.38pm: Woah, Platinum Games is also bringing Bayonetta 2 to Wii U! Brand new and exclusive for Wii U and published by Nintendo. It’s being overseen by the original game’s directing and producing team, Hideki Kamiya and Yusuke Hashimoto!

3.36pm: Hurray, we’re on to Platinum Games’ Project P-100 in which one hundred mini-heroes must save the world from invading aliens. Players control swarms of heroes all with different abilities. the game is now called The Wonderful 101 (the extra one is YOU, silly).

3.33pm: Right now we’re on the absolutely beautiful scrolling adventure Trine 2. Classic platform series Toki Tori is coming to eShop later in the year, complete with a level editor.

We move on to Lego City Undercover, with the player taking on the role of an undercover cop, Chase McCain. It looks quite funny and the gamePad can be used to scan areas for hidden stuff, as well as to call in to HQ for new missions. The hero can disguise himself as other mini-figs including a miner who can blow up rocky areas to reveal new areas. There are 100 of these disguises in the game.

There is lots of parkour exploration too, as well as over 100 vehicles. The first copies of the game will also come with a limited edition Chase McCain minifig.

3.27pm: Next up we have Fifa 13 and Mass effect 3, both coming to Wii U (we know all this of course). The Mass Effect 3 Special edition will include the extra narrative content at the end – it’ll be a launch title.

3.26pm: Now we’re seeing a new location from the survival horror title, ZombiU. It’sthe Tower of London. Will there be zombie Beefeaters? Zombie ravens? Zombie tourists?

There are 50 different items to hunt down to upgrade your weapons with better firepower and accuracy. Plus, the more you use a specific weapon, the better your skills become. However, if your survivor dies, the player loses all the skills.

You can also leave messages around each level, using a spray can to insert a range of icons. Very Dark Souls.

There are other online and social elements – when other players are killed in online modes, they become zombies and when you kill them, you get their items. You also discover their gaming stats, like grabbing dog tags in Battlefield.

There will also be a limited edition ZombiU Wii U bundle available on launch day

3.22pm: Ubisoft veteran Michel Ancel is on screen, showing off Rayman Legends. He shows how you can use the GamePad to drag objects across the level – you can also use the accelerometers in the controller to rotate the levels on the main screen, giving Rayman access to new areas.

There’s also some asymmetrical multiplayer – the GamePad player controls a sort of shield which can protect the other gamer who is playing as Rayman – it can also be used as a platform to leap on.

The game also features an interactive orchestral soundtrack with musical elements reacting to onscreen moments. A nice cartoon-style effect. And it’s a luanch title.

3.19pm: Shibata is now showing New Super Mario Bros U. You can play with other players on the main screen, or you can have one player joining in on their GamePad, helping the others as they traverse the main game on the TV display. It’s a new mode designed to let less experienced players get involved.

There’s also a Boost Rush mode, a fast-paced endless-running style option.

Game & Wario and Pikmin 3 will apparently arrive next year…

3.15pm: Shibata is introducing the 12 mini-games that make up Nintendo Land. He’s claiming that the tasks are difficult enough to challenge even hardcore gamers. It’s interesting this has been pointed out – Nintendo is really keen to re-engage with its dedicated fanbase.

He’s showing the Metroid Blast mini-game, which has asymmertical multiplayer functionality and looks rather nice. Meanwhile, the Battle Quest mode of the Zelda game has nine stages with unlockable extras. “Single player is very challenging,” he says.

Shibata says we will disocver some Nintendo characters in the game that we didn’t know every well before. Hmm, what can he mean?


NintendoLand will be bundled with the Premium console.

3.09pm: The Wii U main memory is 4GB, 20 times bigger than Wii. Game discs will be able to hold 25GB of data.

You can check out the Wii U website for more information.

3.07pm: The US launch has been confirmed as November 18.

Nintendo Europe head Satoru Shibata is just explaining the two Wii U packs. The White basic pack and the Black premium pack. Both come with two AC packs (one for the machine, one for the GamePad), but the Black one has 32GB hard drive as opposed to the basic 8GB.

The European version of the Black bundle will also get the Nintendo Network Premium offer, giving players points for game downloads as well as discounts of 10%. When you reach 500 points you can start claiming gifts.

3.03pm: Okay, the European Event has begun.

3.01pm: The Twitter votes for ‘neglected Nintendo brands that should return to Wii U’ are still coming in, with the lovely Dan Maher, previously of Inside Xbox fame and now doing amazingly good stuff with his new production company, has put in another vote for F-Zero as well as Pilot Wings. “The 3DS half-effort doesn’t count!” he insists.

2.55pm: There’s 10 minutes to go, so we have time for a couple of comments from UK developers on the Wii U and its chances.

I spoke to Simon Barratt of Bradford-based FourDoorLemon earlier, and he reiterated a familiar concern: “The cost of the additional GamePad could prove prohibitive to games that are based on having two tablet displays, but no more so than multiple other dual-screen gaming solutions like iOS/Apple TV, Vita/PS3, etc.”

Meanwhile, Adrian Barritt of Silverball Studios, who developed Mario Pinball back in 2003 and is now Kickstarting a new Pro Pinball title said: “The new controller really grabs my imagination. The idea of multiplayer titles in which one player has privileged information available on his screen is very interesting. There’s an old parlour game called werewolf, where you play with a group of friends and a couple of people in the party are werewolves, while everyone else has to discover who they are. That type of idea could be brought to Wii U. For me, that’s a very appealing concept.”

For pinball fans, SilverBall is planning on bringing Pro Pinball to Wii U; “We’ll have the table on the main screen and the backbox with the dot matrix score display on the GamePad,” he promises.

“It’s easily got enough power to render games in hi-def to a very high standard. I’ve got no concerns about the power of the machine.”

2.28pm: In our quest to locate forgotten Nintendo gems that could be revived for Wii U, we’ve had a sudden onslaught of Tweets about Duck Hunt. The old shooting game seems still to arouse strong passions in gamers who enjoyed blasting defenceless birds out of the sky.

Gamesblog reader @timthemonkey81 makes the point:

Without Duck Hunt, there would have been no Time Crisis

I think we can all appreciate the gravity of that statement.

The most obscure request so far has come from @RegularCraig, who’d like to see the GameCube and Nintendo 64DD god game Doshin the Giant on Wii U. There’s certainly some asymmetrical multiplayer potential there, with three participants controlling villagers and the chap with the Gamepad taking on the role of the eponymous giant.

2.11pm: I’ve just asked on twitter for any neglected Nintendo brands people would like to see brought back for Wii U.

First response was from the Guardian’s own Chris Moran who squeeled:

Ooooh Oooh! Wave Race!

Good start, there, Chris – the jetski sim would look lovely in 1080p, with those amazing water effects.

Telegraph games writer Ashton Raze writes:

Not series, but sequels to Eternal Darkness and Geist would be nice.

He is right. We’ve also had lots of votes for Starfox and F-Zero, of course. Oh man, F-Zero with HD visuals!

1.53pm: Right, back from lunch (three Ryvita, cheese, a banana, cup of tea – pretty disappointing really, but it’s my fault for not going shopping), and before the European Wii U launch event begins, lets take a look at some more analysis.

Gamespot has a very quick piece going through the key questions hanging over the launch.

“Nintendo has not been shy about admitting it has done a less-than-stellar job at relating the novelty of the Wii U to consumers. In June, the company explained the message of the Wii U has been confusing relative to the Wii. Nintendo marketing executive Scott Moffitt said gamers may have a tough time ‘getting it’ until they try out the Wii U’s GamePad for the first time. This is a problem that Nintendo no doubt wants to fix. But how will they do it?”

In a longer piece, Richard George of IGN concsiders Nintendo’s imminent hurdles, one of which is communicating the benefits of the Wii U’s Miiverse feature, which offers an online social network that lets players tell each other what they’re playing, while meeting, connecting and chatting:

“Miiverse isn’t as much a hurdle as an opportunity. Direct social connectivity between gamers, a system and games is untapped territory. While Twitter and Facebook contain game conversation, they’re also packed with politics, movies, television and every little detail about ordinary life. Filtering that to just focus on gamers that are being played right now is significantly challenging. At E3 Nintendo tipped its hand to its vision, and there’s plenty more potential where those ideas are concerned.

“So far all we’ve seen about Miiverse is some sample footage. We’ve heard a bit of vague, overly-general discussion about its flexible application across different games, and the larger vision of creating an online destination for gamers to interact with other gamers – but not just to compete. The goal of Miiverse seems to focus on creating a culture around Wii U games. In other words, it’s attempting to replicate some of the old school feelings many of us had when we used to tell all our friends about the latest NES or SNES games we were playing – before the Internet really hit its stride. If Miiverse actually accomplishes that – and maybe more – this service has the potential to eclipse the innovation provided by the GamePad itself.”

And here’s a video of the Miiverse demo from E3 2012:

So, a teeny bit like Xbox Live and PSN, but more visual.

12.37pm: Okay we’re having a little liveblog break for lunch. Be back here for 2pm though as the countdown begins to the European launch event.

11.57am: While we’re waiting for more things to happen, here are my five most anticipated Wii U titles:


A truly dark survival horror adventure set in London? Not quite the sort of thing we were expecting from Wii U, but a real highlight of E3 2012. The key feature is the ‘perma-death’ system: you control a survivor of a zombie plague, but if your character is bitten, they die and you re-spawn in a totally different person. Then you have to find the zombie version of your previous self to grab all your items back. Clever, tense and scary in the way the first two Resi Evil titles were.

Game & Wario (working title)

A mini-game collection with some interesting uses of the GamePad. In one title you have to spot characters wondering around a town on the main screen, photographing them with your GamePad camera. In another multiplayer challenge, three participants have to spot the onscreen character of a fourth player as he or she uses the GamePad to hide in a busy city scene. Hard to explain, but really good fun.

Project P-100

This offbeat title from Platinum Games (Bayonetta, Vanquish) could be the sleeper hit of the launch line-up. Players control a huge group of super heroes as they save Earth from an alien invasion. Players swipe the GamePad screen to assemble their heroes into a range of formations in order to tackle particular enemies. It’s hectic, stylish and eccentric; like a great Dreamcast game updated for the next generation.

Nintendo Land

Another mini-game collection, and this is likely to be the ‘killer app’ of the launch period. Players wander around a themepark selecting game-like rides. All the challenges are based on classic Nintendo brands like Luigi’s Mansion and Zelda, but my favourite is Animal Crossing: Sweet Day in which two players run around a maza trying to eat as many sweets as possible, while two others play as guards trying to stop them. It looks cute, but there are some pretty deep tactics involved.

Pikmin 3

Ah yes, Miyamoto’s herding classic is back with some rather lovely visual flourishes, new Pikmin types and smart use of the GamePad controls. The tablet display also shows a map of the game world – a feature we can expect to see a lot more of as traditional RPG titles start to hit the console.

11.23am: I have some more comment for you, this time courtesy of Matthew Castle, associate editor of the Official Nintendo Magazine.

On the suspected £229 UK price:

“It’s certainly not as painful as it could have been. £210 (26,250 yen) for a ‘home type’ Wii U is pretty kind, especially considering how easy it will be to extend the 8gb flash memory with USB hard drives/memory sticks.”

That’s an important point. A lot of people don’t realise that the Wii U is likely to have an SD Card slot and up to four USB 2.0 ports, so there’s plenty of potential for memory expansion.

But how about that high price for a separate GamePad?

“While I can see people getting riled by £107 for an extra GamePad, they have to remember that no games currently support two pads. Of course, at £107 for an extra pad, I wonder if any game ever will. That said, the reuse of Wii Remotes and Nunchucks is a smart move – Wii U happily slots into the Wii’s spot in the living room, allowing current Wii owners to enjoy Wii U multiplayer straight out the box at no extra expense.”

And finally, games?

“New Super Mario Bros U and Nintendo Land were the expected choice of launch games. Nintendo Land seemed like an obvious candidate to be bundled with the machine – it’s very much Wii U’s Wii Sports – but then Wii Sports wasn’t bundled with Wii in Japan, so the same might go for the Europe/US release (announced later today).

I’d also expect some new game announcements to trickle out over the next few weeks, especially with Tokyo Game Show on the horizon. Lots of Nintendo’s regular Japanese contributors have yet to chime in – Level-5, Capcom, Tecmo Koei – so there should be some stuff from them. We should hear more in the software announcement tonight.”

Plenty to look forward to later, then…

Oh and the Official Nintendo Mag’s website has a very thorough guide to the console, the GamePad and the known specifications right here.

10.38am: Some more comment now – I’ve just spoken to Piers Harding-Rolls, senior principle analyst at IHS Screen Digest.

“Yesterday I was predicting a price of between £229 and £250. I expect the premium version will be at around £270. The big change in strategy is that Nintendo has replicated what Sony and Microsoft have done – having a tiered strategy to target different types of consumer. Nintendo has always said it will target different users with the Wii U and doing that with a single pricing strategy would have been difficult.”

As the for the potential problems of a £220 price point:

“It’s all about the value proposition, it’s not all about the headline price. It’s the total package, including the content. The 3DS was a lesson for Nintendo; the game content wasn’t there at launch to back up the price and offer value. If the games are there for Wii U, there’s no reason it won’t sell in substantial numbers.”

But will it sell as well as Wii?

“We don’t feel it will. We don’t think the message is as simple, it won’t resonante with the consumer as easily. And the competitive backdrop is very different. It doesn’t mean it won’t be a successful product.”

Screen Digest has produced forecasts on expected woldwide sales for the machine. They’re predicting 2.7m for year end (although that is based on a predicted late-November launch date so needs adjustment), and 4m sales by the end of March 2013.

Harding-Rolls also pointed out that we shouldn’t assume the US launch will come after Japan. The North American launch for the Wii was 19 November 2006, with Japan following on December 2.

9.29am: Wesley Yin-Poole has written a useful article on Eurogamer, trying to answer the essentially unanswerable question: is Wii U more powerful than Xbox 360 or PS3?

“Where the Wii U outdoes the current generation is in RAM and GPU. The Wii U has, effectively, twice the RAM available to games that the Xbox 360 and the PS3 each have. And we hear much praise of the GPU.

‘The Wii U is a nice console to work with because it’s got so much RAM in comparison [to the PS3 and Xbox 360],’ another Wii U developer, who wished to remain anonymous, told us. ‘For E3 we simply dumped the whole game into memory and never once used the disc after the content was loaded from it.’

It is the RAM in combination with the GPU that means Wii U games have the potential to outshine Xbox 360 and PS3 games. Indeed, according to one source, the Wii U version of his company’s game will be ‘the smoothest console version'”.

The big question mark is over the CPU. Nintendo hasn’t released specs but developers are saying it has a lower clock speed than the PS3 and Xbox 360 architectures. If the GPU is powerful enough, the impact of this will be negated, but running two GamePads is likely to have an impact on frame rate…

9.18am: So, lots of debate now over the possible UK price. Here, retailers tend to get the final say, based on the trade price of the consoles, and we’re unlikely to see a straight Yen-to-sterling conversion.

Eurogamer has just tweeted:

Our bet on a price? £229.99 for the 8GB Wii U, £279.99 for the 32GB Wii U. (Same as Vita)

It also points out that the original Wii launched at just £179.99. Does a price of over £200 put it into a whole different affordability bracket for families?

9.07am: I asked Michael French, editor-in-chief of industry news site, MCV, to give us his thoughts on the Japanese launch announcement. Here’s what he had to say:

A lot of attention is going to focus on the price to start off with, and that’s understandable. But the UK trade and retailers were always prepared for something around the £250 mark. Nintendo deciding to offer two SKUs suggests it is being mindful of price and trying to create models that are both as affordable as possible for families this Christmas and have appeal to the more dedicated or digital savvy consumer.

Given Nintendo’s profit-strapped financials in the wake of the 3DS launch price and swift pricedrop, I imagine this device is priced to include some decent margin for Nintendo to keep investors happy, too.

Some of the other facts are pretty much in-line with Nintendo’s last major console launch, but I think the question we still won’t know the answer to until the Wii U is out is whether or not the market and consumers has moved on from the opportunities Nintendo software can create. Wii U’s competition isn’t really PS3 or Xbox 360 this Christmas, it’s iPad, Kindle Fire and the host of kids’ Android tablets out there. Price might not be the differentiating factor in that context – it might be the bounty of cheaper, high-profile apps versus the traditional games industry’s excellent by expensive triple-A games.

8.40am: During the press event Iwata also announced the Nintendo Network Premium scheme, only available with the Premium Wii U bundle. It will offer both points for, and 10% discounts on, digitally downloaded games. It looks like the company is looking to really push digital games distribution this time round.

8.38am: You can relive the excitement of the Nintendo Direct Japanese launch announcement right here.

8.39am: So much of the debate at the moment is on the price of an extra GamePad, the tablet-like controller that is the key feature of the new console. Although one comes bundled with the device, if you want another one, it’ll set you back around £107.

Indie developer Brian Provinciano just tweeted:

Wii U supports an additional tablet but due to its cost (thus how few people will buy it), can’t imagine many games using this feature.

It’s a good point. All those ideas we had about, say, American football games allowing each participant to have their own mini-playbook on the tablet screen, or local co-op RPGs with everyone getting their own tablet-displayed inventory and map are looking less likely, perhaps?

Japanese Wii U release date: 8 December.

Basic set will be 26,250 yen (£209), and the premium is 31,500 yen (£251). This is in line with wehat everyone was expecting.

8.16am: Wow, the Pro Wii U GamePad, which looks like a mini-tablet and is the main selling point of the console, will retail at 13,440 yen, when purchased alone. £105!

More exciitng – there are to be two bundles in Japan, a white basic bundle and a black premium bundle. The white will have 8GB of memory, the black 32GB.

8.13am: After chatting about the features of the GamePad and conforming that the Wii U will support all your Wii peripherals, Iwata is talking through some of the key titles including New Super Mario Brothers U and Nintendo Land, the mini-games collection shown off at E3. We;re also getting some Japanese price for joypads and accessories, which I’ll run through later when I’ve had more coffee.

8.09am: Nintendo president Satoru Iwata is presenting the Japanese event. He’s currently running through the features of the Wii U console. It will support 1080p HD and is apparently 20 times more powerful than the original Wii.

8.04am: After last night’s iPhone 5 launch, the attention of the tech world now turns to Nintendo. The video game giant is announcing key details of its forthcoming Wii U console today, starting with a press conference at 8am (BST) and moving on to European and North American events at 3PM.

We’re expecting a launch date, a price (though an exact UK price is unlikely, with retailers expected to take the lead here) and some indication of the launch line-up. Lots of rumours sworling around about fresh game announcements. We’ll see how it goes.

You can watch the live stream of the Japanese press conference here.

Announcements set to include launch date, price and games lineup




Keith Stuart

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