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E3 2012: Wii U GamePad tour

Nintendo has had, at best, a mystifying E3 this year. Perhaps it wasted a lot of goodwill and effort on last year’s big reveal of the Wii U, but it’s been lackluster so far. Unfortunately, for fans and gamers interested in seeing what the Wii U is capable of, Nintendo is still holding many of those details close to the chest.

Many expected the Japanese gaming giant to release hardware, price and release date information during its press conference, but the company did no such thing, unless you count the vague “fall 2012” as a potential launch “date.”  We still don’t know what’s inside the new console or how Internet connectivity will work within a Wii U network. Not surprisingly, we do know that Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video will be available on the Wii U (the Wii already has Netflix streaming). We’re not even entirely sure how many of the 24 revealed games will be available at launch.

Like last year, Nintendo has focused most of its Wii U energy on promoting the GamePad. The GamePad is a tablet-esque controller that comes with a screen in the middle. Potentially, this secondary screen will augment gameplay with things like item screens, maps, or adding a new way for another player to join in on games. Various trailers have shown similar capabilities for upcoming Wii U games. 

The GamePad does upgrade Nintendo’s controllers to a more modern look, reintroducing shoulder buttons, analog sticks, and a microphone and camera. One of the interesting features is the TV Control button, which lets players use the GamePad as a remote for their television even while gaming.