Nintendo took to UStream again to announce even more details for its impending new console. The company's CEO was on hand to detail exactly what comes in the box with a very official-looking opening (Yep, Iwata-san just unboxed his own console.) It's some pretty familiar packaging, but we noted that the AC adapter appears to be a weighty block separate from the main console. Alongside the main unit and the GamePad, the process also gave us a glimpse at the rest of the premium package, including a charging stand for the Wii U GamePad, console stand, HDMI cable, more cable twists, packaging and a beta test for the new Dragon Quest title. White-gloved console handling aside, the CEO had plenty more to explain -- and some of it involved karaoke.
Nintendo Wii U: Microphone, Nintendo Network, unboxingSee all photos
The Nintendo CEO explained user accounts on the new console, with up to 12 players able to register on the same Wii U -- with individual settings and game saves kept in storage. With multiplayer games, your progress (and victories) will also be saved across all participating accounts. Even play history and internet bookmarks will be tied alongside your profile, avoiding future family arguments. The company's renaming where your Mii characters hang out as Warawara ("bustling") plaza and as soon as your console powers up, you'll be able to see exactly what your fellow gamers are doing on their own Wii U. These same characters will also be linked to a Nintendo Network ID. This new system will be compatible with some previous Nintendo hardware, but better still, you'll be able to connect to it from PC and smartphones starting some next year, with access to both Nintendo's eShop and Miiverse. And if you've built up quite the collection of retro games on your original Wii, Nintendo confirmed that these will be transferrable to the latest hardware through SD card.
Moving onto the GamePad, Nintendo explained that you will be able to pause mid-game and use the built-in internet browser without reseting the game. We also saw the Wii U GamePad used to change channels on your TV and more examples of (slightly familiar) content sharing across screens. The company's also setting up a game-centric social network, where you'll be able share your game progress (and even screen grabs) with other gamers. You'll even be able to post 'notes' within games for your Nintendo-networked friends to see. Wii U chat also got a brief mention, with the Japan-based Iwata-san making a quick call to his American colleague Reggie Fils-Aime, with streaming video and audio -- and a little bit of art -- done through the GamePad's touchscreen. Users will be notified of incoming calls through the home button.
During the Japanese-only broadcast, the Nintendo CEO also revealed that a standalone microphone accessory is also on its way (the GamePad already packs a built-in mic), with the new peripheral pitched at karaoke fans in its homeland and its new Karaoke service. Allying itself with Empty Orchestra experts Joysound, Nintendo's tried to offer a familiar interface along the lines of existing karaoke bar touchscreen interfaces. Within the Nintendo Karaoke app, you'll be able to
murder perform over 90,000 songs, with users paying a subscription rate to access the full back-catalog. A 90-day pass is priced at 2,000 yen ($25), but entry starts from as little as 100 yen for a one-hour slot, with an extra microphone set offering users both the peripheral and a trial selection of songs to sample -- no internet needed. There's no pricing yet for either of the microphone packs and the live broadcast didn't hit on whether the mic (or karaoke app) would appear outside of Japan -- but the US will still be first in the line for the console, which is now merely two weeks away.
Update: Nintendo's now offered up the full unboxing experience to watch: