After much speculation and only a few hints as to what we should expect, Nintendo finally offered up details on the Nintendo Network ID and Wii U's video chat functionality during a recent Japanese Nintendo Direct.
Satoru Iwata began the live-stream by giving fans a look at what comes inside the Wii U Deluxe bundle, during what he called the “official pre-release unboxing ceremony” (Sometimes I think he's a bigger fan of Nintendo than we are). You can see it all after the break!
As you can see the Deluxe Set comes full of extra goodies, including an HDMI cable – something that should come with everything that plugs into an HDTV these days. Here in the States the Wii U Deluxe will also come with a charging cable for the GamePad, the consoles necessary power supply, a charging dock for the GamePad and a stand for the GamePad. Nintendo Land is also featured as the pack-in game.
We've wondered for quite some time how exactly Nintendo would improve upon the Friend Codes that were used to play with others online. Thankfully, Iwata was ready to share all of the details. First of all, it looks like friend codes are completely gone, but before we get into that we should probably talk about user accounts. The Wii U will let you make up to 12 user accounts so that everyone in the household can have their own settings, save data, gameplay history and internet browsing bookmarks. Those user accounts (Miis) can then be attached to a Nintendo Network ID that will let us do things like purchase games from the eShop, connect to Miiverse and use the video chat. It will also let you connect to third-party software (Netflix, for instance) and in the future will give players access to Miiverse and the eShop on other devices like a PC or smartphone. Watch the (subtitled) breakdown in the video below.
Next up was Wii U Chat, the video chat feature Nintendo has been talking about since the Wii U was first revealed. For comparison, think of FaceTime or Skype, it's essentially the same thing. Wii U Chat is separate application, meaning gamers will not be able to video chat while they're getting eaten alive in ZombiU. However, if you are playing a game when someone calls in the Home button on the GamePad will slowly blink, letting you know someone's waiting to see that purday face of yours. One interesting feature is the ability to draw on the screen while you talk to someone. Using the GamePad's stylus we'll be able to write notes and draw doodles right on the screen. Watch Iwata and Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime get awkward below.
After the Nintendo Direct that spawned all of these videos, Nintendo released another showcasing the Wii U's home screen, which has officially been named WaraWara Plaza. This hub, which is populated by Mii characters from around the globe and the games they're talking about, will be the first thing players see when they turn on the Wii U.