Wii U: We still don’t know what it’s all about

So after two years of press conferences, interviews, and hands-on, we still don’t know Wii U’s full story.

Last year, Nintendo made a true bungling of its E3 press conference. Even Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said he made a mistake by not showing the console itself and instead focusing on the touchscreen controller.

Interestingly enough, Iwata was not present during the press conference this year but he was spotted at E3. Perhaps it was intentional to not have him as part of the big media spectacle this year after he messed things up in 2011.

But here’s the problem – Nintendo still didn’t answer the questions we’ve been asking.

So for example, we took the Wii U for a test drive, playing through games like New Super Mario Bros U. It felt just like last year – if you’re playing a multiplayer game, whoever is using the Wii U Gamepad uses that display, while whoever is using Wii Remotes uses the TV as their display.

And if you’re playing a single-player title, you look primarily at the TV but for additional tips and information you can glance down at the Gamepad.

But here’s the thing – it isn’t because Nintendo can’t make fun, engaging games that the Wii is dying right now.

It’s because it doesn’t have a robust online network. Nintendo briefly touched on Miiverse, its answer to Xbox Live and the Playstation Network, but honestly the way it actually works is still a huge mystery.

In addition, the company highly touted its game Nintendoland, which was said to be “the Wii Sports of Wii U,” meaning as soon as you play the game, you’ll get it.

But even Nintendoland was confusing – some of the mini-games are compatible with three players, some have support for up to five, and some are single-player fare.

Nintendo also didn’t make it clear if the game is just a collection of mini-games or if there is some sort of mechanic to tie them together into one cohesive experience, like Mario Party.

In other words, coming out of E3 2012, the Wii U looks exactly the same as it did coming out of E3 2011. That isn’t what we want to see for new hardware.