Wii U’s controller was almost Nintendo’s next portable

So is it a handheld? Is it a new system? Does it play DVDs?

These were some of the questions passed around during and after Nintendo’s Wii U reveal at E3 a few weeks back. While post-conference interviews quickly confirmed it to be a new system that you won’t be able to take on the bus, there was a time when the it could have been just like that.

Speaking to Gamasutra (via), Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata revealed that the company was once considering making the Wii U’s controller as portable as a 3DS.

“During the roundtable discussions there were such arguments about should we make it capable of being a standalone system or should we make it work only with the [base console] system,” he said. “We came to the conclusion that this controller is only going to show the images generated and processed by this hardware unit — and sent from the hardware unit wirelessly. That means sharper graphics. A battery couldn’t do that.”

But with the short-range base unit approach comes a wealth of benefits, including the HD graphics that Iwata mentioned.