One of the best things the Nintendo website publishes is Iwata Asks, where president and CEO Satoru Iwata discusses upcoming games and hardware with the designers and engineers that make them. They always look like they are having a good time, and no matter what, the translation has at least five instances of “(laughs)” written down. There were interviews like this before Iwata’s time, but they were called Yamauchi Demands. …not as popular.

In any case, this Iwata Asks (now in its sixth year!) is all about the Wii U hardware. The panel has all of the main players in the design and oversight of the Wii U console.

Interestingly, or in true Nintendo fashion, they let the acceptance of HD TV permeate the marketplace before designing a console that utilized HD so that when they did make that console, most of the households could benefit from it.

Thank you. When making a new gaming device, what takes the most time is selecting and considering the parts. How did it begin for Wii U?

First of all, for the Japanese television, the transition to digital HD terrestrial transmission was completed all over Japan. And much of the world has also switched to HD TV sets, so you could say that HD has become the new SD.

HD has become the standard.

Yes. But on the contrary, Wii supports only SD. The Wii U development kicked off when we thought that we should adapt ourselves to the new HD standard for making everyone enjoy the benefits of home HD TV sets. Our philosophy is that we want to make something that everyone could enjoy the same way under the same circumstances in many different households of the greatest number.

They go on do discuss how the chips made for the console are housed all on one component. The different pieces are all made by separate manufacturers. This made for tough times when one of the pieces had issues. They had to figure out how to track down the problem and from what company it arose.

The Wii U console, as they describe, is mostly a “stagehand” in the experience, with the GamePad taking center stage.

But the staff members who were thinking up the structure of the casing might have trouble staying motivated if told that what they were working so hard on what was no more than a “stagehand,” so it must have been a quite difficult task.

Yes. I could understand what Takeda-san meant, but for those in charge of it, it was a little cheerless and we went about our work solemnly.

Solemnly. (laughs) Being a stagehand comes with its own kind of pride.

Kitano Yeah. (laughs) And the Wii U has the GamePad, so we adopted a policy of drastically reducing the characteristics of the main console, causing it to stand out even less. (laughs)

From here, they discuss the horizontal nature of the Wii U, how they and their partner companies came together to iron out bugs, and the designers’ opinions on what consumers should pay attention to the most with the console. And there are lots of pictures!

So take some time and read this Iwata Asks, and by the way, they laugh 18 times.