Nintendo's brand new online social network Miiverse has had its ups and downs since it went live on Saturday night. And by that I mean it's actually been up and down, online and offline, since then.

When Miiverse is down it's still just about as good as Nintendo's previous online efforts for its consoles. When it's up, it just might be the beginning of something terrific.

In the video here, I'll walk you through it and show you some pretty cool stuff.

As with all things Nintendo, don't expect something that apes what the competition is doing. You'll see bits of Steam in what they're doing, but Nintendo has not re-created Xbox Live or PlayStation Network. They've not made a network that groups players together for party chat, and they've neglected to create system-wide Achievements. Instead, they've put their effort into what at first appears to just be some presumably-hospitable console-based message boards but could ultimately become a system that connects gamers in some extraordinarily useful ways.

This is a service that lets you pause a difficult game, screencap what was happening on your TV or GamePad controller, hop to a game-specific message board, post the image, type or scribble a question about how to get past a part of the game, go back to playing, and then get helpful replies from people who have played the same game. Not only is this a good idea, but it could give Nintendo license to make a Zelda game that is as packed full of esoteric screenshots.

Give this tour of Miiverse a look. Nintendo's on to something here. As long as they can keep the service online.


UPDATE: Just in case you weren't sure of the Miiverse's awesome potential...

Wach this. (There may or may not be an ACIII spoiler in the video; if I told you, you'd know if it was a spoiler or not. So watch at your own risk. Spoilers are supposed to be blocked on the service by users who post them. Those who break the rules can be reported to Miiverse moderators.)

Or just look at this...

Nintendo's Miiverse Isn't Xbox Live. It Might Be Something Better.

Thankfully the user includes a screenshot...

Nintendo's Miiverse Isn't Xbox Live. It Might Be Something Better.

One person was going on about Tupac, but this person has a different role model...

Nintendo's Miiverse Isn't Xbox Live. It Might Be Something Better.

And meet this kind-hearted member of the community...

Nintendo's Miiverse Isn't Xbox Live. It Might Be Something Better.

OK, we love Miiverse.


UPDATE 2: We can't resist. We're sharing one more. This is one of the most popular entries in the Miiverse community for New Super Mario Bros. U

Nintendo's Miiverse Isn't Xbox Live. It Might Be Something Better.