The Void was invited how to play with the Nintendo’s latest creation, The Wii U. Louise Ault went to have a play.
I was certainly geared up to see if Nintendo’s latest device would offer a bit more for the extreme gamers like myself… unlike the Wii. It seems Nintendo were also curious about this, as the minute I arrived I was chaperoned by representatives asking me for my in-depth feedback from a woman’s point of view.
Set out for the event was an array of stands set up with games and consoles, each with a Nintendo employee there to explain how to play the title. Upstairs were the family, multiplayer-orientated games including Nintendo Land (a theme park of mini Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong themed games) & Pikmin. Downstairs were the more serious gamer stands including Batman, Zombie U, and Ninja Gaiden 3.
I was sceptical of the Wii U control pad before I picked up. It’s large and with the controls spread far apart it looked bulky, and uncomfortable. However, due to a layout not dissimilar to the Xbox controller it was fairly comfortable to operate.
The first game I played was Batman Arkham City. This utilised the Wii U game pad screen the best of all games, with touch-operated weapon selection and a spy mode facility to sense hidden objects (only seen on the Wii U game pad screen, not on the TV.)
However, the motion sensitivity of the pad really needs to be worked on before release. The slightest of movement and the action onscreen darts all over the place. This would be highly frustrating if it wasn’t saved by the control sticks either side allowing you to operate characters/levels via that method if you get too frustrated with the motion sensors. Just as well, otherwise I can see Nintendo’s precious touch pad screen being smashed over the sofa by frustrated users.
There is no facility to adjust or calibrate the pad’s sensitivity which I noted, so be prepared to spend some time training yourself on it.
Zombie U was the most anticipated game downstairs. I was not able to have a go due to queues, but did watch intently.
Essentially House Of The Dead set in London; Zombie U in itself was nothing to write home about other than the fact it was made especially for the Wii U console. The touch pad control has very little use here also. However, it represents a positive step by Nintendo to start to look at games that appeal to ‘gamers’ and a wider crowd than solely families.
During the event a demonstration of a new karaoke game was shown several times.
The idea was the Wii U Touch pad gamer sang the song and others could dance along to the animated figure’s instructions on the screen.
I could tell by the bored expression on other guests faces they had the same view that not only was this nothing fresh to bring to the table, it was also definitely not the way to persuade ‘serious gamers’ back to the Nintendo consoles. It was only due to wandering that I stumbled across the Wii U Birds Eye View display at the side. I was highly surprised Nintendo didn’t make more of a fuss over this stall than the karaoke game constantly being demoed.
This was by a long shot the most impressive example of the Wii U’s capabilities. It allows the user to see an environment on the screen (the Rio Carnival, sky, or on a canal in Japan.) If you stand back and move the Wii U pad away from the screen, in all directions, you can see a 360 view of things not displayed on the TV, even if you have your back turned to it. For example, with the Rio Carnival if you turn around and move around with the game pad you see performers, floats, and other points of interest.
If Nintendo utilise this with future games in the making it would drastically improve the console’s overall appeal. If more serious games like the equivalent of a Halo or Gears Of War were released for Wii U with Birds Eye View incorporated as part of the game play, it would be a small revolutionary step into the fully, three dimensional immersive gaming atmosphere; something gamers are constantly dreaming of.
Back upstairs, I tried a multiplayer match on Nintendo Land. This is where the Wii U falls down again on multiplayer. Only player one has the touch screen game pad. Players two, three and four have the regular Wii remotes. The idea is player one (with the Wii U pad) is the main player and the others help them on their quest. For example, in Zelda the Wii U pad operator has a bow and arrow to complete the mission and all other players (Wii remotes) have to kill surrounding enemies to help them get through to do their tasks. It wasn’t in any way fun and took the whole point out of a multiplayer. It is apparent why this might appeal to families or young children, but Nintendo need to think about moving away from this on all other games or losing even their original Wii fanbase.
Essentially the Wii U offers very little new to the gaming world, which is disappointing when Nintendo prides itself as an innovative company. For gamers it seems their devices are more like fun gadgets, where the real enjoyable gaming is delivered by Sony’s PlayStation or Microsoft’s Xbox with a better range of games and a more powerful gaming interface overall.
However, if they develop the Birds Eye view platform fully and use it for games like Zombie U further down the line then they could have the start of something truly special on their hands…