Ever since they announced the gamepad and how it would work with the games for the Wii U, I’ve been intrigued. Nintendo always has an interesting approach to changing the way we game. When the Wii came out, it was a new concept and re-introduced technologies that we had been playing around with in the SNES days. Of course back then, the calibration for the super scope was a little more annoying than the wii-motes. While the process is not entirely gone, it has been made significantly less painful in the latest two systems.
Then there was Zelda. Platformer RPG, brilliantly done, with one major flaw in every single iteration past ocarina of time. The camera. Since there was only one joystick on the N64 controller (yet 5 different ways of holding it), the camera wasn’t controlled by a joystick like it is in many games today. Ocarina of time first showed us how important it is to have a 360 degree viewing angle to see the entire room, and have enough information to solve all of the puzzles and survive all of the attacks.
The solution was to use the trigger button on the bottom side of the controller to force the camera to line up with where Link was looking. This solved the problem, but in a lot of cases, was clunky, slow, and really annoying.
Thankfully, the dual analog joysticks on the gamepad seems to fix this. While I have not had a chance to play Zelda with this new controller yet, I’ve seen it’s use in the famed ZombiiU game. My reaction?
As with most first person shooters on consoles, the first thing I did was something that most people hate. Inverted Y-Axis on looking, but kept Y-Axis the same on everything else. Then turned the sensitivity to the midpoint of the scale. Of course after this, the sensitivity needed about 20 minutes of tinkering with until I was happy with it, but overall, I’m generally pleased. It is a step in the right direction.
The use of the gamepad’s speakers for the radio, and the gamepad’s display as your radar and scanning device really adds another immersion factor into the experience. Overall, I’d say the use of the gamepad is top notch here. I’d give it a 9/10 taking 1 point off just due to the frustrating process of tinkering with sensitivity settings.
Next up, Super Mario Brothers Wii U. The heart of what I wanted to talk about.
Wow. 10/10. No questions asked. The use of the joysticks is irrelevant for me, since it’s a platformer, and I’m used to playing Mario with the D-Pad anyways. Gamepad allows you to play Mario while keeping the TV free to watch Clemson get creamed by South Carolina again. The graphics are as crisp and clear as they are from the TV, and the audio is just as entertaining.
When we put this to the test in multiplayer, well it became sort of evil. Multiplayer with the gamepad allows the gamepad player to place blocks to help the other players reach secret areas or get past certain hard spots in the game. That or place blocks in the level that made it impossible to progress. Say a player is jumping across a gap. Place a block while he’s in mid-air and watch them fall to their doom. Reverse cogs in castles so that it keeps pushing you backwards. Evil incarnate, but so much fun.
While these are the only two games that I saw worth getting out of the tiny set of games available release day, I can see that the WiiU has the potential to be very successful. Moreso than the Wii, and moreso than even the SNES. HOWEVER, this is up to Nintendo, and game publishers to make sure that games for this system are released soon. While Nintendo has a good track record of making games great for general audiences, there is a “fad factor” to this system, and not having the list of games that people want for this system could very well kill it. As we’ve seen with the sega dreamcast, it could mean the end of the line for the company as well if they fail to deliver. Nintendo has been playing catchup ever since the PS3 and Xbox360. Now they’re ahead, but need to prove it.