Despite its assumed release date of 2012, Nintendo’s Wii U is still a bit of a wild-card. We don’t really know what to expect in terms of hardware, publisher support, or even launch titles. Which is all really weird considering how open Nintendo has been about people getting hands-on time with it. It was playable in limited form last year and was right out on the show floor in both their booth and third-party booths this year. We were able to get hands-on time with a few titles throughout the course of the show.
Nintendo is pitching Nintendoland as WiiU’s version of Wii Sports. They believe that it will be instantly accessible to everybody. That isn’t the case though. The reason that Wii Sports was so understandable is because the controller could be imagined as the object itself, you didn’t need to look at the screen, you could just swing the controller and you instantly knew what you were supposed to do.
Nintendoland isn’t that simple and we actually spent more time having the rules explained to us, than we did actually playing the game. On top of that, we needed five players and four Wii Remotes to play. That means that you need to purchase them, how is that as simple as Wii Sports?
We played two mini-games. They both utilized the same basic setup, where four players are using Wii Remotes and one is using a WiiU Gamepad. The first was based on Luigi’s Mansion and had the player with the Gamepad acting as a ghost, while the other four players were Miis and carried around flashlights. The ghost could see the location of all the other characters when he looked at the screen on his Gamepad, but the other players could not see the ghost on the main screen. The players attempted to shine their flashlight on the ghost long enough to drain his health to zero, while the ghost had to grab all four players and down them before they could be revived by one of their counterparts. It was simple and somewhat silly. It involved much more strategy that initially assumed and had way too many rules to be a quick party title.
The same went for Animal Crossing’s Sweet Day. It had the same setup as Luigi’s Ghost Mansion in terms of player controls. Except it required that Wii Remote players gather a certain number of candies from the trees while the Gamepad player controlled two players via each stick. They had to tackle three Wii Remote players before the minigame ended. It was short and exceptionally easy to game the system when playing on the Gamepad. ZombiU
ZombiU was one of the most interesting announcements of Ubisoft’s press conference, as it was totally unexpected. It is very out of the ordinary for Nintendo to show a hardcore, realistic zombie shooter, especially pre-launch. It just isn’t the style that they usually go for on their systems. The trailer seemed to be going after what Dead Island did so well two years ago and that worried me greatly.
Once I made my way to the Ubisoft booth to actually get some hands-on time with it, it did not disappoint. It was the first time that we had any indication of what the game actually was. The CG trailer shown during their conference did nothing more than tell us that it was a zombie game set in London.
What it actually is, is a hardcore, frightening Zombie shooter that utilizes the WiiU’s Gamepad in better ways than anything Nintendo has shown yet. The Gamepad houses all of your inventory, so when you need to swap something out or come across a crate worth looting, you have to look down at the Gamepad and start swapping items around. Nothing stops while you do this though, you aren’t invincible but rather, you’re completely exposed as your character leans down to dig through his backpack on the main screen.
That’s a horrifying concept, that while I’m looking away from the screen, Zombies are still coming at me. There’s more Gamepad integration than just inventory management though. When using scoped weapons, if you hold up the gamepad so that it is in between you and the screen, the scope will show on the Gamepad. You then rotate the direction that you are facing in the room to adjust where the scope is aiming. It works relatively well and didn’t feel like that much of a gimmick. Everything felt extremely tight and responsive, which is necessary for a game that leaves you exposed at all times, but is also extremely rare for games to get just right.
We’re still a while away from seeing more completed ideas formed about what to do with the WiiU hardware, but ZombiU and Nintendoland have us excited to see what will come to light as we approach the still-undecided launch date of the Nintendo WiiU.