Nintendo's Wii U: I'm pleasantly surprised

23:11, Oct 29 2012

I have to admit that till two weeks ago, I hadn't given Nintendo's Wii U much of a second glance. I mean the new console's touch-screen GamePad sounded pretty cool but I hadn't devoted much thought to it. But now that I've played the Wii U, I've changed my mind about Nintendo's new console and believe that it's going to sell well when it's launched at the end of next month.

Christchurch doesn't get a lot of game publishers visiting the city. In fact, until Nintendo reps from Australia came calling a couple of weeks ago to show off the Wii U and first-party games Nintendoland and New Super Mario Bros U, I can't actually remember the last time a big-name game publisher made the effort to travel south and show off its wares outside of the North Island.

There wasn't a lot on show at the demonstration - there were just three TVs connected to Wii Us and two games - but what I saw has impressed me enough to make me optimistic about the console and its touch-screen GamePad, which brings a whole new dimension to games where it is used uniquely.

The only two games on show were Nintendoland - which is a collection of games based on 12 Nintendo franchises such as Metroid, The Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing - and New Super Mario Bros U, which has appeared on the Nintendo DS and 3DS, but the addition of the touch pad made it a hell of a lot of fun to play games like Takamaru's Ninja Castle, where you have to fling ninja stars at enemy ninjas, and Luigi's Ghost Mansion, a game for up to five players where the player controlling the ghost being hunted uses the GamePad's screen to see what's happening.

Animal Crossing: Sweet Day also used the GamePad interestingly, in that a player using the GamePad controls two knife- and fork-wielding guards who must pounce on the other players before they collect the target amount of lollies dropped from trees. Each guard is controlled by the GamePad's analogue sticks and while it took a few attempts to work out how to move them independently, after a bit it was easy enough to trap other players into corners by using the two sticks.

In another game, Donkey Kong's Crash Course, you use the GamePad's tilt functionality to guide a trolley down an obstacle-laden course where you use the left and right triggers to activate platforms and ramps. In The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest the player with the GamePad controls a character armed with a bow and arrow and you aim by moving the touch pad about, then fire an arrow by pulling back on the left analogue stick. In Super Mario Bros U, there is a two-player mode where the player using the GamePad can tap the controller's touch screen to add blocks to the game screen to help Mario reach coins in high places. The player with the Wii U GamePad can also tap on enemies to stun them.


Also at the Nintendo show case was the Nintendo 3DS XL, the newer, larger revision of the original Nintendo 3DS, which apparently has screens that are 90 per cent larger than the original 3DS. After playing on the 3DS XL, I can vouch that the screen is much larger and it's much easier to see thnigs on that than on the 3DS. Going from the 3DS XL back to my small-screened 3DS was quite a shock for my eyes, I can tell you.

So, I'm interested to see how the Wii U does now that I've had time with it and also to see how the GamePad's screen is used in games like Batman Arkham City: Armoured Edition, ZombieU, Mass Effect 3 and Aliens Colonial Marines.

So, how often have you had your gaming opinion changed once you actually played a game or piece of hardware that you originally brushed off as not worth your time?

Also, how was your gaming weekend?

Other stuff you might be interested in: Game Junkie is on Twitter and you can email him here. He'll even answer your emails, not get some smart robot to do it. He also has another gaming blog here, which was actually updated recently. You should check it out.