Fresh off the bat after E3 we were given the chance to try out the new Wii U console as well as some of the titles expected at the consoles launch. Whilst we’ve already given you our views on the Wii U console, here’s what you can expect from just some of the launch titles.
Jumping straight to Wii U exclusive titles, Super Mario Bros U is the in essence the classic Mario Bros experience that we usually expect from Nintendo. The Wii U GamePad can be used to play the singleplayer using the pad screen or in multiplayer as an ‘assistant’, replicating the main screen and allowing the assistant to place blocks for the other players to jump on and use as platforms to hidden areas.
Nintendoland and Game & Wario are the Wii U’s party games, offering a variety of different (and often hilarious) party games for people to play. Nintendoland offered a number of mini-games based on the titles under the Nintendo umbrella, from Animal Crossing to Legend of Zelda, for up to five players to play. Game & Wario offers a more ‘Warioware’ spin to these mini games that all manage to use the Wii U pad to its potential. As with Nintendo’s previous hits these will be great games for party and family play.
Pikmin 3 was also on show and surprised us a little bit. The game looks stunning on the Wii U and the game mechanics are as solid as the rest of the series, going round with little Pikmin to find others to help you fight enemies and getting resources to your ship. The Wii U GamePad however was not used at all to aid the gameplay and all controls were done via the Wii-mote. Whilst the game was fun to play with the new control scheme, it does feel more like a Wii release that has been delayed to be a Wii U launch title.
Project P-100 had a similar feel to Pikmin and it perplexed us that there hasn’t been too much mentioned about this title. The game focuses on you, the hero, going from level to level rescuing people who then add to the strength of the group, in a similar style to Pikmin. How Project P-100 differs however is that you can use the group as a weapon by drawing the form you want the group to take on the Wii U touchpad, ranging from a powerfist, gun, or sword; each with their own strengths and weaknesses to take out the enemies as you go through the level.
The cartoon style and battle play the game employed was very entertaining and reminded us of the superhero cartoons we used to watch all those years ago. Every now and again through the level on indoor sections the pad would switch to a third person perspective of the view inside the buildings to carry out a mini game puzzle as well.
ZombiU by Ubisoft is a zombie apocalypse game set in London which sees the player dropped into the world to carry out various objectives and survive the zombie horde. It’s your standard zombie survival game with similarities to Left4Dead and is one of the stronger titles with Wii U functionality.
The GamePad is used to drag and drop items for the inventory, as the in-game map, the view for scoped weapons, and for puzzles such as picking locks. The most interesting gameplay mechanic however is that if you die, you lose your current inventory and start over as a fresh new character. In order to regain your items you would need to find your previous dead corpse in the same world to regain all the stuff your previous character dropped, giving the game a sense of continuity of play.
Rayman Legends, the sequel to the highly praised Rayman Origins, is already looking to be as fun and delightful as Origins. We only got to see the co-op portion of the game to show off what the Wii U GamePad could do, and it looks to be a much more influential companion role than the other games we previewed.
The variety of tasks the assistant was needed for, such as assisting Rayman in getting to inaccessible areas as well as clearing paths, and the fact that it went so smoothly with the other player, felt like a good fit for the game and Wii U controller. It was definitely the most fun game to demo at the show.
A few of the games we got hands on with were of course ported versions of their current console/PC counterparts, some pulling off the transition better than others. Taking into account the unfinished status of these titles still in development, we took the flaws with a slight grain of salt.
Scribblenauts Unlimited and Trine 2 handled the port well, taking full use of the new Wii U GamePad, so much so that all attention focused on the pad rather than the TV which simply duplicated the view. Players of the touch version of Scribblenauts on the iPad and iPhone will find the identical game mechanics at work here in this fun filled title.
Trine 2’s functionality with the mouse of course replaced with handy new touch screen controls that were especially helpful playing the wizard role, able to move and control objects a lot easier.
Also on display were Ninja Gaiden 3 and the Batman Armoured Edition. Given their current generation releases we expected these games to be pushing the Wii U’s graphics abilities to their fullest but were let down. The games looking on par with early launch titles of the PS3 and 360 and not matching how their look on other platforms.
The additional Wii U functionality also felt somewhat bolted on with Ninja Gaiden simply having a combo list display and being easier to play with the ‘Pro’ pad. Whilst Arkham City made use of the pads motion sensors to control the various gadgets on offer, it failed to really add anything dramatic to the games experience.
It’s interesting to see how developers have handled the addition of the Wii U GamePad and used it within their games. At this stage it seems like developers are testing the water with what it can do and using it mainly as an inventory companion or secondary display. When the pad is used to its full potential as a core gaming element in it’s titles is where the Wii U looks most promising.
Most of the games on show at the preview event listed have listed “Holiday 2012” as their launch window and so we can expect these launch titles and the Wii U to launch by the end of the year.