Wii U and I: Hands-On with Nintendo’s Wii U

Wii U and I: Hands-On with Nintendo’s Wii U

The Wii started out as a pretty glorious experiment. Motion control was something that seemed like future technology at the time, and everyone saw the Wii as the future of gaming. While the Wii has delivered several high-quality gaming experiences over the years, the fact is that with only barebones support from third-party developers, and some pretty awful motion controls in its early days, the Wii left many hardcore gamers cold. Nintendo has identified this, and in their recent E3 keynote address admitted that they needed to serve a “wider” audience of gamers with their next console – the Wii U.

Wii U Controller

Wii U Console
Wii U console.

First, let’s talk about hardware. No specs were given about the console itself so the only thing we can really talk about with authority is the Wii U’s controller. The controller does indeed have the much-rumored 6-inch touch screen at its center, and it is surrounded by the same face buttons that you see on the classic controller. 
The twin thumb sticks are absent though and have been replaced with the leaner circle pads that are featured on the 3DS. In addition to the buttons on the front, there are trigger and bumper buttons on the back.

Sharp Display

Adventure Time Cover
Adventure Time game available to play on Wii U.

Everything from motion blur to lighting and even water effects looked on par with what you would expect from a top-of-the-line developer on any of the other two consoles. The Wii U unquestionably equals the graphical power of what is out there already. The touchscreen display is bright and vivid and features the same beautiful visual quality that you see on the HD television display.

Game Tested Player Approved

Epic Mickey
Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two playable on Wii U.

The true test of the Wii U’s potential as a legitimate gaming platform came with the next three experiences. Three games played that passed the test of its potential were Metroid-inspired shooter, an HD Mario game, and a hide-and-seek mini-game. These game experiences all used the controller in new ways.

The shooter was particularly impressive, as you could use the controller to pilot a spaceship and shoot down human enemies with amazing precision. The hide-and-seek experience also gave a rough idea of what the Wii U can do. The game was a simple hide and seek simulator, but the twist was that the one doing the hiding uses the controller and has a top-down view of the environment and can watch other characters as they search for them. This makes it easy to sneak around in characters’ blind spots and play the game strategically in a way not possible when you are limited to just one screen.

The Mario sample played was the most straightforward sample played and featured all the 2D platforming you’ve come to expect from the series. The game was modeled after New Super Mario Bros. Wii allowed up to four people to play co-op. You can play with the Wii-Mote or the Wii U controller, and both options feel natural; there really is no benefit to using either. The only thing that the Wii U controller brings to the experience is the fact that the Mario game could be streamed and played through the Wii U controller without the TV.

Parting Remarks

Though the controller unit is quite large, the Wii U’s controller is surprisingly light, only a little bit heavier than a Wii-Mote. This said, the Wii U is an investment worth making. 

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