When the Wii hit the market in 2006, pretty much everyone on earth was suddenly obsessed with it. Nintendo's new motion control system had a kind of mass market appeal that reached outside of their established fan base and interested hardcore and casual gamers alike. For better or worse, Nintendo changed the industry forever, which they've probably become accustomed to by now.
Well, when Nintendo talks about the Wii U, they seem to think that they're on the cusp of another industry-changing launch, but I'm not so sure gamers would agree. In fact, I'm not even sure most gamers are aware of what Nintendo is trying to do.
If you were to take a casual poll of the people around you, there's a good chance that the crowd would be split between people who haven't ever heard of the Wii U and people who think it's another portable console. No one really seems to understand what Nintendo is trying to accomplish with the Wii U, and the casual observer certainly isn't using the words "asymmetric gameplay," which has practically become the company's catchphrase.
The problem is that motion controls are extraordinarily easy to understand. I mean, you just wave your freaking arms around and the game does stuff. However, asymmetric gameplay really is something that could change the industry, but it's significantly more difficult to explain, and Nintendo has been doing a pretty terrible job.
Just so we're all on the same page, I'm going to explain asymmetric gameplay. Listen up, Nintendo. This is how you should have been explaining it all along: Asymmetric gameplay is like Tag.
Remember playing tag when you were an adorable little elementary school student? (At my school, we played a game called "Push the Girls,” which was similar, but it doesn't make for as good a metaphor.) Tag is a game where one person is "it," while everyone else plays a similar role to one another. Well, if they ever make a version of tag on the Wii U, whoever is "it" would handle the tablet controller.
This new development model will allow devs to create games where individuals can play entirely unique roles, with an entirely unique control interface, but still be playing together in the same room. No more two-player splitscreen where you can simply take a quick peak at your friend's screen to see what they're up to (remember GoldenEye?).
If it takes off, asymmetric gameplay could change the way that developers think about games. However, it really is entirely up to the devs to come up with intelligent (and entertaining) ways to utilize the technology.
In the end, it's all going to come down to game quality. The system might be difficult to understand from a consumer perspective, but if a couple of developers can create a few truly brilliant titles that show off the Wii U's asymmetry, we might see Nintendo leading the way to yet another gaming revolution.
Either way, as long as they keep churning our Mario and Zelda games, I'll keep giving them all the money in my wallet.
Date: November 8, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*