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How the Wii U Will Change How We Game

by on May 17, 2012
 

How the Wii U Will Change How We Game

We’re just a few short weeks away from E3. With the potential announcement of new consoles by Microsoft and Sony seeming increasingly unlikely, Nintendo has a golden opportunity to steal the show with the Wii U and score an early victory in the next generation console wars.

Since last year’s E3 presentation, Nintendo has been surprisingly quiet on the Wii U front. For the past 11 months, we’ve heard nothing but brief snippets of mostly uninteresting information. It seems likely that Nintendo has been withholding information in an effort to place a greater emphasis on their E3 press conference where they will give a hard sell for the Wii U.

Nintendo’s conference on June 5th will certainly give us more information about Nintendo’s upcoming console. While I’m eager to get some clarification on the various rumors regarding the Wii U’s innards, as in specs, I’m more interested in seeing how the Wii U’s tablet controller will impact the way we game. Here are some potential ways that the Wii U can enhance our gaming experience.

Wii Would Like To Organize

I really like variety. While playing Skyrim I changed my weapon and armor repeatedly like a medieval ass kicking Madonna. I also liked to toy around with all of the various spells at my disposal, conjuring flame atronachs, shooting waves of ice, and muffling my footsteps for some stealth action.

While I loved the fact that Skyrim gave me such a varied set of choices, the interface for switching between these choices left a bit to be desired. Despite the ability to have preset items, switching between my weapons was still clunkier than I’d have liked. Using a variety of spells was also bit of a chore, and after a while I completely gave up on buff and debuff magic out of sheer laziness. Throughout my gameplay experience, I continually wished that I had played the game on PC rather than my X-Box 360. The dual stick controller simply wasn’t very good at navigating Skyrim’s web of menus.

A more efficient way to manage inventory may not sound too exciting, but this subtle change can make a huge difference in gameplay.  It’s not hard to imagine how much smoother games like Resident Evil 4, Skyrim, Darksiders, and Zelda would play with such an enhanced interface.

Wii Would Like To Skype

 

We know for sure that Arkham City is headed to the Wii U. In Arkham City, Batman is in constant contact with various characters from the Batman Universe. Batman uses his Bat-phone to get tips from Barbara Gordon, AKA Oracle, to communicate with his faithful butler Alfred, and he even spends some time chatting with good ol’ Joker.

Voice chat is so passe. Video chatting is the wave of the future. In the Wii U’s version of Arkham City, I should be able to see Joker’s smiling face on my U-Tab as he hurls threats at Batman. Will this change the gameplay in any real way? No, not really. It would be really cool though, and it would contribute to a higher level of immersion in the game universe.

Wii Would Like To Spy

 

If the Wii U is going to capture the traditional market, it is essential that they convince traditional gamers that the Wii U is the ideal console for an FPS. One aspect that the touch screen can really be useful for is reconnaissance. Imagine for instance that you were able to plant a bug in a room or an area. After placing this bug, you and your teammates would be able to see what was happening in bugged area on their U-Tab. This simple addition could prove to be a huge feature, allowing teams to monitor popular sniping spots, or in the case of Halo style games, key weapon spawn points.  The ability to share information more efficiently can have revolutionary implications for squad based shooters.

To take things a step further, players could be able to set up turrets at key locations. The turrets-eye view would be shown on the U-tab screen. With the Wii U’s gyroscopic controls, you’d be able to remotely aim and operate the turret while still controlling your character with the U-tab’s analog sliders and face buttons.

Wii Would Like To Snipe

 

Another feature for the FPS crowd, this one is a no brainer. In Wii U shooters, you can expect to use the U-tab screen as a virtual sniper scope. This will allow players to easily monitor the whole battlefield while being able to simply look down for a zoomed in view.

This idea can be useful even outside the confines of war. One game that would have been able to make excellent use of this feature is Dead Rising. One of my favorite parts of Dead Rising was the ability to take photographs of the undead abominations ready to take a bite of my scalp. Unfortunately, switching to camera mode meant completely sacrificing your ability to see around you. With the U-tab, players would be able to see the game’s traditional third person view on their top screen, use the U-tab’s buttons to navigate around the undead horde, and aim with gyroscope controls. This set up would be easier to manage and more engaging.

Looking back to Nintendo’s own games, the U-tab would make an excellent visor for the Metroid Prime series. Simply holding the U-tab in front of the screen would enable you to view the world through Samus’ trademark scan visor.

Wii Would Like To Cooperate

 

Local co-op has always been limited by hardware. In most co-op games the second player is forced to stay in close proximity to the first player. Unless you happen to have a Playstation 3D Display, you might find yourself working with half a screen.

The Wii U could potentially revolutionize the way we play together. We know for a fact that New Super Mario Bros. will be coming to the Wii U, so let’s use that as a starting point. Suppose you’re playing with a buddy and you spy a tantalizing pipe. You stand on the pipe and press down as your years of experience have taught you to do. Suddenly, you’re in an underground cave, while your friend continues his adventures above ground.

That’s just the beginning though. Imagine you’re playing a Zelda style game. You and your best gal pal just tore through a dungeon and you’ve reached the final boss. You suddenly realize that you don’t have the weapon you need to fell the beast. Uh oh.

You instruct your friend to hold off the monster while you head deeper into the dungeon. As the two warriors lock horns, you solve one final puzzle to retrieve the necessary item and rejoin your friend in glorious victory.

As one last example, let’s suppose you’re playing a medieval era game where you must assassinate a king or some other political figure. The king’s stronghold is well fortified, and rushing in would be suicide. You decide to draw out the king’s forces with a frontal attack while a long soldier infiltrates the castle. While your friend takes the reigns of your armies in a RTS style game on the U-tab, you engage in some Metal Gear style stealth action on the TV.

Wii Would Like To Create

One of my favorite games of the last generation was the vastly under-appreciated Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. Nuts and Bolts allowed players to create various vehicles to aid Banjo in his quest for assorted collectables. The game’s seemingly simple creation tools gave gamers the ability to create virtually anything they could think of. One of the problems with this game is that the interface could be generously described as clunky.

A dual stick controller simply isn’t the proper tool for creating in games like Nuts and Bolts or Little Big Planet 2. The U-tab will give gamers the precision needed to design their own vehicles and levels, and will enable them to instantly switch back to standard controls when it’s time to play with their creations.

Wii Would Like To Socialize

 

The Wii was a little, ok a lot, behind the 8-ball in the online gaming world. The Wii’s online interface was arguably worse than the service offered by Microsoft with the original X-Box. This time around, Nintendo has the potential to create one of the smoothest online interfaces around by utilizing the U-tab controller.

It’s not hard to imagine the U-tab being used as a social hub. With the unique controller gamers could easily keep track of their fellow gamers’ activities without interrupting the flow of a game. Between the U-tab’s touch screen, microphone, and camera, you should be able to quickly and efficiently communicate with friends.  With the Wii U’s unique feature set, you could keep tabs on what your gaming friends are up to even while you’re watching TV shows, or watching a film on Netflix.   If Nintendo is smart, the Wii U’s controller can allow us to take advantage of Facebook and other social networks while gaming like no console has in the past.

The Wii U’s tablet would be a godsend for social games such as Ninteno’s Animal crossing, providing a window into the towns of other gamers. The tablet could also help Nintendo break into the lucrative market of browser based games such as Farmville. Better yet, the U-tab could lead to richer clan and community features for games like Mario Kart, Super Smash Brothers, and Battlefield.

Wii Would Like Your Opinion

Those are just the ideas that I’ve come up with for how I’d like to see the Wii U’s tablet controller used in games. Hopefully, developers have already been coming up with better and more creative uses. How about you? What would you like to see from the Wii U and its tablet controller? Sound off in the comments section below.

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