Editorial: Hands-on with the Wii U, and why it disappointed

Nintendo should have "won" the show at E3 this year. But E3 failed to show first-party games that show off exactly what the Wii U is capable of.

Nintendo should have "won" the show at E3 this year. Heading into the show, our excitement was palpable. We predicted Nintendo would steal the show, because it would finally wow us with a variety of first-party games that would showcase precisely what the Wii U was capable of. Instead, we simply got a variety of first-party party games, ones that didn't add any meaningful depth to the shallow mini-game showcases that plagued the Wii library. I got hands-on time with Nintendo Land, the publisher's showcase title for the Wii U, a collection of branded mini-games. Then, I got hands-on with Game & Wario, another mini-game collection. Finally, I got to play Wii Fit U, another collection of fitness-themed mini-games. As with most first-party efforts, there's certainly a lot of polish and charm in these party games. However, it's hard to say I've touched the future of gaming after playing these demos. While I genuinely believe Nintendo's multi-screen approach to the Wii U can result in genuinely new experiences, I saw a distressing lack of originality at Nintendo's E3 booth. For example, one of Nintendo Land's mini-games--Donkey Kong's Crash Course--had me staring at the tablet. There was no reason to switch views, because the game was identical across both screens. Sure, it took advantage of the GamePad's built-in motion sensing tech, but I'm not entirely sure how this experience couldn't be replicated on any other gyroscopic device--Vita, 3DS, iOS, and Wii included. Wii Fit U also gave me no reason to look at both screens. Whether I was rowing a boat, or using a fire hose, I felt like all of these experiences could have been done just as well on any other tilt-based device.

Pac-Man VS had a Gamecube player against Game Boy Advance players

Asynchronous multiplayer is definitely the biggest draw of the Wii U. Luigi's Ghost Mansion, thoroughly detailed at the Nintendo E3 press conference, is probably one of the few examples of multiplayer that worked. But I also couldn't help but think it played a bit like Pac-Man Vs. on the Gamecube. That game connected Gamecube and Game Boy Advance in a set-up that's not unlike Wii U. If you're not familiar with it, it's because it didn't take off. Perhaps most disconcerting of all is that New Super Mario Bros U was the laziest showcase of Wii U's capabilities. Mario games have long been a showcase for Nintendo's hardware: Super Mario 64 defined 3D platforming, Super Mario Galaxy convincingly added motion controls, and Super Mario 3D Land proved that 3D doesn't have to be a gimmick. New Super Mario Bros U, however, lets you use the touch screen to add additional platforms to the screen--far from the revolution typically represented by the franchise. If there's one publisher that "gets" the Wii U, it's not Nintendo. Rather, it's Ubisoft. Rayman Legends proved to be the best game for the platform available at the show, with a multi-screen multiplayer experience that took advantage of everything the system had to offer. It's hard to have confidence in the Wii U if Nintendo's own first-party studios can't squeeze the originality seen in this one third-party game.
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  • reply
    June 8, 2012 12:30 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Editorial: Hands-on with the Wii U, and why it disappointed.

    Nintendo should have "won" the show at E3 this year. But E3 failed to show first-party games that show off exactly what the Wii U is capable of.

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      June 8, 2012 12:47 PM

      Ouch, doesn't sound too good

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      June 8, 2012 12:48 PM

      You know Garnet was too hung-over to do this. :) Dude... *WHERLP* ... Andy... you gotta cover me today.

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        June 8, 2012 2:08 PM

        You'll see the humor in this statement on today's Shacknews Daily. ;)

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      June 8, 2012 1:06 PM

      this is a horrible article how do you manage to completely ignore pikmin 3 which does JUST what you're complaining about holy shit. it's pretty much the proof of concept for the entire system.

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        June 8, 2012 2:17 PM

        I won't lie--Pikmin 3 looks great. But I expected a lot more from Nintendo than what they actually ended up showing.

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        June 8, 2012 3:35 PM

        I previewed Pikmin 3 and it was pretty great. But one game at launch can't make the whole console. I was really hoping to see more besides this and another 2D Mario. I do agree with Andrew that Ubisoft could potentially do great things with what they've got coming up.

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          June 11, 2012 4:37 AM

          Really how many games does one need at launch? Launch lineups are in general very poor. One great game is rare, one good game is rare, 5 ports is even rare, sometime one needs to remind themselves of the last 5 console launches yikes:)

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        June 8, 2012 3:38 PM

        Pikmin 3 was great, ZombiU was great, and Rayman Legends was great. NSMB:U goes without saying, can't wait.

        I really liked the WiiU stuff they had to show.

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          June 8, 2012 4:57 PM

          was Platinum's game on hand anywhere for demo-ing?

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        June 8, 2012 3:38 PM

        How is Pikmin 3 proof of concept? Nintendo's gameplay trailer used the Wiimote and nunchuck then spoke of the Wii U gamepad after. Clearly it's not proof of concept when you can play the game without the gamepad, which by the looks of the footage, is the best way to play.

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        June 11, 2012 2:11 AM

        It's because older Nintendo fans didn't grow up with it like they did Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Mario Kart, etc, and it's a niche genre that not everyone likes. As much as the younger generation Pikmin lovers have been vocal about getting Pikmin 3, it should have been a Wii title. The GameCube's failure proved Pikmin is not launch title material and Nintendo should have learned from that.

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          June 11, 2012 2:14 AM

          Oh and lest we forget one of the biggest reasons the Wii took off so quickly - Zelda at launch. They had a majorly anticipated title by new and old fans alike ready that used the system's new features well. Pikmin 3 uses the Wii U to its fullest, but not everyone likes Pikmin like Zelda.

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            June 11, 2012 4:29 AM

            Lol Zelda isn't exactly the top tier seller for Nintendo, yes it's a core game but it's not a top 5 franchise.

            1. Mario kart
            2. Smash bros.
            3. 2D Mario
            4. sports
            5. fit
            6. Pokemon
            7. 3D Mario
            8. Mini game

            Link is just one of the faces reality is its a expensive franchise to make, and not hoping off the store shelves.

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      June 8, 2012 1:09 PM

      Complain complain. If they'd added tablet/waggle/whatever to all of their games, people'd complain that they were forced to use it when it wasn't necessary. Leave it out and they complain it's left out. If your biggest complaint is that they didn't try to force the tablet onto you at every turn, I consider it a win and a sign that they've matured beyond the state where they try to force it onto you in every possible way. The tablet will be cool, and it will have it's uses. I'm just glad to hear that it's not replacing common sense.

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        June 8, 2012 1:12 PM

        The biggest complaint wasn't that they didn't force tablet stuff into everything, it was that they didn't do something compelling with it in anything

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      June 8, 2012 1:27 PM

      Polish and charm be damned, where is teh futuer ov gaeming?!

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      June 8, 2012 1:32 PM

      will this mark the return to PC gaming?

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      June 8, 2012 1:51 PM

      In before RuskiSnipa defends WiiU..

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        June 9, 2012 12:22 PM

        Mhm, this article isn't making the point though, the fact that it was a bit dissapointing is because there was no killer stuff shown and no talk about the hardware. It wasnt enough for core audience.

        What this article tries to argue as to blame it for dissapointment is invalid.
        The dual screen idea is totally not something that has to be strictly limited looking at the both screens at the same time, as a matter of fact, this is ridicolous for most games as you can only focus on one at a time or switching quickly ...

        So the fundamental reason this article stands upon is flawed, it is also poor subjective opinion, very unfounded.

        The general audience doesnt have brains, they need the company to show and explain them, if the company doest do this enough the system seems useless as the mainstre is obviously not able to get an idea of how it would work best, people are lazy too ...it is all a perception, just because you dont know about it, doesnt mean its impossible.

        Plese start understanding the possibilities, start thinking open minded, dont relying on stupid mainstream buzzwords, they are made to be catchy, addictive, they dont explain anything, are inaccurate and misleading.

        Everything that was shown and said ... is simply totally different than what most people percieve; they don't actually take their time to look about it, they dont know shit, they hear about it and start say bs and stupid questions, they cant even google wiki to get basic info.

        So what the actual fan who hunts down every bit of onfo thinks and what some typical gamer does, is usually very different or even completely opposite.

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      June 8, 2012 2:12 PM

      The Wii U just looks like another company trying to be Apple without possessing an ounce of Apple DNA. Zero interest from me.

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      June 8, 2012 2:18 PM

      Nintendo seems a bit lost lately - like they don't know what they want. I'm not ready to call long-term failure on the WiiU (The DS certainly survived inital mockery) but they're most certainly not coming out strong here.

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      June 8, 2012 3:44 PM

      They actually did have the makings of a good showing there - there were three or four solid Wii U games (not mindblowing, but solid), and a similar showing on the 3DS. If they'd chosen to do a combined show with Zombi U, Pikmin, Rayman, AC3 demoed for the Wii and Castlevania and paper mario and whatnot shown off all in a single hour, I imagine it would have worked out pretty well.

      Instead, no one even watched their 3DS show and the Wii U show focused on things like NintendoLand which are virtually impossible to demo well on stage. I really don't understand.

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      June 8, 2012 4:52 PM

      I'd argue that Super Mario Galaxy did nothing to justify motion controls. It had an annoying waggle, and a weird not-really-coop star collection pointer mechanic. None of it needed to be motion controlled, and nothing about the motion controls added to the experience.

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        June 8, 2012 5:24 PM

        Agreed, I thought that description was a little odd too, Galaxy would've been no less a game on the GC.

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          June 8, 2012 5:35 PM

          I agree also, as a matter of fact, the levels in Super Mario Sunshine where you are in space or whatever seem similar to what you were doing in SMG.

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            June 8, 2012 5:37 PM

            The article isn't helped by the fact that the 3D in Super Mario Land 3D can be entirely turned off - this heavily implies that it is, in fact, a gimmick... just a well executed on.

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              June 8, 2012 5:39 PM

              Aren't most 3DS games built that way though so the younger kids can still play them? The 3D stuff I've seen is gimmicky in a way that it's not necessary, although neat. I play most games in 2D personally. My 5 year old finished SML3D fully in 2D.

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                June 8, 2012 6:05 PM

                I think they're actually required to be able to play properly in 2D.

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                  June 8, 2012 6:10 PM

                  yep, when Nintendo announced this before release it pretty much killed any interest I might've had. It ensured the 3D would never be very important to gameplay beyond a cute effect.

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                    June 8, 2012 6:21 PM

                    It really matters so little to just about every game I've played but I do enjoy the effect in certain ones. In some games, it's annoying as shit though. One thing I do enjoy is the 3D videos I guess. I heard rumors of 3d movies coming to the system in a bigger way, but who knows.

                    And it kinda sucks because the system has many other cool things going for it (I think) that outshine the 3D stuff.

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                      June 8, 2012 6:23 PM

                      Shit and when you combine that with the circle pad pro fiasco.. C'mon now.

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                    June 8, 2012 7:16 PM

                    If you're going by that standard, HD is gimick and a "cute effect". It has ZERO gameplay effect. Is it nice? Sure. Does it hurt the games? No. The 3DS is a good system and the 3D is nice. I could live without it, but I'm glad it's there. If you're skipping out on the 3DS just because there aren't any games that require 3D, you're missing out on some good games.

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                      June 8, 2012 7:29 PM

                      I'm skipping out on it for numerous reasons but 3D has the potential to actually do some unique things compared to just SD->HD. That they weren't willing to commit to such a thing was disappointing. Considering the huge cons it added (battery life, difficulty using it anywhere that's shaky, cost) it would've been a lot more compelling if it was more than just a neat effect.

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        June 8, 2012 6:33 PM

        Agreed. Screw motion controls Tbh

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        June 9, 2012 2:42 AM

        Am I the only one who's going to notice that Super Mario Galaxy came out a year after launch? Zelda was the Wii's showcase game.

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          June 9, 2012 4:49 AM

          Zelda was also a Game Cube title. Pretty much showed that motion didn't bring anything to the table there.

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      June 9, 2012 4:47 AM

      I'll buy a Wii U if, and only if I can get a high quality Square Enix sequel to Super Mario Bros RPG Legend of the Seven Stars. Do this, and we have a deal. Paper Mario is a great spiritual successor, but it's not substitute for me. Heck. I'm still bitter over Brawl.

      My big worry for the Nintendo and the Wii U, is how it will stand up to scrutiny in 2 years when we're looking at the PS4 and the Next Xbox. Do you buy the multiplatform games on the Wii U whose visuals will look a bit dated, or the more performance heavy systems? I think this could put Nintendo back in the "This is my Nintendo system" category.

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        June 11, 2012 2:18 AM

        You MUST be joking about a proper SMRPG sequel led by Square. Nintendo wants people to forget that exists, just like they want everyone outside Japan to forget about Earthbound/Mother.

        If Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario taking over as "the" Mario RPGs hasn't convinced you already, you're hopeless.

        Don't get me wrong, I'm just as pissed as you for SMRPG never getting the sequel it deserved, but Nintendo and Square went through some rough times back then and that was one of the casualties - Nintendo specifically created Paper Mario and the M&L games to replace SMRPG and that was that. We will never see Mallow or Geno again, face it.

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