Wii U Forum

Topic: My hands on with the Wii U experience

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Bankai

1. Posted:

One of the most exciting features of the EB World Expo game recently held in Sydney was the opportunity to go hands on with the Nintendo Wii U.

Most of the launch games were playable at the event, and I got to run through a couple of the games at my time in the booth. To sum up my reaction: the Wii U is a nice console and I have high hopes that the games that will be released on it will justify buying one, but I do think people are going to be very disappointed with its central gimmick, the tablet controller.

That tablet is a nice bit of hardware to be sure. The controller fits comfortably in the hands, and though it’s a fairly heavy device, the weight is distributed expertly. The buttons are soft but responsible, and the control sticks are amongst the nicest I’ve ever played with.

The touch screen itself is noticeably lower in quality than an iPad or other high-end tablets, but it displays colours brightly and, when a game is displayed on both the TV screen and tablet screen simultaneously, it’s nice to see that the Wii U scales the action down perfectly.

And, in some games it is put to good use as a secondary screen. The New Super Mario Bros U touch screen controls allows a less experienced or younger player to join in the excellent multiplayer without feeling intimidated. By placing extra blocks on the playing field for the other four players to use, that person with the touch screen gets to feel like an integral part of the experience (by providing access to out-of-reach areas), without the stress of the often-difficult platforming. Zombie U meanwhile might not do anything new with the touch screen (Dark Souls did the whole ‘inventory management without pausing the game’ just as well), but by moving the inventory to the touch screen it’s possible for the occasional zombie to get the jump on you. It's silly B-grade fun for that.

But here’s the overall reality of the Wii U – it’s impossible to have critical information running on both the touch screen and the TV screen at the same time. In the natural hold position for a controller it’s simply too uncomfortable and downright frustrating to keep looking back and forth to try and track everything going on.

This means that the touch screen is actually only good for a couple of purposes – either streaming the entire game content (so rendering the TV screen pointless), for minigames that are the touch-screen equivalent of waggle (and we've already seen some of those emerge), or for the purposes of displaying secondary information – inventory, menus, maps, keyboards and the like. Given that games have already had inventory, maps, and keyboards built in behind a single in-game button press, streaming it to a games tablet is more gimmicky than innovative.

And, considering the games aren’t visually much more appealing than the existing HD consoles (though Mario in HD is a sight to behold), there’s also not much of an initial “wow” factor when playing this console for the first time, which is somewhat disappointing. The Wii offered the promise of a new way to play. The PS3 and Xbox 360 offered HD visuals for the first time. The Vita brought the PS3 HD experience to a handheld for the first time, and the 3DS offered the excitement of glasses-free 3D.

These all made playing those consoles for the first time something spectacular. The Wii U by contrast feels a bit like a “nice to have” – that wow factor just isn’t there when you realise that you’re playing the same games as before, with a couple of minor functions thrown to the touch screen. Not a single game on display, with the exception of the Nintendo Land minigames (which are also too limited for any long-term appeal) did anything that blew me away by offering a genuinely new experience.

Local multiplayer is this console’s real strength to shine, and Nintendo Land did show this off nicely, but local multiplayer is a dying art and of minimal mass market interest. Of course, it’s the software that counts with console releases, and Nintendo does have a good launch line up. I've got great hopes that the Wii U will answer the critics of the Wii, that it failed to deliver on its promise; the Wii U has already delivered everything it is promising from the outset. And indeed despite coming away underwhelmed (especially compared to the raw excitement I felt after going hands on the 3DS for the first time), I did go and preorder a Wii U after the event. I just worry that anyone going in to the Wii U expecting the same joy and wonder they experienced with the original Wii may just find this console a little lacking in genuine innovation.

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kyuubikid213

2. Posted:

Oh my god, you are still able to pre-order Wii Us?!

I like your Wii U Hands-On Review. It was nice and informative. However, I don't think the "critical information" issue will be a big problem. Many, many people play Mario Kart on the DS or 3DS. I know that the DS's screens are closer together and thus switching your view between the two isn't as much of a stretch as the Wii U will be, but Mario Kart has this "feature" and pulls it off rather well. When you play Mario Kart, you've got the action on the top screen and your map on the bottom. The critical information lies to the side of the touchscreen where you can see the other racer's items. You have to look back and forth between the screens to be able to prepare yourself appropriately for the oncoming hazards from your opponents (blue shells, red shells, etc.) and those from the actual race track. If one can do this, which many can, I think they will be able to cope with what the Wii U has in store. And aside from that, I'm fairly certain the most important of the critical information will remain on the TV (such as ammo in Call of Duty).

Still getting a Wii U day one. I just need to choose my first game.

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Wheels2050

3. Posted:

Nice to hear your opinion, especially as descriptive as it is.

I'm guessing that this is the reaction that most people will have. Barring a developer coming up with an amazing, revolutionary use for the tablet, I imagine that it'll be used for some fun purposes, but ones that could be performed just as well by bringing up an extra menu on the main screen on any other console.

The angle Nintendo really seems to want to push is the 'asymmetric gameplay' one, which is, by definition, completely irrelevant in single player. Now, I don't know how the usage of the Wii U will compare with regards to people playing single player or local multiplayer, but I hazard a guess that the former will get the most use. As a result, the big new feature of Wii U won't even be utilised most of the time.

Having said that, I'm yet to see a Wii U in the flesh, so I may get my hands on one and think it's the best thing since sliced bread. I'm doubtful, though.

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Bankai

4. Posted:

@2 Yeah, the preorders in Australia haven't exactly been going well for Nintendo.

The DS situation is entirely different. It's possible to see both screens almost simultaneously under any circumstances.

If you want to see what the Wii U will be like, grab an iPad and put a TV show on that. Put a TV show on your TV and try and watch both at the same time. It's impossible. The human brain can only really process one important stream of information at a time, so having "action" across two screens with the Wii U will largely be relegated to those times where you're actually pointing the Wii U tablet at the TV... and that's motion control all over again.

And, as I mentioned, if the Wii U's tablet screen really is going to be used solely for maps and inventories by most developers (and that certainly seems to be the case right now), then it's not an innovative experience by any stretch.

Edited on by Bankai

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kyuubikid213

5. Posted:

WhiteKnight wrote:

@2 Yeah, the preorders in Australia haven't exactly been going well for Nintendo.

The DS situation is entirely different. It's possible to see both screens almost simultaneously under any circumstances.

If you want to see what the Wii U will be like, grab an iPad and put a TV show on that. Put a TV show on your TV and try and watch both at the same time. It's impossible. The human brain can only really process one important stream of information at a time, so having "action" across two screens with the Wii U will largely be relegated to those times where you're actually pointing the Wii U tablet at the TV... and that's motion control all over again.

And, as I mentioned, if the Wii U's tablet screen really is going to be used solely for maps and inventories by most developers (and that certainly seems to be the case right now), then it's not an innovative experience by any stretch.

If you would, please explain exactly what kind of game would have action on both screens that requires your undivided attention on both simultaneously. No 3DS/DS game I own has done that except for Phantom Hourglass's Gleeok fight. And even then there was enough delay between the action on top for me to respond on the bottom. It isn't like Nintendo is going to make a Zelda game where you move Link on the TV with the right analog stick and move Zelda out of danger on the touchscreen with the left analog stick. Developers know not to overload gamers with too much information at once; that's what the beta testers are for. If they find an issue with the playability of a game, the devs fix the issue.

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WildMan

6. Posted:

Nice description! Personally, I have never had a hd console, so it will be a new experience for me! :-D

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moomoo

7. Posted:

I liked the read. It's about what I expected: the quality of the system and its controller overall are very nice, while the amount of stuff the WiiU controller can do won't be utilized in most games. Still, I'm really starting to think about getting one, mainly because I live in a household where local multiplayer is highly valued, and the WiiU seems to do a really good job with it.

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Edited on by moomoo

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Bankai

8. Posted:

kyuubikid213 wrote:

WhiteKnight wrote:

@2 Yeah, the preorders in Australia haven't exactly been going well for Nintendo.

The DS situation is entirely different. It's possible to see both screens almost simultaneously under any circumstances.

If you want to see what the Wii U will be like, grab an iPad and put a TV show on that. Put a TV show on your TV and try and watch both at the same time. It's impossible. The human brain can only really process one important stream of information at a time, so having "action" across two screens with the Wii U will largely be relegated to those times where you're actually pointing the Wii U tablet at the TV... and that's motion control all over again.

And, as I mentioned, if the Wii U's tablet screen really is going to be used solely for maps and inventories by most developers (and that certainly seems to be the case right now), then it's not an innovative experience by any stretch.

If you would, please explain exactly what kind of game would have action on both screens that requires your undivided attention on both simultaneously. No 3DS/DS game I own has done that except for Phantom Hourglass's Gleeok fight. And even then there was enough delay between the action on top for me to respond on the bottom. It isn't like Nintendo is going to make a Zelda game where you move Link on the TV with the right analog stick and move Zelda out of danger on the touchscreen with the left analog stick. Developers know not to overload gamers with too much information at once; that's what the beta testers are for. If they find an issue with the playability of a game, the devs fix the issue.

I don't think you quite understand where I'm coming from.

There are a number of people out there looking forward to the "innovations" that having a TV and tablet controller working together will bring to gaming.

In reality there are no innovations to be found on the software side of things with the Wii U. This is a HD console that for the most part has replaced the map/ inventory button with a screen on the controller itself. That's not innovation.

There's some funky local multiplayer stuff happening, but as someone that doesn't really play local multiplayer any more, the lack of actual innovation after cutting through the PR speak is somewhat disappointing.

On the plus side I went from not caring about Zombie U to quite looking forward to it.

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kkslider5552000

9. Posted:

this fits pretty well with my expectations for the console.

I've been thinking recently that we haven't seen as much of some of the more crazy stuff they showed at E3 2011.

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kyuubikid213

10. Posted:

I see what you mean about no innovation. I didn't see it as innovative, I saw it as bringing the 3DS to the Big Screen. That excites me.

It is true that as of now, there is no innovation with the Wii U games. I didn't expect that with the first round of games. If we get to 2015 and there hasn't been an attempt at a new unique way to play, I'll be disappointed, but not surprised.

The Wii U needs the right developers that will take a risk and see exactly what they can get that controller to do. With Nintendo's (hopefully) more open policy for indie developers, we may see that sooner than we imagined.

Just something I would like to point out, even though replacing the map/inventory button with the screen isn't innovative, it is still useful. Imagine the ease of menu scrolling when you can just tap a selection and go. I'm pretty sure that you, an avid iOS gamer, can appreciate that on a home console.

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Knux

11. Posted:

Thanks for the impressions, Waltz. Now I know that I need to wait until I actually see some games that I want for the Wii U before I buy the console itself.

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LolWut

12. Posted:

I appreciate an honest, lengthy review, from just another regular joe (no offense). I am still as excited as ever to get mine on launch day.

Edited on by LolWut

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skywake

13. Posted:

The "it's hard to do it with an iPad" example is pretty weak. The problem with using a tablet (or laptop or phone) while watching the TV is that usually the two aren't related to each other at all and the interactive one is usually more interesting. If you had a sporting event on the TV and the scores/stats on your tablet it's not a problem at all. Infact if you watch sport in a stadium this is exactly what happens.

I don't buy the argument that the Wii U is going to be much more than a large, HD DS in single player games. Multiplayer is where the new stuff will come from.

Edited on by skywake

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Bankai

14. Posted:

skywake wrote:

The "it's hard to do it with an iPad" example is pretty weak. The problem with using an tablet (or laptop or phone) while watching the TV is that usually the two aren't related to each other at all and the interactive one is usually more interesting. If you had a sporting event on the TV and the scores/stats on your tablet it's not a problem at all. Infact if you watch sport in a stadium this is exactly what happens.

Uh yes. This is my point?

The stats in your example are secondary information.

Secondary information is already in most games on other consoles. It's just kept within a menu, which is usually a single button press away. Taking a single button press and putting it somewhere else is exactly what waggle was to the Wii - taking a button and replacing it with a flick of the WiiMote. This is not innovation. This is simply a new form of presentation. Something that's already quite commonplace.

I don't buy the argument that the Wii U is going to be much more than a large, HD DS in single player games. Multiplayer is where the new stuff will come from.

Well thank you for the TL:DR to my own impressions.

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WaveBoy

15. Posted:

For the most part, it definitly seems more gimmicky rather than innovative. This isn't the leap in innovation i was expecting, especially in comparison to how amazing and revolutionary the wii remote was. Game & Wario and Nintendo Land seem like the best games to make use of the screen if anything. NSMBU's 'adding blocks' screen mechanic is rather uncreative....Extremely underwhelming. While pikmin 3 just uses the screen as an in game map...Which i guess is alright, seeing as how the wii remote + nunchuck seems more ideal to use anyways. But still dissapointing nonetheless. I mean seriously, THESE are the exciting innovative concepts that are supposed to shake the industry? :p I'm sure we'll see some fantastic ideas(hell, there already are with multiplayer content and ZombiU), but based on what has been shown it just doesn't seem all that exciting. I guess it's just something you seriously need to go hands on with to realise how great it truly is. anyways, the Wii E3 presentation was absolutely off the charts! But i guess we're at a point now where motion controls and touch screens are taken for granted. Wasn't that way in late 2006! :p

Edited on by WaveBoy

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skywake

16. Posted:

@WhiteKnight Ok then, I misunderstood...... but then what's the problem exactly? Unless you're suggesting that a game like Henry Hatsworth wouldn't work, which I'd also disagree with, I'm not sure where this would ever be a problem.

Oh, and getting rid of a menu and putting it directly on a touch screen is a clear advantage. Compare OoT3D to the original, it's just a better way to do it.

Edited on by skywake

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Hokori

17. Posted:

It may not be as innovative as one would wish, but it's still a treat that I'll savor for many a years

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Bankai

18. Posted:

skywake wrote:

@WhiteKnight Ok then, I misunderstood...... but then what's the problem exactly? Unless you're suggesting that a game like Henry Hatsworth wouldn't work, which I'd also disagree with, I'm not sure where this would ever be a problem.

It's not a problem, I don't think. As long as people realise that it's a gimmick and it doesn't add much to the overall experience. Once again - this is a HD console. That's all it is. Nintendo's trying to position it as something innovative and THAT is a problem, because it's very close to an outright lie.

Oh, and getting rid of a menu and putting it directly on a touch screen is a clear advantage. Compare OoT3D to the original, it's just a better way to do it.

It's a win for convenience, I agree. I just had hoped that the new console generation would kick off with something a little more compelling than "now with a little more convenience" I guess.

I'll restate it though - I preordered my Wii U after playing with the thing this weekend. I like it, but it's nothing more than a PS3 with a slightly different set of games. I really doubt I will bother with any cross platform Wii U titles.

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Bankai

19. Posted:

HarmoKnight wrote:

It may not be as innovative as one would wish, but it's still a treat that I'll savor for many a years

You, especially, are in for a bad time, since the only interesting thing the Wii U does (HD) is apparently something you can't see :P

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MAB

20. Posted:

Currently I have 2 big screen TV's in the lounge room for simultaneous playing of consoles and television programme viewing with a laptop on the arm of a chair and a 3DS on the other arm. Adding yet another screen to the equation sounds like the challenge I have been training for many years to master :P

Thanks for sharing your opinion bloke, cheers ;)

MAB