News Article

Talking Point: Nintendo's GamePad Bet Could Pay Off

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

It's all about Amiibo and Nintendo's unique charm

The Wii U, through its troubles in its first 18 months-or-so, has been the subject of a lot of analysis and opinion around its GamePad controller. Its presence with the system adds to its cost and, as the hardware has struggled to grab the public's attention in the same manner as its predecessor, it's been a justifiable source of debate. Some minimalist use of the controller in major games — particularly in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze — has brought its value into sharp focus.

The issue for the GamePad has not necessarily been that Nintendo hasn't tried to show it off, but more that efforts to do so haven't had anything like the impact that the Wii Remote and Wii Sports did in the early days of Wii. Nintendo Land and titles like Wii Party U show off interesting gameplay with the GamePad, for example, but haven't driven systems off store shelves and into enough living rooms. As an entertainment device it's struggled to act as a useful focal point for Wii U.

Calls for the controller to be dropped from the system haven't been entirely without merit, as at launch it was estimated to add around $80 to the console's cost, and naturally limits how low Nintendo can go with pricing for the Wii U — as one of the Wii's strengths was also its budget price point, it's an inevitable point of contention. Nintendo did drop the system's price last year, of course, and these are happier moments for those of us in the console's corner as it's enjoyed a burst of interest and sales since Mario Kart 8 arrived at the close of May.

With E3 drawing to a close, however, we've had further definitive proof that the GamePad is going nowhere. Good to Satoru Iwata's word to investors in January, the company has made the controller an integral part of its messaging. On the Wii U front Super Smash Bros. has been shown off primarily with the GameCube controllers — with an exception that we'll touch upon below — to promote the Wii U Controller Adapter, but in plenty of other games there's undeniably active use of the controller.

To start with a continuation of control methods we've seen before, titles such as Kirby and the Rainbow Curse make use of the touch screen, while the concept titles from Shigeru Miyamoto — Star Fox, Project Guard and Project Giant Robot — make particular use of motion controls, also utilising the second screen as a window into the game's world as the TV gives a wider perspective. The much hyped Splatoon, meanwhile, includes gyroscope aiming and extensive use of a touch screen map to add extra precision and strategy to an intense shooting experience — we've enjoyed our time with it so far. These are ideas that are fairly familiar, but could no doubt be as enjoyable as previous efforts mentioned above.

In terms of potentially pushing the importance of the GamePad forward, however, it's Amiibo that's the most vital product on show at E3. For one thing, the figures themselves look utterly charming, and in office discussions — ages ranging from 29-35 — we've all admitted that we'll probably spend more money than we initially intended on the collecting the range. From a personal perspective this writer doesn't play Skylanders or Disney Infinity, but this is Nintendo. It's nostalgia talking, and it's that alongside the strength of the brands with younger gamers upon which Nintendo will aim to capitalise.

The GamePad, up to this point, has houseed that NFC (near field communication) chip that has been woefully underutilised, aside from some minor usage in Pokemon Rumble U. This range of figurines could change that not just due to its variety, but in the multi-game approach that Nintendo is taking. With titles as diverse as Super Smash Bros., Mario Party 10, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Yoshi's Woolly World and Mario Kart 8 all to use figurines, Nintendo will be able to promote the multi-use feature and the fact that no portal or "starter pack" is required. That integrated feature that was reportedly announced to the world before the GamePad developers knew about it years ago, which has been considered a throwaway in recent times, is suddenly leaping to the forefront.

There's certainly an argument that Nintendo is merely following the trends of others with this and is perhaps later with it than is ideal, but it's also the case that its offering is unique. It'll be vital that the company persuades retailers to provide plenty of shelf space, naturally, but advertisements showing players enjoying a game, placing the figurine on the GamePad and rapidly transforming the experience will be key. The opening to Nintendo's Digital Event did this briefly, with Satoru Iwata placing a Mario figure and rapidly turning around a tough Smash Bros. battle with Reggie Fils-Aime.

Debates around the GamePad often come down to a sense that, in producing a controller so different to that of its rivals, Nintendo creates a rod for its own back and a pressure to maximise this potential. That's a flipside with Amiibo, too, as there'll be an expectation that any game supporting the figurines does so in a fun, accessible way. There are unresolved questions too, around whether all figurines function in every game. If not, how does Nintendo communicate that clearly and avoid disappointed consumers? We'd suggest that, as a minimum, every figurine should provide a benefit in compatible games, even if Peach doesn't literally appear in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, for example.

With the recent system update also enhancing the GamePad with a quick start mode and a neat notification feature, the controller is finally feeling like a distinctive part of the system's infrastructure. Nintendo appears to be aiming to make it a 'living room tablet', to coin a phrase, that can actively provide updates, play at any time when the TV is busy, and also enhance Nintendo experiences. Making that pitch to consumers is Nintendo's ongoing challenge.

When you combine Amiibo with more interesting games using its motion controls and touch screen, the GamePad has the potential to finally shine on a sustained basis. It's the toy range, ultimately, that can maintain the controller's relevance even in games where standard physical controls are the core focus — if titles like MK8, Smash Bros. and the range shown off at E3 can drive the Wii U to a reasonable userbase, there's obvious potential for the toy platform to expand and be utilised in a number of first-party games. If it succeeds enough then third-party options could follow.

The Wii U has a huge 12 months ahead of it, in which it needs to win over consumers and move towards a userbase that's sufficient to sustain a full generation's lifecycle. Nintendo has demonstrated that it's not stepping back or retreating from the console, with new games revealed and, of course, a hugely ambitious Legend of Zelda title also on the agenda for 2015. Diversity is the key, and even the GamePad's critics will surely concede that the controller is set to contribute greatly to that range of experiences.

The GamePad is staying, and it could yet redeem itself and become an integral part of the living room.

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User Comments (135)



Emblem said:

We will see, personally i hope they keep options open for games. As much as i like the gamepad i love being able to use the Pro controller aswell.



0utburst said:

I've never cared about Disney Infinity or Skylanders. But with amiibo with Nintendo characters that can be utilized in multiple games? It's hard not to take advantage of it. I will surely be buying some if not all depending on the price.



ModestFan93 said:

I'm most excited about Yoshi's Woolly World and Splatoon. I'l need to see more of Kirby and the Rainbow Curse as well as Xenoblade Chronicles X.



PanurgeJr said:

I love the Gamepad, and there's one thing in particular about it that I've never heard anyone talk about--how it fits in the hands. It is comfortable, and when I hold it, my thumbs are vertical, meaning up on the analog sticks is up in my hand. When I hold my Dual shock my thumbs are at an angle, so up on the sticks (which block the buttons in the middle) requires more of a pushing to the side motion. It's just ever so slightly less accurate.



Xenjamin said:

I have come to LOVE my gamepad but for me it also fills the ipad/touchpad function as i dont own one. I also find myself using off-tv for mk8/vc almost more, if not more then on my hdtv because it is just so comfortable. Glad to see that they are keeping it!



electrolite77 said:

And herein lies the confusion. For someone like me who uses Off TV Play the majority of the time, games that don't offer this are pretty much of no interest.

Diversity is good but in reality (and we've seen this over and over) it's software that sells systems not control methods. I believe Nintendo could do just as well from a more traditional system with a brilliant range of software (and an optional Off TV controller (with a better quality screen)) without having to worry about diverting energy and resource into try into justify the Pad.



Winter_Is_Here said:

I created this account just so I could comment on this topic. I'm an avid Nintendo Fan and enjoy a good number of the games I have for the Wii U. I, however, HATE the gamepad outside of games like Nintendo Land. In my opinion, the forced gamepad functionality in games like Raymond Legends ruins those game for me. The gamepad also serves no real purpose for games like Super Mario Bros or Mario Kart 8 (there is no way a user can look at the map on the gamepad while racing on the main screen). While I think the gamepad can be great for some games, the system is limiting itself if it feels like it has to use it. Nintendo really needs to bring back normal controllers as its standard controller. Lastly, and this is a bit more trivial, I don't like how I can't have the main menu displaying on the TV screen without having to navigate with a Wii-mote. This, to me, is another example of Nintendo forcing us to use the gamepad.



nesvc said:

Gimmick. I will use the gamecube controllers on anything possible.



dumedum said:

The GamePad is a fantastic piece of tech that greatly improves many games. Having said that, it's not for everything, and when Nintendo understands that (Donkey Kong, Smash Bros., Mario Kart to a degree), it gets criticized for no good reason.



rjejr said:


That was the sound of my head exploding @ThomasBW84

How can you write all of that - especially about SSB - without mentioning the lack of 2 Gamepads? It's even front and center in the vid - one guy has a Gamepad, he uses an amiibo - the other guy has a Pro, so he does NOT use one. It's obvious you haven't played Skylanders b/c the best thing about it is 2 people sitting next to each other sharing the portal constantly changing characters at any given moment. I can't see that happening with only 1 Gamepad. Somebody was nice enough to tell me you can put characters into the Gamepad pre-game but that sounds like a really poor solution. And how will people play couch multiplayer Splatoon w/ only 1 Gamepad?

I've been waiting 2 days for you to write this piece (I commented on it somewhere to somebody) and you didn't even mention 2 Gamepads. I'm so disappointed.



Yoshis_VGM said:

After owning a Wii U for 18 months, I can say that the GamePad is an awesome controller and I still love it to this day. Sure it hasn't been utilized much yet, but I can see the potential, especially after this E3, where the majority of the games made intuitive use of the GamePad.

I also love some of the GamePad's uses outside of games too. I especially love using it with Amazon Instant Video. I love that it gives me brief bios on the actors and tells me who is on screen at any given time.

Off-TV Play is a real selling point for the GamePad. I've made use of it several times and it allows me to lie in my bed and play games while my siblings watch a DVD on the TV.

On top of all of this, the GamePad is probably one of the most comfortable controllers I've ever held. My thumbs naturally rest on the analog sticks and my fingers naturally rest on the shoulder buttons. The grips on the back fit perfectly in my hands, enhancing the comfortability of the controller.

Overall, I love the GamePad. It's comfortable, intuitive, and full of potential. I can't wait to see how it's utilized in future games and I can't imagine a Wii U without the GamePad.



MetaRyan said:

@Kroisos Yes. I agree 100%. I'm surprised that Sony hasn't even attempted to fix the DualShock's analog stick issue. In fact, I'm surprised that no one has used the Gamepad's/Wii U Pro Controller's stick and button placement until 2012.



cfgk24 said:

@rjejr We love our Gamepads! Splattoon is online multiplayer so each player will have their own Gamepad. Be patient though, I'm sure 2 Gamepad support us on its way. Remember, we haven't had ANY hardware news this E3. So there is still exciting stuff to come!



Hikingguy said:

Nintendo needs to double down on the Gamepad. I use it nearly every day to play games and surf the web, ,on demand videos, extra... It would be nice if they could somehow add even the most basic apps such as Weather, calculator, news... But I see only 2 only real issues, the battery life and range. I have a long cord that I have close to it at all times, but a bigger battery is the only lasting answer. For the range, I don't know how they will fix that one. I don't know where the limitation is. But if Nintendo came out with a range extender I would buy it. Otherwise off tv gaming is great. I will wonder until the end of time why Nintendo did not include 2nd screen in MK8. It is one of the best features on Sonic Racing Transformed!



Hikingguy said:

@audiobrainiac It has the instruction manual for the high capacity battery on sale
Oh Nintendo. They will make it available every where soon enough. Good to know the product at least exists. I will check back, Thanks for the tip though!



Hy8ogen said:

@Mahe Looks at that article, then looks at PS4 Japan sales. Laughs. Not to mention that figure does not specify that those people only bought the PS4. It could also be Wii U/Xbone owners buying the PS4 because of the hype or they are just rich enough to own multiple consoles? Doesn't prove anything, let alone claiming people are migrating over LOL



ZenTurtle said:

Amiibo is a gimmick. An expensive gimmick, like most DLC. And it will sell. And Nintendo will laugh at me.



Mahe said:

@Hy8ogen Japan just had the mega-game Mario Kart 8, and Wii U only did a couple of thousand more than PS4 in Japan this week. Your point?

Likewise, while the article doesn't give out details on next-gen ownership, even in your own scenario Wii U owners are getting swept by the PS4 "hype". It wasn't like that in the Wii days:



unrandomsam said:

@Hy8ogen Yeah but Japan has always acted sensibly. i.e get it when there are some games you want on it (Or one you really want). When it starts getting most of the JRPG's they want it will sell better than the Wii U it is a given.



Anguspuss said:

what ever the argument of game pad/ Just look at the range of options you have. Especially with mario kart. use the gamepad or chose the controller of a wii remote and wheel.

Now for SMB you can use a GC controller as well.



Mahe said:

@Anguspuss Mario Kart 8 is good with controller options, but many Wii U games and apps don't have those options. That means there's no option to buy or use Wii U completely without the Gamepad.

And as such, many people will just not buy the Gamepad console or its games.



RobbySuave said:

@MetaRyan No one used that stick and button placement before because it's not comfortable. Sure, it looks ergonomic and symmetrical and you'd think that would be good, but it's just not comfortable. For games that utilize the 2 analog sticks (which means a lot of games), the Xbox 360 and Xbox One controllers are the best.

I've played video games since forever on all platforms. I can appreciate each type of controller for different reasons, but definitely for first person games when you're using the 2 analog sticks simultaneously, the PlayStation and Wii U button layouts just aren't comfortable. I realize I'm saying this very matter-of-factly instead of an opinion, but I really don't think anyone could argue it.



Anguspuss said:

Mahe said:
@Anguspuss Mario Kart 8 is good with controller options, but many Wii U games and apps don't have those options. That means there's no option to buy or use Wii U completely without the Gamepad.

I agree totally & I love the game pad. Instead of trying get rid of it which is never going to happen. They should have more packs like the zombie u one with the pro controller. The biggest thing I think N could do is either release official external hdd with a bundle of games per installed (or download code) & a mk2 console with a hdd. All the complaints about game pad aside for retro gaming it is the dogs bollocks. Just love playing snes/gba games on it. Why no neo geo/sega turbo graphix games



AusfahrtXD said:

When I first read "as we reach the end of e3 we have had more definitive proof the ganepad is going nowhere" I though you were immediately contradicting the point of the article....maybe it's just me but took me a while to realize it's going nowhere as in not leaving.



Will-75 said:

@Mahe I find it hard to believe everyone is dropping Wii U for a PS4 , I own both and I would honestly pick the Wii U over the way over HYPED PS4 any day the gamepad is awesome in so many ways the video chat is great you can't do that with the ps4 controller as well the browser on Wii U is way better than on ps4 which you can check online as your playing you can't do that on ps4s controller I could go on and on bottom line the gamepad is Awesome it's just a shame most people ride a hype train .



AusfahrtXD said:

I never saw them dropping the Wii u early or much less the gamepad like a lot of people are saying when things look grim. Its not like Nintendo to bail like that. I see the viewpoint on it, but they wouldn't have made it if they didn't have plans on using it. It's been a slow two years but it's pretty early considering how much bigger development teams/lengths get every gen. People say last gen was long. I could easily see this one being at least as long all things considered.



rjejr said:

Okay, sorry for the outburst earlier, but using SSB to promote the Gamepad set me off in part b/c its the one reason I can think of to actually sell Wii U w/o the Gamepad. When that Gamecube adapter was announced I envisioned a SSB Tournament bundle of Wii U, SSB, adapter and 4 of the new GC controllers for $399. I thought it would go over well for frat houses, basements, dorm rooms and wherever else people might want a SSB machine more than a Wii U. Unfortunately it fell apart when I realized you would need a pro to turn it on or off bringing the price back up. But if they did have a GC controler do that its a real nice collectors set w/o the teen boys worrying about a Gamepad or amiibo in their game. I just dont see a lot of SSB players wanting amiibo.



Mahe said:

@Will-75 Obviously not everyone, but just as obviously, the PS4 is draining old Wii players and even Wii U owners away.

Sad to say, that's soon going to be the reality for me too. I simply don't want to play on the Gamepad despite Nintendo's insistence, and their E3 conference was a huge disappointment for me. On the Wii U, I always use other controllers when possible (Wiimote, Classic Controller, Pro), and on the PS4, I won't have to worry about the hassle of Gamepad. If Nintendo stubbornly wastes their resources on the Gamepad, there's simply no point to playing on the Wii U anymore.



flarocque said:


I power on my WiiU with the Pro Controller, once the menus is displayed press either X or Y, doing so allows you to navigate without the Gamepad or a Wii controller.

Have fun!



TruenoGT said:

Nintendo's biggest problem is that many people just dislike change. No one is going to argue with a faster CPU, but change the way something plays and some people just freak out. I'm sure if the NES came with the Gamepad and every console had something similar for the next 30 years, and then Nintendo switched to something like the 360 pad, people would complain about it being too small, no screen, wrong layout, etc.

I'm glad Nintendo rocks the boat and think the Gamepad is pretty darn great, but after this and Wii Remote, they gotta know some people are going to push back hard. Perhaps they just need to be more gradual with changes in the future so people can warm up to a concept slowly. Even then, many people will always want the same stuff in a prettier bag, hence the success of PS4 and Kinect-less XB1.



Mahe said:

@TruenoGT Yeah, those 100 million Wii owners really disliked change. Oh wait...

If the NES had come with anything as atrocious as the Gamepad, it would probably have failed to restart the game industry and wouldn't have had the cultural legacy it now has.



Action51 said:

The WIi U and the gamepad is a very forward thinking console and controller, despite the general lack of overall horsepower contained within the hardware's main CPU and GPU.

Nintendo has always been about interesting peripherals and controllers and I'm glad that trend continues boldly forward.



umegames said:

@BenjaminAran same here. i browse the internet everyday, even though i have a pretty fast PC, being able quickly surf on wii-u's very fast browser, and then jump right into games is all kinds of awesome.



Rosstifer_Z said:

@truenoGT Completely agree.

The thing that bothers me about PS4 and XBONE is that nothing is new. What do they offer that the PS3/360 can't do? I'm not talking about things like twitch streaming and various other things... I'm talking gameplay experiences. They feel like updated models of last gen (graphics and whatnot) . Nintendo, while some people say they're failing, are trying to give you a new way to play and that's awesome.



Action51 said:

@Mahe - If the NES had come with anything as atrocious as the Gamepad:



Certainly Nintendo hasn't released weird ways to control games before...

Oh well...



Action51 said:

@Mahe - Unusual input is new to Nintendo, so I can see why you hate the gamepad, so unlike Nintendo...



Nintendo and 2nd screen option has been such a failure in the past...



Mahe said:

@Action51 The R.O.B. was an optional accessory that was quickly dropped. And you liken it to the Gamepad? Hmm... And are you calling the Zapper atrocious? Seriously?

The thing about Game & Watch and Wiimote is that they're GOOD innovations. Not all change is good, but not all change is bad, either. That's the point.
Wiimote = NES Controller. Gamepad = R.O.B.

Likewise with the Power Pad, Balance Board and DS. You're grasping at straws to defend the failed Gamepad, Nintendo's biggest blunder since the Virtual Boy. Funny you didn't list that...



Action51 said:

@Mahe said:

"If the NES had come with anything as atrocious as the Gamepad, it would probably have failed to restart the game industry and wouldn't have had the cultural legacy it now has."



I think that about wraps things up were saying?



Rosstifer_Z said:

@Mahe The Gamepad to me is awesome. I literally don't want to game without it now. it's a necessity to the Wii U and what makes it different to PS/Xbox.

If you don't like it from actually playing with it i understand. Each to their own, Mahe but i personally love it.



Action51 said:

@Mahe - The delusion that I like the gamepad?

Ok! ...Already been doing that since I bought my Wii U a year ago and I only like the gamepad more now.

Thanks for giving me permission to continue to like it.



D2Dahaka said:

I think the. Gamepad is what makes the WiiU the Wii U. As I have said before I hope they find more innovative and fun ways to use it and less gimicky tiresome ways of forcing it into games. As long as they use it where it makes sense and offer alternative controls where it makes sense it cam be a really cool thing. I'm just glad the Wii days of waggle to jump etc are behind us.



Heiki said:

I love my Wii U but have mixed feelings about the GamePad. It's nice, but it's just there. I'd rather use the Pro Controller where I can. I think the way we play games with a normal controller is just fine. There's no need to change that with gimmicks like motion control and touch screen input.

What sets Nintendo apart from others are games. And for that I'm really glad I own a Wii U.



Mahe said:

@Action51 Yeah, you can continue liking it. But imagine your own R.O.B. = Gamepad allegory here. What if Nintendo had stubbornly kept the R.O.B. in every NES console set despite the increased cost and its limited use, shoehorned R.O.B. functionality in their NES releases aside from the few games made for it, and what if they had insisted that they need to "focus on innovating" with the R.O.B. to show consumers "the value of the R.O.B."?

That's what's going on with Wii U and the Gamepad.



D2Dahaka said:

@Heiki That's 100% the key. So long as the Gamepad's use is not forced and Gimmicky it can be a great thing. When it's forced and more cumbersome than fun to use, nobody wins.



unrandomsam said:

The best feature of the Gamepad is off tv play. If you use it for any other gimmicky use then that stops being able to be used.

Stuff like the new Star Fox totally built around it might be different but there isn't any stuff like that I have yet used the Gamepad for.

I am totally not a fan of asymmetric multiplayer either.



Tritonus said:

Off-tv play is so underrated!

Lately I've been playing more on the gamepad than on the tv, it's so freaking great. My family can watch tv, and I can even bring the wii u to places where the tv isn't needed... Currently my Wii u is borderline portable, as I have it in my backpack when I go from my apartment to my parents' place.



Action51 said:

@kyuubikid213 - It's so funny, he's grasping at some weird alternate reality where I compared the gamepad to R.O.B. the robot or that I care to debate his weird metaphor pretzels instead of acknowledge that I utterly proved his argument about the NES to be demonstrably and factually wrong.

I don't even know what kind of bass-akwards hypothetical situation he's on about now...something about forcing people to buy R.O.B the robot in 2014?



rjejr said:

@flarocque - If you've been using the Pro to turn on exclusively I would like to recommend the Gamepad since the new quick start menu is really nice. My game - not the menu, the game - is up and running just about the same time my tv is on. And the Home button is much easier to press than the Power button. It was a worthwhile update for a change.



Hotfusion said:

You said software sells systems not control methods.

And this is everyone thinking that by adding a Wii remote to the GameCube and calling it a Wii, Nintendo sold over 100m consoles.

It's weird that much of the same software only sold 22m gamecubes and 6m Wii U.



Action51 said:

@unrandomsam - Whatever he/she is, doesn't matter.

The fact is I pointed out that the NES shipped with a peripheral that everyone can agree is far less practical then the Wii U gamepad, and still managed to be one of the best selling gaming consoles of all time.

  • If there is any comparison to be made, it's the Wiimote and gamepad.

Why? Because R.O.B. was used for exactly 2 games in the massive NES library. The Wii Mote and Gamepad are used in all BUT maybe 2 games in their respective libraries...even then I think you CAN use the Wii Mote and Gamepad in Wii Fit and Wii Fit U...right?

So to add insult to his/her's immediately and easily provable that the NES shipped with a far worse controller and still managed to sell like gangbusters.

What does this prove:

  • absolutely nothing

My point was never to compare the gamepad and R.O.B. like Mahe tried to insinuate and dishonestly divert the focus towards...I just wanted to prove that his/her statements were factually wrong, and I did.

In reality, you can't very well compare a console released in 1985 in the aftermath of Atari's collapse to a console released in 2012 competing with aggressive multinational giants like Sony and Microsoft.

So yeah...that's pretty much how it goes.



Dreamz said:

I don't ever use the Off-TV functionality myself, but I still really like the gamepad. All else aside, it's a really comfortable controller, which is quite an accomplishment since I find most large controllers to be a bit much for people like myself with small to medium sized hands.

The vast majority of the time I use the gamepad, even though I have a pro controller - the pro controller really only gets used when I have other people with me playing local multiplayer.



MoonKnight7 said:

"...the PS4 is draining old Wii players and even Wii U owners away. Sad to say, that's soon going to be the reality for me too."

Please don't tease us like that unless it's actually true. Then you can finally stop with the mindless gamepad rabbling. Also, I'm really not sure I understand why you were so disappointed with Nintendo's E3, as Iwata said in the investors briefing that they were really going to push gamepad functionality. Nintendolife even said it multiple times. Your disappointment shouldn't have been so suddenly unexpected.



unrandomsam said:

@Action51 There is no reason to not allow turning it off properly. (So the TV goes back to the input lag it has without it enabled.)

Donkey Kong does it for a reason. (And it is not that they don't care about gimmicks judging by the Wii version).

Instead of stupid stuff like that quickstart that saves a whole 20 seconds. They could allow operation just on the TV. (Without the Gamepad input lag). Full range RGB. Plenty of things that are standard from the competition. (And were even for the 360/PS3.)

It is all well and good gamepad stuff when it is the main feature of the game but it should be able to be turned off. Using the TV in the same way off TV play works.

I don't want another TV. There are no Plasma's under 16ms at all.



PlywoodStick said:

@Mahe "The R.O.B. was an optional accessory that was quickly dropped. "

Have you read Game Over by David Sheff? Or any other literature about gaming history?

If you have, you would know that when Nintendo first expanded to America, (austere stock house work moving Donkey Kong arcade cabinets and all), the market was still VERY bitter about Atari and the 1983 crash. No one would stock a new console, such as the NES. Customers were leery of anything related to video games. Retailers refused to work with Nintendo as a games company, and some even derided the American workers for "working with the Japs", hoping they would fail.

So... what was the back door for Nintendo into the hearts and minds of prospective customers? ...That's right... the toy industry. The NES was marketed as a toy, not a gaming console. And what was their accompaniment to the console, to distinctly mark it as a toy? ...That's right. The toy robot, ROB.

He was an "optional accessory", more or less, but without something to market the NES as something other than a mere games console, Nintendo would have never gotten it's foot in tne American market's door. They needed something different to show off. Accessories were that avenue.

Nintendo exists as it does today BECAUSE of all these weird, quirky designs and control methods, not in spite of them. Some things hit, others miss. What always sticks, however, is that seemingly unnecessary objects can have a surprisingly crucial impact and lesson when least expected, even if their life span is brief.



Action51 said:

@unrandomsam - I dunno man, your reasoning is kinda obscure...

Maybe they'll address this issue in future operating system updates, but what you're going off about seems pretty narrow and it's stuff I don't think even occurs to people and certainly doesn't bother them.

As far as the gamepad going off, it may not be the most "green" feature, but it was recently revealed that the Wii U is a real power saver operating at a fraction of the wattage other modern consoles operate that your big issue?

I'll take a tiny bit of energy being wasted on a really efficient console over a power hog as far as feeling guilt over energy consumption...which is what I assume your issue is?



PlywoodStick said:

As for the 8th gen of consoles... I think that barring Nintendo's efforts, this will be the last or second to last console generation, as we know it.

This is the first gen where the PC platform, in every way, shape, and form, is as accessible AND powerful as any home console, for a comparable price. ($500 goes a much longer way towards building a respectably powered PC than even just 8 years ago.) Any control scheme you can imagine can work on PC.

For handhelds, the mobile platform is roundly defeating venerable players such as Sony, and is giving the mighty Nintendo portable console line a run for their money. Again, at comparable cost and accessibility.

In every way, there is no reason whatsoever for most people to go for XB1 or PS4 over PC. There is nothing they can offer a PC cannot, in stark contrast to previous gens- especially during gaming's golden age: the 4th, 5th, and 6th genenerations of consoles. Even the lauded price point difference has been utterly shattered.

The Wii U is among the Last of the console Mohicans, so to speak. No one else is offering anything different, that could not easily be ported to and supplanted by PC, including the price point issue.

This really has been the worst console gen in recent memory, for many reasons. (Except for 3DS.) Without Nintendo, I would have defected to PC only long ago.



NintyMan said:

I greatly enjoy the GamePad and have wanted Nintendo to take advantage of it and NFC for a long time, so I'm obviously pleased that Nintendo's listening. I think the controller is very comfortable and nifty to navigate with games and apps like the internet browser. The only controller I will use for Wii U otherwise is the GCN controller for Smash Bros. Wii U, but with everything else, my first choice is always the GamePad.

As far as amiibo, right now the concept still seems pretty complicated and there are still some questions that need to be answered such as what figurines will be usable for which games. Unfortunately, I don't expect to be able to use the Pit figure in Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker or the Donkey Kong one in Yoshi's Woolly World, but I want Nintendo to explain things like this more, and they will as time passes leading up to the Christmas shopping season.



Ichiban said:

That pic of Miyamoto playing Starfox......I do not want to be playing a Starfox game like that. It looks like he is playing with Panoramic viewer (They seem perfect for a Wii U Pilotwings game though). i just want to grip the controller tight and engage in some classic Starfox action!If I'm forced to play the latest home console Starfox game in forever by looking at the gamepad half the time and not the glorious HD graphics on the TV......I'm going to go bananas!!!
Excuse the rant, I'm just a tad concerned!



unrandomsam said:

@Action51 I am not bothered about being green.

I am bothered about not having to buy a new TV. (Last one was specifically chosen to have less than 2 frames of input lag over HDMI). Gamepad adds another one when it is on.

I can tell the difference between a 60fps PC game on the same TV and a Wii U game as it is now.



PlywoodStick said:

@unrandomsam The engineers at Nintendo probably weren't counting on people as tech-oriented as you to speak up about such as thing. Definitely something that makes a difference for fighting games.



Action51 said:

@unrandomsam - What are you talking about?

You need a TV even more for a PS4 or XBOXone, why can't you use your TV with Wii U?

The Wii U is the only console that allows you to play without a TV at all in a lot of games, so you aren't making any sense.



JaxonH said:


It's the extended Gamepad Battery. I bought TWO of them (one for use now, one for backup years down the line when it's lost half its charge). Sells for about 30 bucks, and it's worth every red cent imo. I keep my brightness up all the way on 5- I hate sacrificing screen brightness for play time (though I do keep power saving feature turned on). I used to get about 3.5 hours on full brightness. Now I get roughly 6.5 hours, maybe even a little more. It can go a full 8 hours on lower brightness settings.

That's DOUBLE what I was getting before. But let's be honest here, as long as the controller can hit that 5-6 hour mark, you're probably good. The original battery couldn't do that, and I remember having to plug it in during play sessions almost EVERY TIME. Now, I never have to plug it in while I play. In fact, I can't even remember the last time I saw the orange light come on for a low battery.

I also bought the Wiimote Rapid Charging Base and Battery Pack off the Nintendo online store. It sells for about 40 bucks, and comes with a battery for your Wiimote and a rapid charge cradle to charge it in. It charges up one hour of play time for every NINE MINUTES on the charge base. Hits a full charge in about an hour and a half, a full charge of around 11 hours. That's longer than the PS4 Dualshock 4, and again worth every red cent imo. You can also buy additional battery packs for 25 bucks for your other Wiimotes, and just charge them all from the one cradle base if you wanted...



bistricky said:

Excellent article. Really found it informative. The more I read about Amiibo, the more I think it will be hugely successful for Nintendo and greatly increase sales for the Wii U and likely the 3DS.



PlywoodStick said:

@Action51 Speaking of "green", I now use just the gamepad, TV off, instead of PC as my main web browser to save energy. (Except Flash, needs a PC to run well...)



Action51 said:

@PlywoodStick - Very cool! I have converted to rechargeable batteries (to cut down on hazardous waste) and try to buy food with less packaging at the store...but I still need to run my big multimedia/gaming PC because I can't ween myself away from it lol.



Capt_N said:

@Mahe: It's totally understandable your opinion is the GP is a "ridiculous touchscreen" as you call it. It is bulky-feeling in a way to me, when I try the (horrendously) limited demos in GameStop(Seriously Nintendo, why do I want to watch videos of games, rather than actually play them?!). I can imagine,, rather it's completely normal to consider not every game works best w/ it. Common Sense.

@Everyone: I think the problem is as others above me have said, the GP simply needs to be used only in scenarios where the GP tech is appropriate/applicable, & where it is not, use other controller methods if possible.

It's great that Nintendo isn't forcing GP use into everything just b/c the GP is there, but the controller is still there. For it to go unused in certain games is fine, if appropriate, but that un-use just adds to the GP being labeled a mostly unnecessary controller that, b/c of it's un-use, really mostly just adds cost to the WU.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love a lot of Nintendo's stuff(ips, hardware, etc.). I really want a WU, but can't afford one currently. All I'm saying is, what I wrote above are really the only things I could say bad about the GP.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, & like most anything in life, the GP has both pros, & cons. That said, I'm pretty sure all us NLife members can discuss civilized. & that (previous sentence) being said, I'm also not trying to play NLife mod here. I'm just commenting.

Also, I do like what the GP can(NFC for example), & currently does(Off-TV for example) bring to the table.



DaemonSword said:

I love the gamepad, as it's what sets itself apart from MicroSony, offers a new way of gaming (which in Nintendo's signature in gaming as a whole), and it makes life that much harder for pirates/emulators who just want to steal from the game makers (trying to hack roms that need another external viewing device to play). Nothing is finer than being able to play games from the gamepad laying on a couch or bed, while something else is playing on the TV, or playing 2 player games without a split screen, or being able to videochat with it. NiN's problem was not advertising the gamepad lifestyle properly to the high heavens, like it did with the original Wiimotes. If anything, they really need to make more apps for it, like a digital music player, calendar, email apps, etc. Plus I still want to see a Star War Millenium Falcon game, with the gamepad aiming the turrets, while someone else on a pro controller pilots the ship (like in Episode 4).



DaemonSword said:

@Mahe good for them, like a 1/3 of Atari 2600 fans went to Commodore 64. And the Vita still sucks and has no games. Who cares?



Sceptic said:

The gamepad is what it is. If they drop if, the WiiU has nothing at all to grab people's attention. It's pretty obvious by now though that it's also not that stroke of genius that Nintendo though it would be.

I feel Nintendo needs to hire an outside consultant for the gamepad. Their own ideas seem to center around using it as a second viewport or similar 'extend in front of you during play'-uses and it's simply too heavy to use that way. The WiiU is not powerful enough to handle two gamepads at once so that kills another attractive option (and with it most non-asymmentric local multiplayer game play ideas because one).

IMHO the argument for the gamepad is asymmetrical local multiplayer. For everything else, it just seems gimmicky.



xevious said:

I This is the only thing Mahe ever talks about. EVER. I wonder if this rant is going to continue through the rest of the expected 5-6 year lifespan of the Wii U. Seriously, I would suggest therapy of some sort to get over it.

In the simplistic world of Mahe, all of Wii U's problems come from the Gamepad. If Nintendo would done the same trick with it's console, as it did with the wiimotes in 2006, it would have instantly become the same kind of success, the original Wii was. If Nintendo was to drop the Gamepad and focus on wiimote waggle control, would the Wii U instantly rise back to Wii-level sales. It doesn't matter that there's absolutely nothing to back this claim up and that pretty much no-one agrees with him; he doesn't like the Gamepad, so that's how it is. It doesn't matter, that pretty much all of us bought the original Wii and not that many of us were satisfied with the Wiimote motion controls and not that many of us would buy a new console with the same trick as the selling point. It's the 100 million Wii owners behind Mahe's back to prove his point. It doesn't matter, that it's a completely different world now, than it was back in 2006. According to Mahe Nintendo reached a perfect design philosophy with the Wii; the golden ratio of console design. The only thing that can ever be improved is better graphics and it will keep on selling like the original Wii did until the end of time.



electrolite77 said:


Wii Sports sold the Wii. Without that it'd have been another Kinect or Move. The Wii U doesn't have great software that singularly makes use of the Gamepad so the 'potential' doesn't sell.



andreoni79 said:

I just think the gamepad is a controller with a touch screen in the middle.
DCK does not use it and I love the game.
Zombi U uses it for maps and inventory and I love the game.
Wonderful 101 uses it in a weirdly Platinum style and I love the game.
Pikmin 3 uses it for extra stuff and I love the game.
It seems all depends on developers, not on the controller.



Haywired said:

"It's software that sells systems not control methods". Exactly. Nintendo used to understand that the controller was merely the conduit to play the game. The NES and SNES were never sold on the back of the controller. The controller was barely ever mentioned. Nowadays they're trying to make the controller the main-event itself. Mario Kart 8 has just had a very successful launch and will probably end up as the biggest-selling Wii U game and yet it makes no meaningful use of the Gamepad. No one is buying Mario Kart because of the Gamepad. They're buying it because... it's Mario Kart! It should tell Nintendo everything they need to know (ie. that people love Nintendo's software, they don't really care about the hardware).

“The hardware is just a box you buy only because you want to play Mario games.” Hiroshi Yamauchi

As for the article in general, I'm not so confident there was anything in terms of usage of the Gamepad at E3 that's suddenly going to make the general public interested in it. There have already been plenty of Wii U Gamepad showcases in Nintendo Land, Game & Wario, Wii Party U, etc. and they haven't worked.

Also, @Mahe I understood your original NES point even if others took it far too seriously/deliberately misunderstood/twisted it and then declared themselves the winner of the argument...



Flashman said:

I hate the gamepad and never use it. Nintendo should have made it optional and dropped the price of the console. Utterly pointless gimmick.



DarkCoolEdge said:

For me it already has paid off. Just the off-tv alone makes it worthy. If you add the use it gets on Zombi U, Splinter Cell, Wind Waker... it only gets better.

The only two problems with it are its battery life and the toll it takes on the system resources. Imagine what they could be achieving if the console had more ram available.



Mahe said:

@Haywired Good points, especially about Mario Kart 8.

@xevious Thanks for the recap! Obviously, not all of Wii U's problems stem from the Gamepad, but it is a big part of them, either "Direct"-ly or peripherally.



matirishhh said:

I loved the gamepad from the very start, it was the key factor after purchasing the console in my case. I very frequesntly use off tv game play.



Marshi said:

Im not going to defend the gamepad against the usual crowd of haters on here (you know who you are),you have your opinion and its one shared by more than a few people. I will say however that I dont think these people will EVER be pleased with anything nintendo do. Seriously when the next gen comes around and you have xbox,just a super powered pc with enhanced social features over xbox one. Playstation,just a super powered pc with enhanced social features over ps4. And nintendos next system with-yes you guessed it-just a super powered pc with enhanced social features over the wii u. Then im sure all the haters will be up in arms that the new gen offers no inovation or diferences and tha. Gaming has "died". You'd probably be right but guess what? IT WOULD BE YOUR FAULT.



Mario-Man-Child said:

The gamepad has grown on me a little bit. I find it not that comfortable and I don't use it at all unless I'm forced which annoys me.

It's the Wiiu difference. If Nintendo just released the Wiiu back 18 months ago without the pad the console would have looked like a last gen console, "which wouldn't have bothered me".

The gamepad is there to dress up the Wiiu. I find it a waste of time but for people who like off screen play I suppose it's alright.

It's certainly not the gameplay revolution that Nintendo originally tried to sell it as.



Marshi said:

@Blue-Thunder no my way of looking at things is to always try new things, something some people are never willing to do,because they ARE never happy



MrGawain said:

Although I believe the Gamepad has spurred Nintendo designers to be more creative, I think the real reason Nintendo has had such a positive reaction at E3 is that both Microsoft and Sony have been hit by 1st and 3rd party delays, relying on remakes of last generation games (Nintendo tends remake games 10+ years old), and the fact they have gone to the well once too often with COD clones, Asscreed clones, and repetitive sports and car re-skin games. Sony had one game in LBP3 and MS had one game in Project Spark in their conferences that are different. Asides from graphics, we are yet to see any new innovation from these companies.

Nintendo has so much variety, not in just what is coming at the end of the year and 2015, but all the pre-existing titles, including at least 10-15 unique gold star games that are unlike anything you see on other systems.

Although I think it's unlikely the Wii U will leafrog the PS4 in sales, I do think that quite a few Next gen console owners will invest in a Wii U to make up for the things those systems are lacking.



Mario-Man-Child said:

I just feel you are categorizing people.

I have tried the gamepad since I own a Wiiu but I don't like it. I'm not a hater it's just my opinion.



zool said:

Nintendo gave us the gamepad and Nintendo Land to show us and more importantly third party developers, what it could do.

The rush to buy a Wii u a launch did not happen; poor launch titles and misleading advertising about what the gamepad could do was to blame. Third party developers did not take up the challenge to develop games that make the most of the gamepad. But worst still they did not release games for the Wii u. Ok Nintendo tried and with this one, got it wrong.

I have a feeling that Nintendo are reworking some of the 'to be released' games to make more use of the gamepad and this is where things could start to look a bit gimmicky. In other words will the use of the gamepad add something to the game? Will Starfox for example be a much better game because of the second screen, my guess is it won't.



Gerbwmu said:

@Mahe - you should sell it right away. I think it is obvious that you don't like the Wii U so why not take the opportunity to sell it for $200 while you can and pick up some games for another console of choice.



GraveLordXD said:

Personally I love the game pad mostly for off screen play but seriously Nintendo should have sold it as an accessory and sold the Wii u with the pro controller at a lower price
We still don't have one game that even uses the game pad correctly and you would have thought that MK8 would make good use of it but nope we have a silly horn what a joke. If Nintendo was serious about the gamepad they should have built the console around that idea which they clearly didn't for example MK8 should be 5 player local co-op with no split screen



Gerbwmu said:

Controllers are a personal preference. I hate Sony controllers and not because they are uncomfortable but because my brain can't process the shape markers for the buttons instead of letters. The original XBox controller didn't fit well in my hand. Unlike most people, I loved the N64 controller. I also really enjoy the gamepad as a controller. it works well for me. Pro is a decent controller but I only use it when my son wants to play 2 player games with me because he loves the gamepad too. If you don't like it that is fine too. There are other options both from Nintendo and with outside companies. To mark anything as a failure at this point is console is selling real well at the moment. We had 260 million home consoles sell last generation......might be lucky to get to 130 million this time around.



polarbear said:

Love the gamepad BUT it would be nice having the ability to turn off the display when playing games that just mirrors what is on the TV. To save battery.



timtimdaunholy said:

ammibo in smash didn't seem that cool but its nintendo they'll figure out a way to use it well in games. also i have so many nintendo toy and figures that ill probably get them regardless



Gabjazz said:

@Emblem I love the gamepad ! It's awesome I prefer to play with it more of my time but I also barely use the pro controller.



theBluntKnight said:

in a way I feel bad for the people who dislike the gamepad because Nintendo is making a concerted effort to utilise the gamepad more and more in it's games which will make it harder to get by using just the pro controller.

However I like the gamepad, I find it comfortable and I couldn't imagine playing my wiiU with any other controller. Off screen play is a really nifty feature that I find myself using more and more. And I agree the gamepad is something that prevents the wiiU just being a PC in nintendo packaging (I'm aware that power pc architecture isn't used in PCs as such but in the early 2000s apple used them in their imacs which are PC-like).

I'm sure that if Nintendo wanted to play it safe they could have focussed on processing power and used a pro controller instead of the gamepad. However I don't think that would have been to the wiiU's advantage. Sure blockbusters like MK8 and smash bros wouldn't have been adversely affected but with controllers that offer nothing new there would be fewer avenues for game makers to innovate. I would just like to point out that with just about every console generation Nintendo has introduced something new to their controllers. With the NES it was the start and select buttons that enabled people to pause their game from the control pad rather than having the pause button on the console itself like Sega did with the master system. The SNES gave the world shoulder buttons and the N64 introduced the analogue stick and rumble feedback. The gamecube is the odd one out as had a unique button layout but that was more of a refinement and of course the wii popularised motion controls. So to me the game pad is just the latest trend in Nintendo's drive to offer something new in their controllers.



Sean_Aaron said:

The Gamepad doesn't need to be the primary control interface in every game thanks to the backwards-compatibility with Wii, but making it optional would split the userbase and that would be perilous. Xbox One is going to see limited use of Kinect as a direct result of this decision and there's no way Nintendo would accept that every Wii U owner might not be able to play all the games on the system or buy Amiibo figures.

I have to think there are very few people who don't appreciate the convenience of off-TV access for making an eShop purchase or picking up a quick game. Just this morning I was able to do a quick weigh-in with Wii Fit U using the Gamepad alone - I like not having to turn on my TV and hi-fi for something quick like that.



Action51 said:

@Blue-Thunder - looking for a fight I

Seriously, your original post about the gamepad seems a little negative, but reason to comment on that, it's your opinion.


There's a difference between that, and the people who constantly dump absurd amounts of negativity on everything Nintendo ever does, or make ridiculous assertions and insult people who dare to question their incredible constant negativity.



Action51 said:

@Haywired - The arguments being used to attack the Wii U using the original NES as an example were so laughably absurd and historically incorrect that they needed to be addressed.

No one is saying Mahe isn't allowed to hate the gamepad for his own personal reasons, but the reasoning he provided in order to push his opinion were factually and demonstrably wrong.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if you want to push that opinion and put down others who disagree, then you are not entitled to your own facts. Facts are objective.



Marshi said:

@Blue-Thunder Damn meant to reply to you earlier and forgot. Sorry! Anyway I was going to say no offence taken at all mate. And if you dont like the gamepad? Totally fine! My problem is with people constantly hating on it. I mean if I disliked something enough to want to voice my opinion on a website I would get rid of it and buy something else! Saying "im not a fan of the gamepad" is fine,thats your opinion mate I respect that. But some people will plague this website with nintendo doom mongering,usually using the gamepad as some kind of proof that nintendo have insulted their mother and crapped in their toilet without flushing. It just gets tiresome



Hotfusion said:

No, the motion control system along with Wii Sports sold the Wii.

Wii Sports played on a normal controller won't have sold a damn thing.

The motion controls and ANY software that incorporated it would have sold the Wii.

The motion controller was unique and that's what sold the Wii, thinking anything else is delusional.



rjejr said:

@gatorboi352 - "Misleading, much?"

As soon as I saw your name in my mailbox I knew there was going to be something interesting to read. They really should change that. Or start selling Gamepads.



QuickSilver88 said:

I get so tired of people who don't like gamepad saying its a gimick. I am in the camp that loves offTV play, but I also like gamepad for eShop navigation, MiiVrse posting and drawing, watching Vids and browsing. As others have commented I find it very comfortable and well balanced.

Also people are being misleading about gamepad being required to play. Whats great about WiiU is most games support many types of control input. I regularly go from offTV on gamepad to onTv with pro controller. Wiimote is supported for a lot of games as well. So people act like somehow WiiU or gamepad is limiting when the truth is it offers more ways to play than any other system. Some games like MH3U, ME3 and AC4 I actually liked using both the gamepad and pro controller together. I setup gamepad in the little stand off to my right and use it for the mapping or in the case of MH for extra buttons. To me, a gamer since pong, that is hardcore and that ads extra immersion. WiiU gamepad has an icredibly acurate gyro so I can't wait to see how starfox uses it for control.



Genesaur said:

@QuickSilver88 Dude, straight up. I'm always saying that the Wii U is going to be regarded as one of the most retroactively beloved consoles, showing up on all sorts of nostalgic, underrated lists in ten years, or so.

Just like how, when living through the GameCube era, I was frequently ridiculed by my peers for my console of choice (I was in high school, mind you), but now, who can speak ill of the GameCube? Even the humorously hateful Yahtzee never has anything bad to say about it.

This is just the fate of Nintendo. Ever the innovator, rarely understood, let alone appreciated, until well after, unless of course it makes a big splash with the mainstream like the Wii. Then, it's easier to be a Nintendo fan.

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