Pikmin 3 Gamepad

Yesterday brought us some interesting comments from Ubisoft Managing Director Nicolas Rioux, who spoke about the potential prominence of "second screen" gaming, even going so far as to praise the Wii U as an innovative first step. As we observed in that article, it'd be a nasty piece of irony if technical considerations led to third-parties utilising these ideas on rival systems and not Wii U, especially as Nintendo's system is the only hardware with that second screen included in the box.

It's also another example, perhaps, of Nintendo recognising and pursuing a trend before others pick up on its potential. When the Wii U was unveiled some dismissed it as a enormous DS, which was an oversimplification of what it's all about. Big-name developers questioned whether gamers would want to be looking from the TV to a secondary screen, and whether it would cause a disconnect damaging to the overall experience. These issues were arguably part of a swirl of negative press that engulfed the system in its earliest days.

And yet, now second screen gaming is somewhat in vogue. E3 2013 had demonstrations from Microsoft, Ubisoft and others that took at least one opportunity to show a game working in tandem with a smartphone or tablet device. In some cases those screens and the game were working together — which is a core feature of the Wii U — and in other examples games will have accompanying apps that interact and influence the in-game world when not on the console. Focusing on Nintendo, even Pikmin 3 adopts the first idea in a more disconnected sense, with the GamePad becoming an assist item when playing with the Remote and Nunchuk, useful to have at hand in a similar manner to an external tablet device.

Nintendo's approach, though, largely focuses on being intuitive and bespoke. With Wii U there's off-TV play — which seems simple but is still a nice trick — and asynchronous multiplayer, the latter representing a stronger celebration of having the second screen integrated with the system. We've seen clever usage in single player games, too, with the likes of ZombiU using the controller as an assist tool and a threat, raising tension as you handle an inventory in real time.

When it comes to integration, of course, it doesn't get more connected than with the DS family of systems and 3DS. The clamshell design may have prompted some bemusement and chortles when unveiled years ago, but both sets of systems (DS and 3DS) now account for over 180 million unit sales. The touch screen is sometimes used for inventories or maps, yes, but sometimes play stretches across both screens, the handheld can held sideways for a larger view, and the proximity of the screens arguably takes away issues of the player's view being distracted. In fact, the clamshell design even puts Nintendo in an awkward spot for future handheld systems: the moment it releases a system with only one screen, and assuming that screen is still portable, backward compatibility becomes almost impossible. But then why would Nintendo drop the dual-screen design? It's working a charm.

Perhaps an issue for Nintendo, or more precisely its third-party partners, is that it's enforcing two screens — though Sony is sort of doing the same with compulsory PS4 / Vita mirroring. Second screens are becoming all the rage, but outside of Nintendo's platforms they're optional, whereas on 3DS and Wii U some developers have to resort to barely using the second screen at all, as creative usage of the extra real estate may not fit what they're trying to achieve. The most important question, perhaps, is how much dual / second screen gaming we, as consumers, want, or whether we'd prefer the simplicity of staring at one screen alone.

We want to know what you think about dual screen gaming as a trend, and its role on Nintendo's systems. Are you a fan of the experiences it offers, or do you miss the simpler days when it was last merely an occasional dalliance with the GameCube and Game Boy Advance link cable? Drop your votes and comments below.

Do you enjoy the dual screen usage on DS and 3DS systems? (499 votes)

  1. I'm a huge fan, and I think it improves games a lot43%
  2. I quite like it, and it works well a lot of the time50%
  3. I'm on the fence, to be honest2%
  4. I'm not a huge fan, but I can tolerate it4%
  5. I don't like it at all  0.6%
  6. None of the above  0.6%

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Do you think the dual screen setup is used well on DS / 3DS? (483 votes)

  1. Absolutely, whether simple or complicated, it always works32%
  2. In a lot of cases yes, it's used well60%
  3. I'm not sure, to be honest4%
  4. Aside from occasional examples, the dual screen usage feels mediocre at best3%
  5. Practically never, we'd be better off with just one screen1%
  6. None of the above  0.6%

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Would you prefer Nintendo's next handheld to be dual or single screen? (481 votes)

  1. I want another dual screen system, no doubt45%
  2. I'd prefer dual screen, but would happily shift back to single screen23%
  3. I don't know, I'd need to understand the next hardware better to decide22%
  4. I think I'd prefer a return to single screen, but dual would be fine7%
  5. Single screen all the way2%
  6. None of the above1%

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Do you enjoy the second screen usage of the GamePad on Wii U? (456 votes)

  1. I'm a huge fan, and I think it improves games a lot26%
  2. I quite like it, and it works well a lot of the time45%
  3. I'm on the fence, to be honest14%
  4. I'm not a huge fan, but I can tolerate it8%
  5. I don't like it at all3%
  6. None of the above5%

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In your opinion, is the GamePad's additional screen used well? (458 votes)

  1. Absolutely, however it's used it always brings something extra to games13%
  2. For the most part, it often improves a game40%
  3. I'm not sure at the moment17%
  4. Only occasionally, it often feels unnecessary or wasted22%
  5. I don't think so, I prefer to play without it5%
  6. None of the above3%

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Are you interested in "second screen" experiences on other systems? (464 votes)

  1. Definitely, I'm keen to see it more and more14%
  2. I am interested, and will check it out when it seems worthwhile19%
  3. I need to learn and see more of it first14%
  4. I'm not sold on the idea of smartphones / tablets integrating with games just yet28%
  5. Definitely not, why would I need a second screen?5%
  6. I only play Nintendo systems, so no18%
  7. None of the above1%

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