Super Mario World

Since the Wii U's launch there's been much talk about the role of the GamePad with the system, and we're sure most would agree that — to date — it's failed to have the same impact on how we play games as the Wii Remote in the last generation. The thinking behind the controller is clear, as Nintendo saw the rising popularity of tablet devices and the beginnings of multi-screen play and weighed in with its own bespoke solution. Regardless of good intentions of even arguably sound policies in the development years before the system came to market, it's also tough to avoid the conclusion that a harsh spotlight is currently shining on the controller.

There have been stand-out examples where the GamePad has provided enjoyable, innovative and unique experiences. Its various capabilities were put to work in early titles such as Nintendo Land and ZombiU, it was a simple but valuable control option for online play and voice chat in Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, and it added some fun to specific stages in the outstanding Super Mario 3D World. Rather like with Nintendo Land, the big N has tried to boost the appeal of the controller through mini-games in particular, with Game & Wario and Wii Party U being examples.

Yet the controller, and the system as a whole, are struggling at present. The recent major release of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze also raised questions about Nintendo's ongoing commitment to fully utilising the controller in its biggest games — despite a presumably lengthy development period Retro Studios made no use of the GamePad's capabilities beyond off-TV play. There's a lingering sense that, in the core triple-A Nintendo releases, the controller is coming secondary to producing the game experience that fans expect; that can be argued as a good thing, though weakens the position of the pad.

We're perhaps seeing a shift in the Wii U's focus. During his Q3 financial briefing earlier this year, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata outlined how the company would bring the GamePad to the fore though a new quick-start option that only uses the controller, to the expected prominence of NFC at E3 2014 — we've already argued that NFC could be a big deal. In addition DS games have been announced that'll use the controller's touch screen, and Game Boy Advance titles are just days away. That brings us to the Virtual Console, and leaves us wondering whether the retro game service will be integral to promoting the controller to enthusiastic Nintendo veterans, in particular.

Mega Man VC

We're going to tackle the arrival of Game Boy Advance games on the Wii U Virtual Console in an editorial soon, but first we want to know how much you use the GamePad for playing Virtual Console games. Off-TV play has already been cited by the Nintendo Life community as a notable feature in past polls, and we're left wondering whether the mix of NES, Super NES and soon Game Boy Advance games are best enjoyed on that sizeable 6.2 inch screen. When these retro games are blown up on modern, large HD TVs they don't necessarily look their best, but the lower resolution, smaller size and softer overall image of the Wii U controller perhaps show these ageing visuals in a better light. On top of that, finding a comfortable chair and a pair of headphones is perhaps the best way to enjoy games where flashy modern HD visuals aren't a concern.

With the controller having everything you need to enjoy these retro titles, perhaps Nintendo's tablet-with-physical-controls approach truly suits these older titles. Maybe that's not the case, and that off-TV is largely unused with NES and SNES classics being beamed through your TVs. With the role of the controller certainly a source for debate, we want to know whether it's actually the perfect tool — in your opinion — for enjoying older games in the best possible way.

We want to know what you think, so let us know in the polls and comments below.

Do you often play Virtual Console games utilising off-TV on the GamePad? (707 votes)

  1. All of the time, it's the best way to play them28%
  2. Sometimes, I alternate between the TV and GamePad44%
  3. Occasionally, but only when I have to9%
  4. Not really, I'd rather use the TV and perhaps even another controller8%
  5. Never, it's not a worthwhile option at all2%
  6. I don't own a Wii U / don't have any VC games for my Wii U8%

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Are you planning to play Game Boy Advance games on the GamePad (678 votes)

  1. Definitely, it'll be the only way to play them23%
  2. I am, but I will use the TV sometimes too45%
  3. I want to play them on the TV13%
  4. I don't plan to buy any Game Boy Advance games on the Wii U Virtual Console10%
  5. I don't own a Wii U OR I think GBA games should be on 3DS, not Wii U9%

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Considering your previous answers and the upcoming GBA / DS libraries, how important is the GamePad's role for the Wii U Virtual Console? (674 votes)

  1. It's vital. The screen and control options are perfect for enjoying Virtual Console games34%
  2. Quite important, though not integral to enjoying Virtual Console games42%
  3. Not that important, to be honest15%
  4. Not vital at all, and I don't think GBA and DS games are the right fit for a home console7%
  5. I'm not interested in the GamePad or the Wii U Virtual Console2%

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