E3 2011: Wii U: Changing the Way You Play

How will the Wii U's new controller affect your favorite Nintendo franchises? GameSpot's editorial team considers the possibilities.

by

Of all the questions surrounding Nintendo's successor to the Wii--dubbed the Wii U--there's one drawing more attention than others: How will the games change to properly harness what the Wii U has to offer? This is an especially important question in relation to third-party developers and their games because, historically, third-party developers are less likely to embrace hardware that falls outside the standard development environment for a proper console. More specifically, if it's going to cost a company more money to develop a feature for the Wii U that it can properly replicate on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, then the game in question is less likely to get that treatment.

For Nintendo, this scenario doesn't apply. As the platform holder, Nintendo has always been in a position to harness its hardware in ways that fall outside conventional thinking. In some ways, its games function as a little nudge, showing third-party developers the directions they can take with their games. We've seen this happen before with games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, as well as with more recent games like Pilotwings, Super Mario 64, Animal Crossing, and Pikmin.

In fact, the news of Pikmin appearing on the Nintendo Wii U got us thinking about how the experience of playing Pikmin, and other Nintendo games, will change when they make the leap to the next generation. The GameSpot editorial staff put its brightest (and semi-delirious) editors together to think of obvious and perhaps some not-so-obvious ways that Nintendo's most beloved properties can utilize the new hardware and its controller.

F-Zero

Predictable: Nintendo's first racing game for the Super Nintendo put forth a dazzling display of Mode 7 sprite scaling effects that created pseudo 3D tracks and worlds in which to race around. For its Wii U incarnation, one of the first things that came to mind was a track editor--easily manipulated with the Wii U controller's touch screen. Of course, there are some other obvious uses. The controller's gyroscope and accelerometer also make it an effective steering wheel and the controller can display a map of the track.

Out There: Picture laying the Wii tablet controller flat. Now, imagine having a cockpit control panel displayed on the touch screen, complete with an interactive throttle lever and turbo button. Actually moving your craft around the track still requires the Wii Nunchuk's (because the system is backwards compatible with all Wii hardware) analog stick.

Super Mario Bros.

Predictable: When Mario goes into a warp pipe, he appears on the controller screen where he moves around in a 2D space. The game switches back up to the TV screen when he goes back up the warp pipe. This would probably make more sense in a game like Super Mario Bros. Mii than any of the 3D Mario games like Galaxy, but we still like the idea. An even simpler idea would be to use the screen as a special magnifying glass that can detect boos in the haunted mansion portions of the game.

Out There: Imagine playing a side-scrolling Mario platformer where Nintendo's mascot has to make his way across gaps too large to jump across. By holding up the Wii U controller to the screen, you can bridge individual gaps with a warp pipe, allowing Mario to move safely on his way to the other side of the gap.

Mario Kart

Predictable: Like F-Zero, steering your kart using the controller's gyroscope and accelerometer seems like an easy implementation because it has the track display on the lower screen. But for some slightly less obvious uses, how about holding the controller up to the screen to aim projectiles or to block those fired at you from competing players (not unlike blocking the arrows in the Shield Pose demo at the show)?

Out There: Let's say Mario Kart has pit stops, and you pull in during a race to switch out your tires. What if you could hold the controller up to the screen (or put it down on a table) and use your finger to unscrew the nuts on the tire? Then you take the tire off the axle by picking up the controller and setting it down before moving to the next tire. This might be a bit much for the driver to handle during a race and because it's not clear if the Wii U will support multiple tablet controllers, maybe one player would become the designated mechanic.

The Legend of Zelda

Predictable: We already have some idea of how a Zelda game would function on the Wii U, thanks to the tech demo of a reimagined Twilight Princess sequence on display at E3 2011. A map and inventory items are fairly obvious choices, but we're interested in whether there's anything beyond being able to switch the main action from the TV to your controller. Additionally, we wouldn't be surprised if spyglass functionality were incorporated through the controller as well.

Out There: One of the best aspects of A Link to the Past was how it presented the idea of alternate dimensions. What if the Zelda Wii U game took the same concept but integrated it in a way so that the screen on the controller was a constant window into the other dimension, allowing you to see how that same location looks (or how it's affected by your actions) in real time.

Wii Sports

Predictable: The worst (or best, depending on how you view it) thing Nintendo could do with a Wii U Sports game is just do the same things it did with the original Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, but…

Out There: Thankfully, the Wii U trailer shown at E3 2011 already illustrated some great uses for the screen in a Wii Sports scenario. Being able to look down and see the golf ball at your feet was particularly neat, as was the idea of using the controller as a virtual mitt for baseball. We don't have anything to add except maybe a game of horseshoes where you flick the Wii Remote at the tablet on the ground?

Animal Crossing

Predictable: There's so much little stuff you can do with an Animal Crossing game on the Wii U that it's almost daunting to consider. Being able to actually write letters, design clothing patterns with the stylus; and unwrap presents received from other townspeople offer limitless possibilities when it comes to things that would be easy to integrate.

Out There: There really isn't anything that would be too out there for a game like Animal Crossing. The game has continually been used as a demonstration for innovative ways to use hardware, starting with the GameCube version and its connectivity features with the GBA.

Metroid

Predictable: Given Metroid Prime's mechanics, scanning with the tablet screen seems like a no-brainer idea. The same goes for the map and inventory screen, as well as tilting the screen to control Samus while she's in morph ball mode.

Out There: When we started thinking of out-there ideas for Metroid, we had to look toward one of the lesser-known details of the Metroid Prime series. Whenever Samus changed the firing mode on her arm cannon, her hand and fingers changed inside the cannon to compensate for the weapon's transformation. Spreading your fingers out in specific shapes on the touch screen might be an incredibly annoying feature, but it's still kind of out there.

Pikmin

Predictable: Pikmin took the core attributes of a real-time strategy game and turned it into something much more intimate. But the Wii U could give you a chance to have more precise control. Imagine drawing attack patterns on the touch screen. A group of blue Pikmin could draw an enemy toward water while your burly purples come up from behind to take the beast unaware. Here's another idea: Use the tablet to fling Pikmin at enemies. Or what about controlling multiple sets of Pikmin at once with a bird's-eye view of the entire map?

Out There: Pikmin are cute (don't try to deny it!), but they're kind of lazy. A little time in the gym would give them brawn to go with their beauty. Put them through training routines on the touch screen to make them stronger when you go into battle. In the first two Pikmin games, they grow a flower on their heads if they stay planted long enough. But this would give you a more hands-on approach to leveling up.

Super Smash Bros.

Predictable: Super Smash Bros. isn't really known for pushing hardware in any particularly innovative way, but there are some opportunities to do some cool things with the Wii U. Imagine if the player holding the Wii U controller took on the role of the Master Hand, poking characters or dropping specific items in the battle.

Out There: This one is too much of a challenge. Let us know what you think would work in the comments below!

For more info on Nintendo's latest console, the Wii U, be sure to check out our Nintendo Wii U: Everything You Need To Know feature or watch Nintendo's E3 2011 Press Conference to see the full reveal.

Discussion

280 comments
wexorian
wexorian

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

eXe-infinity
eXe-infinity

I still have yet to see a 2-player classic mode in a new super smash bros.

davidoats2
davidoats2

I believe that super mario galaxy 3 is coming on the Nintendo Wii U soon.

xtiansk8
xtiansk8

I hope Super Smash Bros. doesn't add up too much when taking account the new Wii U controller. The way the game is played is really awesome. I like it how it is, but make the graphics better, try to make a bigger character roster, more arenas (also keeping the classic ones of course), and another story mode would be great. The one in brawl was pretty cool.

cprmauldin
cprmauldin

The controller would work great for RPGs and strategy games (Item, skill and Unit management, etc.).

DanSpinoso
DanSpinoso

role playing games would be really good on this...just like PC the touch screen could have hot keys and stuff, to make fighting much more fun and flowing. like changing magic, weapons etc, just say special moves could be done by doing something cool on the screen...trace over a lighting bolt...the better you do the more damage. ....actually thinking of that ...smash bothers could use that feature too. when you fight you gain some 'super bar' or something and when you fill it up you can draw the special of your choice..each character will have 3 or so of their own specials. yo

grim0187
grim0187

Alot of good ideas. TGS will show more for this. Lets hope they get creative with it!

TBoneTony
TBoneTony

I was wondering. Would it be funny if the Smash Bros WiiU game was called Super Smash Bros F-U? I wonder if that could be a good idea for the WiiU version for that game.

kman242424
kman242424

Hey rarson, It does support multiple tablets. Look at this video and go to the 6:10 minute mark and you will see at least two people using the tablet in the same game. Check your facts. http://youtu.be/p99ghcy450E

TheNexusDenizen
TheNexusDenizen

Use for Wii U with Super Smash Bros: Display a close-up of the player ( with enough space around to see enemies etc.) on the tablet, and attack by tapping and/or dragging hands feet and accessories on the touch screen. This would allow a much greater variety of attacks, for example tapping an incoming blow at the right moment could initiate a counter, with alternate counters performed by perhaps simultaneously tapping both the player and enemy at stragic locations. Is this a good idea or is it too ambitious for smash bros?

adriande2
adriande2

I hope that there will be a F-Zero game. I really enjoyed F-Zero GX on the gamecube but I haven't seen anything besides rumors about one for the Wii(which obviously did not and will not happen.) I'm actually wondering if there will ever be another F-zero game. As for first person shooters, they should just stick with Wiimote and nunchuck controls, those worked pretty well, in my opinion.

dreamgod247
dreamgod247

The Wii and the motion control was fun for a few years, but then gamers where getting tired of it. Whats sells the system is not motion control but games. If you don't have the big games everybody wants to play, then no one wants to play on your system. What might happen is the Wii U will attract new gamers, with inovating controller, but Xbox 720 and PS4 are coming out soon and gamers will forget all bout the Wii U

rarson
rarson

"it's not clear if the Wii U will support multiple tablet controllers" Yes it is, because it won't. If you read the interview with Miyamoto on Nintendo's E3 web site, you'd have read them confirm that it supports one tablet controller and 4 Wiimotes. And it's pretty obvious too, when you think about it, that it streaming all that video to multiple tablets would take a lot of wireless bandwidth.

josecer
josecer

What about in Super Smash Bros Making it 3d environment.

norabbitnofun
norabbitnofun

Mario Kart: What - no editor suggestion to use the controller as a mirror to see who's coming from behind??? (And I would love a forearm mount to do the same in an FPS, or increase immersion into a netrunner's world...) Metroid: (and other "FPS") me nunchuk = driver, U-tab = shooter, and we have a tank, ha ha ha! Coop Puzzle games: I solve my part on my U-tab, you solve yours on yours, and we put together the bigger puzzle pieces that result (on the big screen). Tetris: hey, we have a screen for each now! Turn-based strategy games: we each plan our moves in secrecy on our U-tab's (well if you can keep me from peeking at your screen, that is!) It's too bad we have not had any better obvious use of the touch function of the DS screen - we could just transpose it here. On another thought - how easy will it be to go from the sticks / buttons to the touch scfreen and vice-versa? Will games be able to incorporate both buttons and touch use at the same time?

pinicolaroxa
pinicolaroxa

What about a new HD 2d Castlevania Right before a boss dies he gives you a big punch that throws you out of the tv and putting you on the controller screen where you have to go up some dangerous stairs to go back to the Tv and finish the boss off.

King-gamer
King-gamer

For Smash bros, just use the touch screen as a move short cut like what SSFIV 3D edition on 3DS did. Touch the screen to do a smash attack, or use a special, no need to hold direction plus a button even though it's actually not that difficult.... Or maybe give a character with a final smash that let's say, turns you invisible on the big screen, but on the controller you can still see you character just fine allowing you to perform some cool sneak attacks without others being able to see it.

Agelu
Agelu

Great idea for an article.

ripcurl105
ripcurl105

For Super Smash Bros., I think they should expand and improve the already existing Spectator Mode for Wi-Fi Connection or with guests in your living room. For Spectator Mode, I suggest the option of viewing the fights on the TV or on the tablet (obvious), but with a twist. Offline or online, the spectator in the living room will have different options that affect the outcome of the battle. I would add the option of choosing and giving items either to your favorite or his/her enemies. They give you three to choose from. You choose the character (or player) you want to help (or destroy...) by selecting him either using the touch screen or using the tablet, aim the tablet at the TV, aim the tablet at the character icon of your preference, and press send (touch screen) or hold the tablet over the character icon for a few seconds and it'll send the item automatically. This way, the spectators will feel like they are there watching the fight and feel part of it as they interact with the players and affect the outcome. It would be very interesting to see this feature in tournaments. Also, spectators can bet while they watch the fight. They watch the fight on the TV while they bet on the tablet. That's all I can suggest at this point. And on that note, I wish Nintendo the best of luck on finding new ways to play games on the Wii U and the other surprises they have in store for a us. Looking very foward to it! :)

comb5
comb5

So maybe someone beat me to this. But with the Wii Zapper, in the demo we saw him using it as a zoom in to shoot the people in the building. Well that could easily be applied to any War game. You wouldn't have to press a button to aim down the sights, you would just look at the screen on the controller and that would be your scoped/ADS view.

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

I love that Nintendo has us thinking about new ideas for games like this. I imagine it's quite the same at developer studios at the moment as well. Stock holders (well, the stupid ones) may not have much confidence in the WiiU, but already it's got people thinking about new ways to play games (and most ideas are less gimmicky than Wiimote waggling). Cheers Nintendo. You may have your naysayers, but even when you stumble you still advance the gaming industry.

blackace
blackace

Very cool. Can't wait to see what new ideas come out of this new system. There's a lot of potential.

elancion
elancion

virtual playbook for sports games cool

waggabu
waggabu

There was this old arcade game...I think it was called "Lucky and Wild" that let one player drive a car while the other one hanged out the window shooting. You could totally have the tablet hooked to a gun and give full 360 views for the shooter (e.g. turn around and take out that guy tailing you that the driver can only see in his rear view mirror on the main screen).

mstormer
mstormer

I think for smash bros that they won't do anything innovative with the Wii U... They'll probably just display everyone's Hp and all that...

Distinctive_Fin
Distinctive_Fin

@ zequex Not bad, but remember that it was sites like this that gave the name "Wii-mote". I bet you have a couple of other suggestions just as good or better.

BLANDTREVOR
BLANDTREVOR

Or you can use the new screen to press pause! :DDD

Nightrain50
Nightrain50

The controller itself is a means to an end. No one wants to be looking down at it. It takes you out of immersion in a game. The controller is a gimmick. The only real use is for people who need the screen because their hdtv is being used by someone else in the house. All other uses are lame and no one would be looking down at their controller.

zequex
zequex

@Distinctive_Fin How about the umote?

Distinctive_Fin
Distinctive_Fin

@ montblanc512 Psst. . .. That's why they made the Classic Controller for the Wii. . . Shhhh. . . don't tell anyone I leaked this well known info. . . =-p

Raxyman
Raxyman

Wii U IS a good idea, but i'm not trusting Nintendo anymore since DSi. They promised good games out-of-the-box using the cameras and such, and i've seen none (Foto Showdown is crap before anyone says it). It's more a less the same with Kinect, great idea staled because game producers are afraid to be original. I hate how derivative games ruin the fun of nowadays consoles...

Distinctive_Fin
Distinctive_Fin

@ ReplayGuy That is so awesome! Maybe have a second player use a Wii-mote/ Nunchuck to play the top character. . .

Distinctive_Fin
Distinctive_Fin

Come on Gamespot, you can think of something worthwhile for the new controller. Try moving the stats to the new controller. Or a fifth player could either join in or take video/ pictures during the battle. A "Master Hand" mode would allow the player with the new controller to choose what items appeared and when. How are those? By the way, we need to come up with a nickname for this until Nintendo does. "New Controller" just doesn't cut it. I'm thinking "View", any other suggestions?

kenerhai
kenerhai

With Super Smash Bros I could see a 4 way fight start out on the tv and end up two on two on 4 seperate controller screens, or at least at a portion of a match. Like the moving levels. What if the screen splits and two go one way, and two go another. They must now play on the controller screens (where two battle it out, on two different areas, on four different controllers), untill they are all reunited again. Or what about out of match mini games.

diggyman
diggyman

Now that they'll have a powerful, robust system and an allegedly STRONG 3rd party backing, can Nintendo win back core gamers? Man I hope so. Innovation keeps this industry from being stale.

kazumashadow
kazumashadow

Wii U can have some great used but i can see most rpgs and some other games using its touch screen only for inventory management, hope they use it in imaginative ways and not only as an simple additional feature.

elancion
elancion

well all in all i guess its still too early to speculate , especially since Nintendo has not revealed much outside of the wii-u controller and a few tech demos.and who knows that might be liable to change (remember the 1st ps3 controller before they reverted back to the original design).We might just have to wait till the next Tokyo Game Show to see more. maybe by that time we'll get a true sense of what Nintendo's new console is capable of.

alfredghom
alfredghom

For Super Smash Bros on the Wii U, there should be a specific character view option in which each Wii U controller will only allow the player to see what is in front of the character being controlled. This will allow sneak attacks from behind.

lifemeister
lifemeister

For Cod or BF3 while you're waiting to respawn you could take a picture of your facial reaction, responding to the dude that killed you. People would abuse this capability. Maybe not a great idea, but would be cool.

DS-man
DS-man

The way gamespot talks about a zelda game for the Wii-U sounds great, Speacily a spyglass effect withthe controler.

lifemeister
lifemeister

For RPGs, you wouldn't have to switch to the menus in order to customize...it would all be on the controller.

lifemeister
lifemeister

If you're playing a sports game, you could have player/game statistics on the screen controller, this would be unique and will help for better strategies.

lifemeister
lifemeister

While playing being able to have the home menu on the controller screen and you could pull up the trophies, achievements, or what ever Nintendo uses. You could quick launch another game or app.

sceptileblade
sceptileblade

Maybe for super smash attacks, like pikachu's or sonic's, you could use the touchscreen to move.