E3 2011: Chase Mii Preview Hands-On

We get our hands on the Wii U Tab in this fun tech demo.


Nintendo Land

Years ago, before technology permeated everyday life, kids used to play a game called tag. One unlucky soul would be dubbed "it," and the other participants would scatter to the wind in a mad attempt to avoid being touched by the chaser. It's a timeless concept, but why would you exert all that effort running around outside when you can have the same basic experience on a video game console? Chase Mii is a novel spin on the classic childhood game that makes full use of the Nintendo Wii U's tablet controller. We got a chance to run around in this colorful technical demo earlier today.

Chase Mii is a five-player game that bears more than a passing resemblance to the GameCube/Game Boy Advance connected Pac-Man Vs. One player commandeers the U Tab (and controls Mario), which serves as his playfield. You can see your character running around on the left side of the six-inch screen, and you get an overhead view of the entire map on the right. The other four players have a Wii Remote and use the television screen to play. They run around the playfield from a third-person perspective, trying to capture Mario. It's like a reverse game of tag and is a lot more fun in practice than it sounds written out.

First, the experience as one of the hunters is one that puts a strong emphasis on cooperation. The map we played in was a color-coded circle split into four quadrants: red, blue, green, and yellow. Whoever is "it" gets a few seconds to hide, and then you have to hunt that rascally scallywag down and tag him good. But finding Mario is easier said than done. You don't have access to an overhead map like the person with the tablet controller, so you have to scout out Mario's position the old-fashioned way. In our time with the game, one person assumed the role of spotter. They found high ground on the map and then cast their gaze across the map until they found Mario.

From there, things turn into a crazy dash to tag that Italian. The chasers don't have any special items or even a jump button to aid them in their quest. It's just a pure running competition, which means the most effective way to corral Mario is to use teamwork to block his path. This is where things become quite fun. Yelling "He's running toward blue!" or "I'll cut him off in the middle" brings with it a feeling of excitement and immediacy. It's hard not to get sucked in, even though the nuts and bolts of the experience are so simple.

Things are even more interesting when it's your turn to be it. Now you have a view of the entire map, so the element of surprise has been eliminated. As the chasee, you have to outsmart your pursuers. When you hear "Head him off at the blue intersection!" you can just turn around and go toward yellow instead. When you find an impassable tract of land (no one can jump, so raised ground can't be crossed), you can just run around it until you lose the people hunting you down. And there's even a star that appears during certain times in the match. You can pick this up if you're feeling feisty and knock your friends to the ground.

As of right now, Chase Mii is just a tech demo. It hasn't been announced as a full-fledged game yet, so don't get your hopes too high for some indoor tag action. But what's here is quite fun and is a good showcase for how the Wii U can extend the reach of local competitive games. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more information. Who knows, maybe this will be a real game at some point.

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