I just went back through my blog posts for the last year just to try and track my own thoughts and opinions of the Wii U since it was formally announced last year. I had thought by this point we would have more info on the system and that many of these ideas would be debunked, but to be honest nothing much has changed in terms of what we know. Check this post out. Those sections bracketed with 'Original Suggestion' were written by myself prior to E3 2011. The sections titled 'Revision' were written a few weeks after E3 2011.
(Post from June 22, 2011)
Several weeks have passed since my last post, in which I was full of excitement for the potential applications of what was then labelled the 'Cafe Controller'. Three days later we were formally introduced to the Wii U ('is it unique? Unifying? Maybe even Utopian?' - Reggie Fils-Aime). In the wake of that unveiling and the news stories surrounding it I have had to reassess the likelihood of some of my more lofty suggestions and therefore thought it prudent to revisit these concepts in light of this new information. Super Mario (Original Suggestion)
- Some of the best moments in Super Mario Galaxy 2 were those sections where you dropped down one of those infamous mushroom kingdom pipes and found yourself on the other end playing a classic 2-D Mario level. What made these sections so cool was that one minute you could be flying in 3D space around a spherical planet and the next you would be jumping and hopping on a 2D plain as if the last 20 years of video game developement had never happened. It was great. So why not build upon and emphasise this concept by having those 2D portions put on the Cafe controller screen? You could even have simultaneous play on both screens ala Bower's Inside Story. It's true that this style of game play was seen on the DS and is likely to be seen on the 3DS, but if Project Cafe is (as is reported) more powerful than any of the home consoles currently on the market then the scope afforded to this sort of game would be significantly expanded. Television Screen Controller Screen
- Post E3 Verdict - Still Possible[/b]
- By and large I think this suggestion still holds water. If I were to make any amendments in light of what was shown at E3 I would perhaps stress the potential for multiplayer, as the majority of those 'proof of concept' demos shown had a strong focus on multiple players.
In the weeks following E3 Nintendo appear to have all but confirmed that they will not be focusing on any experiences which require multiple Wii U controllers. With that in mind, an idea I've been kicking around for how multiplayer might work for a 3D Mario game on Wii U is that while Player 1 is playing a 3D Mario game on the Wii U controller screen, other players are using Wii remotes (NES Style) to play a separate game on the television screen. This would allow for a co-operative experience in which Player 1 might be unable to reach a specific platform without the help of those other Players, who might, for instance, be playing a mini-game which causes the platform to raise or lower. Ok, so I'm no Miyamoto when it comes to game design, but you get the idea. Metroid (Original Suggestion)
- Metroid: Other M may not be the most loved in the series, but it definitely had some cool and interesting ideas. One such idea was the concept of shifting between the third and first person perspective. Unfortunately this concept was hindered somewhat by Director Yoshiro Sakamoto's decision to cram all of the required gameplay mechanics onto a single Wii Remote (even refusing to utilise the nunchuck to provide an optional alternative control scheme for those who desired it). This choice had some pretty serious repurcussions for how the game played, as it effectively meant that the player was forced to continually change their grip on the Wii remote in order to point it at the screen. Enter Project Cafe. Third Person action game on the main screen, first person shooting with the touch screen on the controller. Problem solved. Television Screen Controller Screen
- Post E3 Verdict - More Likely
- I feel that this idea has also remained valid. Knowing what I now know about the controller's built-in gyroscopes I would also add that holding the controller up to the television screen might provide quite an elegant solution for scanning environments. As good as the method for selecting visors was in Metroid Prime 3, this could be even better. Pikmin (Original Suggestion)
- Pikmin 2 was a fantastic game. It took the original lite strategy elements of the original and expanded upon them in pretty much every way. The final level of the original, for instance, required our plucky protagonist Captain Olimar to move back and forth between several groups of Pikmin, each of which were performing different tasks which had to be timed in order to allow the other groups of pikmin to continue. Pikmin 2 took this idea and ran with it thanks to the inclusion of Captain Olimar's sidekick Louie. In Pikmin 2, therefore, the player was tasked with switching between both characters as each led their own band of Pikmin to perform various goals. Fun though it was, it did on occasion feel overwhelming as it was often difficult to find your bearings as the camera switched between the two locations. Having both groups of Pikmin viewable at any one time, one group on the television and another on the controller, would do much to mitigate this confusion.
- You can grow and tend to your Pikmin crop/farm on the controller screen without the need to go back to base. Damn it I'm good.*** Television Screen Controller Screen
- Post E3 Verdict - More Likely
As with several of my single-player focused suggestions this concept of being able to monitor two separate groups of Pikmin remains feasible. The majority of video game media outlets have reported that the screen on the Wii U controller was of sufficiently high quality that moving between a High Def screen and the controller screen was not jarring. If anything, this, coupled with the rather quiet announcement that Pikmin 3 will indeed be released on Wii U, has made this suggestion more likely. Street Fighter (Original Suggestion)
- We've all experienced it. You sit down with a buddy to play a friendly bout of Street Fighter. With each match, however, the testosterone in the atmosphere builds and both partys begin to take the virtual fight increasingly more serious. Eventually half your time is spent waiting for your 'buddy' who has paused the game in order to review their move list. Throw that stuff to the controller screen. Problem solved. Television Screen Controller Screen
- Post E3 Verdict - Less Likely
Whereas many of my suggested applications for single-player still have potential, it seems that many of my spitballs for multiplayer have been made irrelevant thanks to Nintendo's percieved focus on only having one Wii U controller. Given that fighting games tend to be a purely 1 on 1 affair this concept may actually still be possible, particularly if players are able to bring their controller over to a friend's system, unfortunately that may be made more cumbersome thanks to the sheer size of the controller. Paper Mario/Yoshi's Island (Original Suggestion)
- Nintendo have a history of creating art styles which are patterned (pun intended) after real world arts & crafts, with games like Paper Mario, Yoshi's Island, WarioWare and most recently Kirby's Epic Yarn. When Ubisoft released the uDraw peripheral back in November I remember thinking how cool it would be if Nintendo were to use something similar to allow gamers to contribute their own art to a game. Think Mario Paint meets Okami meets Drawn to Life. I love the idea, for instance, of drawing some wacky little character only for them to return as an enemy later in the game. You've all seen that Spongebob episode right? Well, it would be like that but with Bowser instead of Squidward and Yoshi instead of Garry. Television Screen Controller Screen
- Post E3 Verdict - More Likely
Using the Wii U controller for creative and artistic purposes already seems to be something that Nintendo are seriously considering. Not only does the Wii U Controller have a built-in stylus, but footage presented by Nintendo even showed a budding artist honing his craft by drawing a Twilight Princess era Link. At first we might expect a Wii U equivalent of Flipnote Studio or perhaps even a reboot of Mario Paint, but I'm hopeful that this could also mean something cool for Paper Mario. Super Smash Bros. (Original Suggestion)
- Last but not least, Nintendo's flagship multiplayer mashup, Super Smash Bros. The best thing about Smash Bros. of course is getting three friends around the television (either with items on or off, depending on your preference) and beating the hell out of each other. There is, however, one thing about the current set-up which can kill some of the enjoyment, and that's being put out of the brawl at an early stage and being resigned to a mere spectator. That's where the controller screen comes in. Rather than making the losers sit there watching the more experienced players battle it out for the top spot, why not allow them to drop down to the controller screen to duke it out for third place? That way everyone's having fun. Television Screen Controller Screen
- Post E3 Verdict - Less Likely
My favourite suggestion of the bunch. We did get a rather hushed acknowledgement that the next instalments in the Super Smash Bros. series will be released on Wii U and 3DS, but the concept of allowing eliminated players to brawl for pride on their own individual controller screens now seems far less likely. As cool as it may have been, Nintendo's hesitance to confirm that multiple Wii U controllers will be supported has all but sunk this concept.
Another option might have been that players link their 3Ds's up to the Wii U as controllers, and if I thought that Nintendo would support this then my suggestion may still have had some semblance of plausibility. However, I do not think that it is likely that Nintendo would make such an explicit comparison between the Wii U controller and the 3DS. There has already been much confusion and discussion over whether or not the Wii U controller is, or should have been, a portable device. Nintendo will not want to muddy the waters further by having these devices be interchangeable.
It's weird to think that it's a year later and we're still no closer to knowing exactly what the Wii U is. It feels almost as if the Wii U is being officially announced for a second time at this year's E3.