Morph balls, space ships, and blasters, oh my!
Battle Mii, slightly reminiscent of Star Fox 64 or Metroid Prime 2: Echoes multiplayer, is one of the most interesting E3 demos on display.
Battle Mii pits a team of two players looking at the TV against a third using the Wii U controller. The demo is humorously themed after the Metroid franchise. The two players using the TV and Wii Remote and Nunchuk are on-foot space cadets armed with a gun (which can be charged to lob a missile), and their opponent flies Samus Aran’s gunship with the Wii U controller. The demo starts off with some target practice to familiarize players with their controls, and then the battle begins. The pilot must gun down both soldiers (three hits each); the soldiers must shoot down the ship (5 hits).
When playing as the pilot, you steer the ship forward, backwards, and side-to-side with the left circle pad, and adjust the ship’s elevation with the right circle pad. You aim by moving the controller/screen around (up down, left, right), similar to an Augmented Reality games on Nintendo 3DS. The controls felt a tad over-complex (like tapping your head and rubbing your belly while driving), but did a good job of showing off the variety and depth of control the controller can provide. Flying lower allowed for better cover, and one I got somewhat acclimated, I was able to weave around buildings and stealthily sneak up on my enemies.
Of course, unlike the Star Fox 64 multiplayer mode, the soldiers on foot are capable fighters. Fighters can shoot their gun rapidly or charge a shot to lob a bomb. Aiming and moving is intuitive with the analog stick and remote pointer, and a flick of the remote causes your character to leap out of the way quickly, which is useful for taking cover. You can also switch into morph ball form to make yourself a smaller target, though the characters didn’t seem any more agile, and you obviously cannot fire your gun in this mode. You can also jump into a transporter that brings you to the top of a tower, which leaves you vulnerable but gives you a birds-eye view of the arena so that you can spot your enemy (and communicate their location to your partner).
The demo was simple fun, but certainly shows how the Wii U can be used for competitive, asynchronous multiplayer experiences. There’s enough meat in this mode for it to be fleshed out and included in a future mini-game package like Wii Sports or Wii Play, or as a supplementary multiplayer mode (e.g. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Star Fox 64). I hope it will be.