At Eb Expo this weekend I had a chance to play Nintendo’s upcoming game console, the Wii U. Like the Wii, Nintendo is trying to change the way we interact and engage when using consoles.
The major addition in the Wii U, is the new Wii U controller. The controller is quite large containing a large amount of tech, the most obvious being the 6.2” touch screen. The addition of this screen on the controller is meant to change but also add to the way we play games today.
During my hands on I got to play a couple of Nintendo’s titles part of Nintendo land, Luigi’s Ghost Mansion and Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, these games showed off the most interesting potential for the Wii U controller. During the demo we had five people playing, four people using the standard Wii Controllers and one person using the Wii U Controller. In both games the players using the Wii controllers had to work as a team while the player using the Wii U controller had to stop us from reaching our goal. Now the reason this was interesting is that the four players using the Wii controllers had a four way split on the TV while the player using the Wii U controller used the screen on the controller. This way the player using the Wii U controller couldn’t see what the players using the Wii Controllers were doing and vice versa.
The Wii U controller also adds features when you’re playing by yourself, but this is when it starts to fall apart. The couple demos I watched the screen didn’t seem to help all that much. For example, on a traditional console if you wanted to view your inventory or a map you would push a button and your TV would be taken up by your inventory or a map, on the Wii U, these would show up on your controller, and while that sounds cool in practice it’s a bit clunky but it could be something you could learn over an extended play. Also the Wii U console only supports one Wii U controller at a time.
While the Wii U is innovative, I don’t think it’s what the market wants. The Wii U for an eighth generation console still falls short of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in graphics performance and with larger TV’s dropping in price, consumers want high quality graphics to fill them with. Support for only one Wii U controller it also feels like a miss opportunity. Like the Wii, it will be interesting to see how Nintendo develops the console going forward.