VIDEO: How The Wii U Managed To Surprise Us

VIDEO: How The Wii U Managed To Surprise Us

Nintendo doesn’t want you to call it a tablet — it’s a ‘GamePad’ — but the Wii U’s new controller feels way more comfortable, and user friendly, than you expect. It shouldn’t feel surprising, but it does. The GamePad doesn’t slip into your hand like a regular controller, but it’s no less accessible for that. It sits in your hand like it was designed to sit there. Quite an achievement considering how large and unwieldy a device of its size should be.

But this is Nintendo after all, and it’s made a habit of creating ergonomic efficient controllers. Even at their strangest — with the N64 and the GameCube — Nintendo has managed to create devices that somehow manage to delicately slide into position and stay there. Only Nintendo could make a seven inch tablet feel like a control pad.

Our hands on with the Wii U was a series of surprises. You might even say we were surprised to surprised.

For example — we came prepared to see New Super Mario Bros. U run in HD, and we were prepared to be dazzled, but seeing a 2D Mario in HD for the first time is quite an experience. It’s a universe you expect less detail from. When you get that detail? It’s actually quite disarming.

Predictably, I loved my time with New Super Mario Bros. U, it feels like a tightly designed homage to Super Mario World, and that’s just fine by me. Transferring to and from the GamePad is just as seamless as Nintendo wants you to believe it is, and there’s actually more to playing along with the GamePad than creating platforms for the main player. Nintendo has done a great job of making New Super Mario Bros. U interactive through touch.

Another surprise was ZombiU — a game I expected to fall instantly in love with. After a short hands-on it feels like it may be more of a slow burn. I actually found the game quite tricky to control — the massive gap between the two analogue sticks takes a lot of getting used to.

That said, ZombiU is overflowing with unique game concepts. Using the controller as a scanner in order to find secrets and clues was my particular favourite. Ultimately, ZombiU isn’t the best game to try and play for five minutes inside a game convention.

Nintendoland is a series of mini-games. We expected that — but we were surprised by how vibrant and accessible each game was, and how well they integrate between the screen and the GamePad. Much has been written about ‘asymmetric’ gaming, but it’s a difficult concept to imagine, or describe. I like to think of it as a complex game of hide and seek. Nintendo uses the GamePad to intelligently design gaming experiences where one set of people have certain advantages over the other. Multiplayer games nowadays typically pit players against one another on a level playing field — that’s balanced. Nintendo land is packed with exeriences that completely subvert that concept of multiplayer, and I found that refreshing.

The Luigi’s Mansion mini game is a great example of this. The player with the GamePad plays an invisible ghost, hunting down other players using Wii Remotes. On the television, the ghost is invisible. On the GamePad you can see your self, hunting down other players. The only way your four opponents can sense your presence is through vibrations and communication between other players. It’s a really delicate, different experience, and I loved it.


  • i have to agree with the ZombieU comment… i got about 5 minutes with it at EB Expo myself and it wasn’t enough… the movement felt a lil slow for me… but my god is it intense… after initially shrugging off the wii u i’m now a little tempted… mario looks fantastic (though i’m sure apart from graphics its the same game we’ve been playing for years)

  • Love it how you guys post this video, yet love to bag EB Games, yet you filmed this at the EB expo on the weekend… Just saying…

      • My comment was in general. It doesn’t take long to find anti EB games comments on the site, and one of the staff is a former employee. You would think they would report on what was the largest gaming expo in Australia, but so far they haven’t…. Just an observation from myself, sorry if I’m wrong.

  • Is the positioning of the sticks going to make fps games crap? Or is it just going to take time for players to adjust? Please elaborate if you can.

    • I just don’t know. At the moment I feel as though it’ll just be a case of adjusting. It reminds me of the first time I picked up the Duke Xbox controller. I eventually got used to it, but for a while it felt clumsy.

      The Nintendo rep said it took a bit of getting used to, but he would say that. I don’t think it’s ideal, but it’s far from a a game breaker.

  • “It’s like Naruto, man” hahah. Oh, Mark.

    Great video! I told myself I wasn’t going to get a WiiU at launch, but it’s getting mighty difficult!

    • Do it! This system is going to surprise a few people I think. The more first hand opinions I hear, the more positive the feedback gets 🙂

      • Oh I’ll definitely get one eventually, I just thought I would try and save some money by waiting until next year. All of these hands on videos just make it that much harder to keep my wallet shut! haha


      …won’t be there at launch but… yeah…

      Guess there’s no real reason for me to buy one at launch either but we’ll see how we both hold up with all the Hype and Marketing 😛

  • I think we have an winner. The WiiU is lookin great now that it’s in the wild and not just PR videos. Just wish there was some more core games.

  • Actually looks pretty interesting, thought most of the fancy controls look like they might end up gimmicks. The Wii controller was super fancy and special when it was made, but I got tired of having to wave it around all the time. For example, flicking the ninja stars, that’s clearly just a gimmick even if they tech is kind of cool.
    While the touchscreen seems handy, it’s all just pretty much more screen real estate. Does it make difference that your inventory is in your hand instead of on the screen?


    Took me 45 mins to get in that demo section on E2! xD But yeah 5 Mins for ZombieU really just wasn’t long enough. The controls took a while to get used to.. and 5 mins was too short xD

  • Still find it amazing that people actually play inverted.

    Outside of flight simulators, and flight games in general, inverted is ridiculous.

    Up -> Look up.

    It’s called basic logic.

    • The way I hold the controller, forward = look down. Because I tilt my head forward when I look down and vice versa, so this makes more sense to me. Of course if you hold the controller differently it may be different for you.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!