Ben Keith / Lantern photographer
Nintendo’s fall lineup is championed by the Wii U, a console scheduled to release Nov. 18.
The Lantern had the opportunity to play the pre-production Wii U console Friday in Nintendo’s Mario-themed Airstream trailer.
A difference between the Wii U and its predecessor, the Wii, is the controller. The Wii U comes with a touchscreen device called the GamePad.
In addition to the two joysticks, d-pad, the usual array of buttons, shoulder buttons, triggers and accelerometers, which tell the device which way is up, the 1.1-pound GamePad comes with a 6.2-inch touch screen.
The demonstration game “NintendoLand” shows off the GamePad in 12 mini-games. A “Legend of Zelda” multiplayer mini-game has one player use the GamePad to shoot enemies with a bow, while two other players’ characters walk ahead and use standard Wii controllers for enemy-killing swordplay.
Single-player minigame “Takamaru’s Ninja Castle” uses the GamePad to fling paper ninja stars at paper ninjas, and “Donkey Kong’s Crash Course” has the player tilt the GamePad to navigate the character through a maze while others spectate on the TV screen. “NintendoLand” takes the place of “Wii Sports” on the original Wii - it serves to demonstrate the capabilities of the Wii U’s controller.
“They have a good launch lineup, a lot of hardcore games like ‘Assassin’s Creed III,’ ‘ZombiU, Super Mario Bros.,’ ‘Batman,'” said Brian Orchosky, president of Ohio State’s Game Creation Club and fourth-year in computer and information sciences.
The Wii U will have 23 titles available when it launches, including in-house games, or games produced by Nintendo, and third-party titles, or games produced by studios other than Nintendo, from major developers. Scheduled to accompany the release of “NintendoLand,” are Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed III,” “Ninja Gaiden 3,” “ZombiU,” “New Super Mario Bros. U” and “Tekken Tag Tournament 2.”
“A lot of people say that it’s not going to have many games coming out, but in reality, it’s good,” said Taiwan Jackson, a first-year in political science, who attended GameStop’s midnight release party for the latest games in the Pokemon series, “Pokemon Black Version 2” and “Pokemon White Version 2.” “ZombiU looked really cool,” Jackson said.
“ZombiU” is a first-person survival shooter game, set in zombie-apocalypse London. The player navigates the world using the GamePad like any other controller, but can use the GamePad’s screen to scan for vital items, to pick locks and to manage inventory in their backpack, all while using the TV screen to keep watch for nearby zombies. If the player’s character dies, the player starts a new character that has to recover inventory from the now-zombified previous character.
The GamePad has TV remote functionality, but the Wii U’s main draw seems to be the entertainment console functionality brought by the TVii app.
TVii allows users to search Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and local TV to schedule DVR recordings and view second-screen content, or information about shows, while watching.
“Especially if people have Hulu, Netflix accounts, it’s a great way to integrate normal TV with Internet TV,” Orchosky said, adding he’s not sold on it though. “I can get Netflix and Hulu on my PC, so I don’t really see a need for that.”
Nintendo appears to be aware of potential buyers’ unwillingness to buy functions they don’t need – the Wii U comes with no Wii Remotes.
“You can buy (Wii Remote Pluses) separately,” said Ken Jager of Team Nintendo, Nintendo’s promotional unit.. “If you have a Wii Remote, go ahead and use it on your Wii U. We’re not making consumers buy something they already have.”
Consumers won’t have the option or the need to buy a second GamePad in the near future.
“The console will eventually support two GamePads,” Jager said. “But right now the content released will only support one GamePad, so we haven’t announced any plans about selling additional GamePads.”
The basic Wii U comes in white with 8 GB of internal storage and one GamePad for $299.99. For $349.99, buyers can get the black model of the Wii U with 32 GB of internal storage, a black GamePad, and “NintendoLand.” Wii U launches Nov. 18 in North America with support for HD video, Wii games and Nintendo’s eShop game store.