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So last night I got invited to the WiiU experience they were running in Austin. I had some extra invites, but most of my buddies were out of town, so instead I had my mom come with me because I know how much she enjoyed the Wii. The event was at La Zona Rosa, a place I’ve seen many concerts, so it seemed like a weird venue, but they did a great set up. There were tons of games to demo on the new platform. Here’s a list of all the ones I can remember seeing:
After the jump I’ll talk about the games I played. The first thing I tried was the New Super Mario Bros. They had 2 stations set up with this, and I played it twice. The 1st was in a contest for two players to speed run a level, one running with the Wiimote, the other using the gamepad to assist. This is actually a pretty cool mechanic. Using the gamepad’s touchscreen, that player can create blocks for you to jump on and even kill or force some enemies to move. My mom and I put a decent time up, but we were 3 seconds behind the current leader so we didn’t stick around to watch more since the even only lasted 1:45. Later I played with 5 people, one on the game pad and the other 4 of us controlling. If you played the Wii Mario game, you know exactly what you are getting. Tons of fun.
Nintendoland is going to be WiiU’s version of Wii Sports it seems. This is a collection of mini games and I got to try several throughout the event. One was the Donkey Kong Crash course. This has you focusing on the gamepad’s screen as you tilt the controller to move a cart throughout a giant level of rails. I died…a lot. It was very fun, but tricky to get a hang of the speed needed to make certain jumps and not splatter against a wall.
Next was Luigi’s mansion. This was a 5 player agme that was almost a reverse version of Pac-man. The 4 Wii-mote players watch the tv and move around the maze, trying to hit an invisible ghost w/ a flashlight. The Gamepad player can see his ghost on the gamepad’s screen and tries to sneak around and capture each of the 4 players. On catching a player, the ghost is visible for a short period of time. I played as the ghost and made quick work of the 4 randos I played. This was really fun.
Next was a ninjastar game that didn’t work worth a damn. I’m chalking it to a gamepad screen that had been used by tons of people throughout the day, but there were tons of control responsiveness problems with this one. The last one I played was an Animal Crossing candy game. This was similar in logic to the Luigi’s mansion with the Gamepad player trying to capture the wiimote players. This was also fun, and had more of a teamwork component to it, which didn’t work too well with randos. I also saw people playing a Zelda branded minigame, but didn’t get a chance to try it. These were the only ones being shown, but the full game looked to have 15 total minigames from the menu.
Next up was Zombii U, this was the game I wanted to try the most and it did not disappoint. This is played on the Gamepad, and has you switching from the tv to the pad screen frequently. The game is set up as a persistent action game, to where whenever your player dies, he becomes a zombie. To regain all the gear you had gotten to that point, you have to find and kill the character you just were. Pretty cool idea. The one thing that was strange about this was the shoulder buttons. there are 4 shoulder buttons on the gamepad that fit very comfortably. What’s strange is it doesn’t seem that all games agree on which should be the primary versions, the top shoulder buttons (L and R) or the lower ones where your middle fingers are (named ZR and ZL). This led to a little confusion during play. What was funny is you only got to play one life. Watching the guy before me, he lasted about 8 minutes, only saw 3 zombies during his play. I thought that was pretty strange. Yet when I took the controls, I had 5 come at me at once in the first 3 minutes. The game can definitely scare you. I wish I had more time with this one. They were also showing off a 2 player vs mode. In this one person played as a player whlie the other was the “zombie king” the goal was to capture 4 flags. From what I could gather, the zombie king could spawn a certain amount of zombies at once to try and kill the player. If the player died, I think 4 times, the game was lost. It looked really fun.
I also tried a short bit of Ninja Gaiden right before the event ended. I honestly didn’t enjoy this much at all. The graphics were great, but the controls were just a mess. The last game I tried was Project P-100. This was made by some heavy hitters in the game world, including the guys that did Viewtiful Joe. You could definitely see that influence in the art style. This game was just nuts. Sadly I didn’t get much of an intro as to what I was doing. There were several on-screen hints as to controls, but I messed up many times. The right side of the game pad has a-b-x-y buttons in a diamond just like the 360 controller. The only problem is they aren’t in the same spots as they are on the 360. So as I’m reading push Y to do something, I’m hitting what I know of as Y, but it’s not, I’m really hitting X. Oops. That could take some getting used to. I didn’t get much time with this, but would love to get more time with this one to try and get a better understanding of the game.
I had an absolute blast at the event. Nintendo had a great set up at the event and the folks working it were all very nice and helpful. If you happen to get invited to an event like this, you have to find a way to go. I know they did one in Chicago, which Terrence did a great breakdown of here. He’s by far the best follow I can point you towards for Nintendo thoughts on here, and he’s also just a cool dude, so hit up his page. I can’t thank Nintendo enough for the invite. This was an absolute blast and definitely is making me think more about getting a WiiU when it comes out. Now if only I knew how much. The only thing they should’ve done from a business perspective is take pre-orders at the event. As we were leaving my Mom told me if they had, she’d have bought one there. I know since there’s no price/release date officially announced yet they can’t, but I think they may lose out on some impulse buys. Either way, I’m hoping this comes in at $250. If it does, I’m getting it, no brainer. $300-$350 I might be waiting awhile. Either way, a blast. If you wanna ask me questions for more thoughts about any of the games I saw/played, feel free.