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EB Games Expo 2012: Wii U Play-Test

by Kerrie Hui and David Lobato, Reporters, and Jayden Leggett, Assistant Editor

Arguably the most exciting aspect of the show besides playing unreleased games would have to be playing an unreleased console, right? Which means that right now is probably a great time to talk about our experiences with the Wii U. If we had to narrow our impressions of the Wii U down into one word, it would be “teamwork”, as many of the titles we played heavily suggested multiple players.

Our first experience with this exciting device was with the launch title that comes as part of the optional console bundle package, NintendoLand, which is a collection of fun mini-games, the first of which we played was Animal Crossing: Sweet Day. In this, four players using the regular Wii Remotes took control of the animal characters who had to eat candy whilst avoiding being captured by their knife and fork wielding opponents. The more candy a player eats, the fatter their character gets, and the slower they moved. Thus teamwork is highly recommended as the Wii Remote players can share the loot amongst themselves, making them less slow and increasing their chances of survival.

What was really cool about this game was that the two “chasers” were controlled by the one player via the Wii U’s gamepad, using each stick to control each character independently of the other, and following their position on the gamepad’s touch screen. Playing as the chasers was incredibly fun, and Jayden couldn’t help but laugh maniacally as he used his two minions to herd his remaining quarry into one corner of the map, leaving them no escape as he closed in for the kill… Mwa ha ha!

Mini-game number two for us was Luigi’s Ghost Mansion. Again another multiplayer experience, this time around the player with the Wii U gamepad takes control of a ghost, while the four players with the Wii Remotes each control a character armed with a flashlight. The ghost gets a head start to hide somewhere on the map, before the other characters get to search for and hopefully destroy the ghost by zapping it with their flashlights.

In this mode the ghost is invisible on the television, with it’s position known only by the gamepad holder as shown via its touch screen. Thus the four Wii Remote players have to rely on vibrations from their controllers that indicate how close the ghost is to their position.

This mode was a lot of fun, particularly for the ghost player as they were able to sneak up on an unsuspecting human, grabbing them and temporarily revealing their location to the other players before turning invisible once again and sneaking off to another section of the map. Zapping the ghost as a human player also leaves you feeling super-awesome for overcoming your foe’s supernatural advantages.

In keeping with the theme of teamwork, the next game we got our hands on was the Wii U exclusive Rayman Legends. Similar in style to the previous cross-platform Rayman Origins, up to four players can use the Wii Remotes to play the game in the familiar style of the prequel, running, jumping and punching their way to the finish of each level. In addition to this, another player using the gamepad’s touch screen interface is responsible for interacting with the environment, lowering bridges, activating switches and so on. In fact, in this mode there were areas that could not be passed by the on-screen character unless the gamepad player had first cleared a path (whether this is different in single player is unknown to us).

Surprisingly enough, I had a blast playing this game, particularly in the sections that required me to sprint through the level to avoid a dangerous peril that was closing in behind me while Kerrie provided me with access to the path ahead. The fact that the graphics in this new console have been given a significant upgrade certainly added to my enjoyment, as the incredibly crisp visuals were a joy to experience and looked spectacular in full high-definition. The same can be said with the gamepad, its screen looks and feels great, and the touch sensitivity is spot on.

Before you dismiss this new console as being yet another affair that is dominated by family-friendly titles (read: for children), there are a number of great titles aimed at the older game player. We both had some hands-on time with the Wii U versions of Assassin’s Creed III and Batman: Arkham City – Armored Edition (stay tuned for more in-depth coverage on these two), but what I was really keen to get my hands on was the Wii U exclusive simply titled ZombieU.

This game was quite different to what I was expecting. Beginning in what appears to be a semi-destroyed Buckingham Palace, I began to explore around without any real sense of direction. Upon first sighting a zombie I was instructed to hold the left trigger down to ready my weapon before using the right trigger to attack (in a control scheme apparently paying tribute to that other zombie series, Resident Evil). My zombie opponent took a hell of a lot of punishment before finally kicking the bucket, and as I played on it became obvious that this game is going for a much more realistic and survival-orientated take on the zombie genre as opposed to the more over-the-top shenanigans of titles like Dead Rising. Some of the zombies spit deadly blood at you, while getting swarmed by a group of three could easily spell game over. I did manage to get my hands on a rifle in the hopes of evening the odds, but ammo was incredibly scarce.

Making use of the gamepad’s unique functions, looting corpses and searching through your inventory is all done in real time via the touch screen, and during play there is an interactive map that shows the location of nearby zombies. What I found to be the most interesting aspect of this game was that if you die, you re-spawn as another character and have to defeat the zombified version of your previous-self if you want to reclaim your swag. While my time with ZombieU was rather short, and the graphics were a tad on the drab and murky side, I did enjoy my time with the game and am interested in playing it some more.

Our time with the Wii U left us very impressed indeed, and unlike the gimmicky nature of the previous Wii, this console looks like it will be making a big splash when it does get released towards the end of the year. During the course of the expo we heard many a person proclaim that they had already pre-ordered their Wii U, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few ComicsOnline staff from down under did the same thing…

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About Jayden Leggett

Audio visual multimedia extraordinaire (at least in his own mind), Aussie Dave dragged Jayden into this glorious den of geek pop culture, and it's gonna take more than what you can offer to drag him away. Unless you bribe him with Ninja Turtles related merchandise... then all bets are off.

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