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Wii U Hands On Preview

Wii U

Last week, Nintendo unveiled the successor to Wii, dubbed the Wii U. There were no confirmed first party games playable for the new console this year; instead, Nintendo showcased a series of interactive proof of concept demos. As Wii U was one of this year's biggest reveals, lines to try the new hardware were substantial - anywhere from 3 to 5 hours, depending on the time of day! We braved the lines at Nintendo's booth, and had the opportunity to try all 8 of the playable demos on display for the console. Read on for wrap ups of every Wii U demo Nintendo had to offer this year.

At its core, the Wii U has two distinguishing features from the onset - the graphical muscle to output full 1080p, 60 frames per second visuals, and an innovative new controller, rebuilt from the ground up. For the first time ever in a home gaming console, a 6.2" touchscreen is the central focus of the controller's design. Boasting a front facing camera, dual analog sticks, dual left and right triggers, a gyroscope, a speaker, and an accelerometer, the new controller is an interesting - and potentially risky design choice for Nintendo.

On display for the Wii U were a series of playable demos, which, with the exception of Ubisoft's Ghost Recon: Online may not be indicative of actual, in development games. We played each of the demos on display - a full list of what was shown, as well as our thoughts on what we saw follows below.


HD Experience

(Zelda) HD Experience

Ever wondered what The Legend of Zelda would look like in full 1080p HD? This (mostly) non-interactive demo provided a tantalizing glimpse of what the future may hold for the franchise. Featuring a familiar foe, multiple dynamic lighting sources, and the ability to swap the images on the TV and controller on the fly, even in this proof of concept state, the HD Experience demo is enough to get fans of The Legend of Zelda franchise salivating.

Shield Pose

Shield Pose

Shield Pose is a quirky little prototype of a rhythm game, featuring eye catching cel-shaded visuals, pirates, and a unique control scheme. Leveraging the full set of capabilities of the Wii U's touchscreen based controller, the player is tasked to use it as a shield, to block arrows as they are fired. Using the controller's built in gyroscope and accelerometer, it essentially acts as a viewfinder. A brief tutorial was provided to detail play mechanics - move the controller to locations designated left, right, center, or over, as indicated. Once the player was given a feel for the controls, the required actions got progressively faster, and set to music. Ultimately, the goal was revealed to match the positions in sequence, to a beat, along with a dance like shake motion. In our opinion, Shield Pose seemed a little complex for a supposed tech demo. Could this be an early precursor to a possible Wii U entry in the Rhythm Heaven franchise?

Chase Mii

Chase Mii

Equal measures simplistic and fun, Chase Mii plays like a game of Mario Tag. One player has the Wii U controller and is given a 15 second head start to run and hide. On the Wii U controller's screen, they have two views - one of their current location in the play area, and another map that indicates where the other players are. The goal of the game is for the player with the Wii U Controller to avoid getting caught for a full two and a half minutes, while the goal of the other 3 players, all with wii remotes is to find, chase, and ultimately catch the one running away. While the players with the wii remotes are not given a direct map to the runner's location, they do have a meter that indicates the distance between them and the runner.

Battle Mii

Battle Mii

Battle Mii is another game specifically designed to utilize the Wii U controller's screen. In this cartoony looking shooter, players on the ground (dressed in Metroid inspired gear) are tasked with taking down a ship trying to destroy them, and vice-versa. As with Chase Mii before it, one player controls the spaceship via the Wii U Controller, complete with their own separate viewpoint unique to that screen, while the others assume control via wii remotes. The environment, as one would expect, is rife with various consumables and powerups, that may be used by both the ground and space players. As ground players may have a bit of a "strength in numbers" advantage, the blasters on the spaceship, to keep gameplay balanced, are more powerful than their ground based counterparts. Don't be surprised if this game, along with Chase Mii surfaces in a future Wii U pack-in title.

Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

A non-interactive tech demo, displaying a number of scenes from a Japanese Garden. Designed solely to showcase the Wii U's graphical capabilities, it featured absolutely stunning visuals, all presumably being rendered in real time.

Measure Up

Measure Up

Measure Up is a series of measurement based puzzles, that utilize the Wii U controller as a drawing tablet. Featuring 5 stages, with both single player and head to head modes, the object is simple - to successfully draw the specified shape or figure within the prescribed measurements. Players are scored based on composition (how well the shape is drawn) and accuracy. Admittedly, a basic premise, but one that works well with the Wii U controller.

New Super Mario Bros. Mii

New Super Mario Bros. Mii

By far, the most substantial of all of the Wii U demos, New Super Mario Bros. Mii featured a full 5 courses, all designed with classic 2d platforming in mind. Visually and functionally similar to New Super Mario Bros. Wii the demo featured the unique ability to, in lieu of playing as one of the standard Nintendo characters, play as a Mii. Although as of this writing the demo is designated solely as a proof of concept, we believe the level of polish, as well as the amount of content in the demo may suggest otherwise. Closer to the Wii U's launch next year, expect an announcement that New Super Mario Bros. Mii is being developed as a full retail title.

Ghost Recon: Online

Ghost Recon: Online

Despite being the only announced title of the Wii U demos, Ghost Recon: Online remains the one with the smallest amount of available information. The brief prototype shown focused on the ability to use the Wii U controller's screen as an interactive map, giving players the ability to place a context sensitive "smart beacon" anywhere on the main screen, on the fly. Additionally, a prototype drone option was shown, acting as a threat detector, to identify enemies that may have otherwise been left unseen to the player. According to Samrat Sharma, Ghost Recon: Online's Creative Director, the Wii U version will be download only, like its PC counterpart, but is not a direct port. Sharma was uncertain as to whether the Wii U version will use the free to play pricing model (like GR:O PC will), stating that Ubisoft and Nintendo were still in negotiations regarding possible pricing.


The Wii U is slated to launch sometime next year. GameSplash will keep you updated on all of the latest news and information on the forthcoming console as it becomes available.

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