Of course the GamePad player doesn't need to look at the TV at all thanks to the onboard screen, and so begins a game of chase where you attempt to round up the candy thieves, as the GamePad's screen zooms in and out depending on how far apart your guards are. It's what Nintendo has dubbed "asymmetric gameplay" and in the hands of its creators at least it leaves everyone involved in the demo with a big grin on their faces.
Similar examples are present in Luigi's Ghost Mansion – where the GamePad player controls a ghost invisible to other players – and in a downright cool technology demo called Wii U Panorama View which takes players on a voyeuristic open top bus tour of London, or drops them into the Rio Carnival.
The trick here is, where those watching the TV only see the event from a fixed perspective, the GamePad user can freely look around in 360 degrees with the camera tracking the movement – just watch out for the stat tracker at the end – which didn't suggest I'd spent the bulk of my time surveying a lovely lady's attractive posterior (honest).
Ubisoft's ZombieU uses a similar premise. The pad's screen lets you look around your environment, creating something approaching tension, possibly mixed with frustration, as your eyes shift from the small screen of the handset to your TV to get an overall picture of what's going on.
For all these curiosities and interesting features there are of course areas of concern. My chief gripe is that Nintendo hasn't unveiled a game which truly pushes the as-yet-unannounced horsepower of its machine (something they've arguably not done since Mario 64 shipped). Secondly, my questions about whether Nintendo Land will be able to usher in online friends too were met with 'no comment' responses. And thirdly, most importantly: what does it cost?
Pricing of such a device will always be a major issue among consumers ever conscious of their dwindling income and Nintendo needs to be wary of that. Speculation was rife at the show, with figures of anything from £200 to £400 being bandied about – all heard from a 'friend of a friend'.
Whatever the truth, if I was Nintendo I'd be looking to price my bold new console at reasonable Christmas present levels with the 'holiday season' conveniently pitched as the likely release window. There's no doubting that Wii U's new gameplay types are a lot of fun for gamers, and I'm convinced my mum will love it too, but whether it carries that same zeitgeist that the Wii's Wii Sports and motion controls combo once carried remains to be seen.
After all, there are currently a lot of Wiis gathering dust in TV stands cupboards around the world and even after this year's E3 there remains a host of unanswered questions. ®
I see a great potential for the tablet style controller, if they use it right... My first thought was good old fashioned RPGs. It used to be a PITA to switch to your inventory, map, spellbook, etc... Now you can have all of that on the tablet and keep the gameplay on the screen... Think of Fallout 3 with your pip-boy on the controller all the time...
Also possible are social multiplayer games that couldn't previously be done on a console.. Like Texas-Holdem... I think it's kinda pointless on a console, but none-the-less you could have your hand on the controller and the community cards on the TV.... Now a creative sort could come up with all sorts of fun games where there is a private element and a shared public element like this that could take advantage of the tablet.
It'll still never appeal to hardcore gamers... and so what? The market is casual gamers like myself who love to play simple mario mini games with friends and family and have never 'fragged' anything in my life... The truth is, we outnumber the gamers in the big wide world and make Nintendo a lot of money, which is the objective of business.
Hmm, exactly the same criticism levelled at the original Wii: "OMFG everyone else has HD graphics, this thing's dead".
Then it pwned the market, leaving Sony and MS looking rather puzzled to find that gameplay actually trumps eyecandy.
The mass market for consoles is those bought for kids to have fun with rather than serious gamers to count pixels on. Who knew?
100m sales tell me that you're in the minority with your opinion and, even despite that, who cares? You don't like it? Don't buy it. I don't come on here and troll every Sony review, for instance, because I don't like them, I just don't buy one.
There's a lot you can do with the second screen but without games already using both screens you wouldn't really know. Hell, it's not hard to imagine an FPS or RPG where your inventory is kept private so you can compete against others in the same room without them knowing what you're about to throw at them. The second-screen worked quite well on the DS, for instance. And seriously, pressing a button to have your character pack the shotgun into your backpack and pull out and load a pistol doesn't break your "immersion"? You're a gamer, through and through.
Nintendo are building consoles NOT FOR YOU. So don't buy them. Meanwhile the 100m (at least) of us who have a Wii in the house will probably be looking at the next version just to play a silly party game once a year with friends (hell, that's the only reason I have a Wii, it's the only physical console of "this" generation that I own, and I've been gaming since the Spectrum).
Not everything is about pixel-perfect shooters. In fact, I can name at least four people in my family who don't play games on anything but the Wii because, and I quote one of them, "all those other games are too fast and need me to do stuff too quickly and I like to look around and work things out rather than have to jump perfectly in a split-second all the time". Sounds like some of us can have fun with the Wii or Wii U, then, and that - after everything is said and done - is all that matters to anyone with a games console.
Hell, I'd probably end up with one when they got to a sensible price just for the semi-annual Christmas / birthday gatherings where friends come over and we end up playing Wii Bowling. This from someone who, personally, has poured 50 hours into the CS:GO beta and considers that merely "casual" gaming for myself.
In Nintendo's defense, they did the N64 with marketing focused on being the most powerful console on the market, and it got beat by the competition (I wouldn't call it a failure, they still seemed to sell well).
Then there was the Gamecube, which again I believe was fairly powerful. It certainly seemed powerful compared to the PS2. Same thing.
Then there was the Wii, underpowered, focused on gameplay, not power, and it sold more than the competition, and they made profit on the units when their rivals were making a loss..
That is all anecdotal and from the top of my head, not checked or researched, but I believe it to be a fair description of the last three generations.
So if you were Nintendo and about to release a new console, what would you do? I know what I would be selling and it wouldn't be cutting edge.
I honestly can't wait
It's probably the most innovative control system I've ever seen to jump about collecting coins.