With the Wii U’s launch date creeping ever closer and Nintendo being…well, Nintendo, many gamers are still wondering what exactly their new, heavily hyped GamePad can or will do. Having recently played with one myself, I have to say there are some pretty interesting possibilities for Nintendo and other developers if they choose the right types of games to utilize it.
With the Wii U having three possible controller options, that being the classic Wiimote and Nunchuck combination and the new GamePad and Pro Controller, Nintendo needs to be careful about how they controller use for each game.
Luckily for the Big N, having a second screen and control surface isn’t virgin territory. The successful DS line of systems has been around for eight years, giving Nintendo time to figure out what type of touch-controlled games are fun, and the recent 3DS has allowed them to test controls for screens that don’t match perfectly.
And hopefully, this amount of testing will lead to great results, as the GamePad is set up to deliver some great gameplay experiences if utilized properly.
First, and most obviously, a perfect fit for the controller are games that use some sort of camera mechanic. Imagine a free roaming sequel to Pokémon Snap using the Wii U’s new controls, making the GamePad your camera and using the touchscreen to edit photos. Fatal Frame would be great allowing you to see ghosts on the touchscreen that you otherwise couldn’t, creating suspense and a chilling interactive atmosphere.
Another type of game that would compliment the GamePad well are racing games. It may sound strange but there is room for cool innovations in the otherwise tired genre. In titles like Mario Kart, the GamePad would function as a steering wheel and the touchscreen would be your rear view mirror, allowing you to precisely target opponents behind you and use power ups on them. More realistic racing simulators, on the other hand, could use the touchscreen as their in-car radio or view real time performance specs on their car right on the touch screen.
Role playing games or games heavy on inventory management have a great chance to thrive on the system as well, just as they have been on the DS for years now.
The time it would take to swap armor or items becomes almost nonexistent as your inventory would be displayed and equipped on the touchscreen instead of having to navigate tedious in-game menus, making the game faster and more fun. World maps would also find a new home on the GamePad, turning tedious map-checking into simple tap travel.
An even faster version of this will be a crucial part of the survival horror Wii U launch title ZombieU, which forces players to use the touch screen for their inventory changes while removing the ability to pause and switch items, creating greater anxiety and tension. Developers will be able to change how it operates from game-to-game, which should create some interesting new types of inventory systems that match each title perfectly.
Things get interesting when we start to think about multiplayer, especially seeing as most people will be using a Wiimote as their second controller. Nintendo has already shown that the player with the GamePad will be able to do things like alter the environment so other players can safely traverse a level. Imagine picking your co-op buddy up with the touchscreen to carry him over a pit of fire or picking of enemies in front of your partner as they make a mad dash to the end of a level.
The GamePad user could also be able to tap out-of-reach collectibles and power-ups that other players can’t. And, thanks to the improved online functions and built-in camera, players will be able to cooperate with their teammates easily and both celebrate their successes and relish in their failures, possibly replicating the “living room party” experience Nintendo likes to push.
Puzzle games (or any game with puzzles in them) may become more enjoyable and popular on consoles with the new touch controls the GamePad offers. Repetitive quick-time and contextual events such as lock picking or computer hacking mini games can now be more interactive and lifelike. Games like Tetris and Meteos will become more fluid, speedy, and intuitive in the process, making the games easier to control and play.
The GamePad’s touch screen can also add more realism to doing things like reading books and other literature in games, making it feel like your actually holding a book and turning pages further immersing the player in its world. Imagine having something like that to read the literature in Elder Scrolls games, or being able to examine landmarks in Assassin’s Creed.
The new controller also has the ability to bring new depth to first person shooters. The GamePad’s touchscreen can be held up to act as a scope on a rifle, for example. Airstrikes could be called in instantly using a tapable map on the controller.
Players could diffuse bombs or coordinate missile launches using the touchscreen. It would be great to sees trauma center-like mechanics added to a shooter that would involve using the touchscreen to heal and suture bullet wounds, adding new dynamics to stale franchises like Call of Duty.
Sports fans will also be getting some love, with the GamePad putting play calling and player stats literally at your fingers, giving players the ability to call, change, and even create custom plays right on the controller. Maneuvers like passing can also be simplified for less experienced players, allowing them to simply tap what receiver you want to pass to.
Nintendo may have a tricky road ahead of them with its innovative new GamePad, but the hardware is there and great things are possible. The biggest mistake the Big N can make now is not pushing itself and other developers to utilize its new features while remaining fun at the same time. Hopefully, though, system adopters will have a lot of great, innovative experiences ahead of them.
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