The Wii U is impressive. I feel bad for anyone who lacks the vision of what the Wii U has the potential to do and what E3 showed off it can do. I don’t mean to offend, but as an aspiring game designer, the more tools the Big 3 give us to play with, the more excited I get.
Anyways, so what did we see that the Wii U can do. Well, the console itself has the Miiverse, where players can leave messages for each other to give hints or comment about how difficult a level is. This leads to alot of potential for new game experiences.
What about the controller itself? Well, it has gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnometers, a touch screen, and a wireless thing reader. It’s pretty amazing and while some people might not be satisfied enough with real-time inventories or Nintendo Land, but to me, that’s just the tip of the ice berg for what the Wii U can bring us, and I’m going to quickly ramble off a list of potential ways the Wii U can be used.
1) F-Zero with On the Fly Repairs
Some of my favorite racing games often have stamina as a factor that is just as important as going fast. Take F-Zero for example. In the Gamecube classic, F-Zero GX, if you took too much damage your car would break down and you would be out of the race. To replenish health, you would have to drive over certain strips of track. You’re boost was also tied directly to your energy, so basically you paid in health.
Now what I imagine is that the racing is made more realistic by having each part of the machine named and give it a function. Perhaps draft fins determined how well you machine could turn, while a cooling device would determine how much energy you used for boosting. Now imagine that you take realistic damage based on the impact area and that the Wii U controller was a way to not only analyze what is damaged, but also as a way to make repairs on the fly. Much like how R2-D2 how to lock down a loose stabilzer on Luke’s X-Wing, players could simply tap the game pad’s screen to start the repair process. This could also mean taking more damage would mean extra time to repair them all simply by forcing players to look at their touch screen, which would really up the importance of safe driving as well as fast and a more realistic spin on certain sci-fi based racing games.
2) Enemies Invading the Real World
Okay, have you ever played Eternal Darkness? I only got through a bit, but holy crap was it awesome and even years after the game came out, the interface screws managed to get every single one of my friends (even the fake blue screen, which I knew ahead of time). Either way, interface screws are cool and a great way blur the line between the game world and the real world.
So while the one camera on the controller would stop any AR use, the panorama view of the controller unlocks the even scarier potential. So imagine, you’re playing this game and suddenly they game says “the monsters are escaping into the real world” so you have to use the controller to look around and find them. Now, the controller doesn’t have a rear camera to use AR, but it can be like a scanner. Instead of being able to show you an image of your living room and place monsters on it, it can just be a black screen that reads like a thermal reading of the monsters, which could heighten the illusion that they’re invisible. Now, a clever game would be able to use something like this in a meaningful, non-terribly gimmicky way, but I’m sure it’s possible.
Also, this could be use for Pokemon Snap 2….just sayin’
3) Widow Maker Turret
In a similar vein to the last one, remote controlled turrets. Conduit 2 ended up being one of my favorite shooters this generation (I mention it a lot when talking about innovation), and one of my favorite weapons in the game was the widow maker turret. By placing it down you could fire it to have it auto fire at the closest enemy (unless you had the auto-turret perk which fired for you) or go into a view finder mode to aim in manually. This was great for taking out snipers (since it was super precise) without risking your own life and even for flanking an enemy.
Now, while it may be hard for some I would totally love it and use it all the time, but imagine the ability to set down the remote turret and have it show up on the bottom screen. Then you could play normally on the top screen while controlling the turret on the bottom screen. It makes the turret both a hard weapon to use, but could potentially be double rewarding.
4) A Mech-Piloting Game
You know what’s cool? Steel Battalion. You get a lot of options because they either use their own custom controller to give players a realistic experience or kinect to streamline that whole experience. Now while using the Wii U gamepad and Wii remote, you might not have the same exact experience, but you can definitely have something rather cool with using Wii remote to pilot your mech, kind of like in Sky Crawlers, while the game pad can be used to change through a long list of weapons with ease, manage power output, communicate to others, etc. I mean, I think it would be a case where the immersive experience would justify some odd design choices because of the new tech available to you.
5) Battlefield Commander
One of the coolest things in Battlefield 2142 was that one player was a commander. But aside from giving orders that were dumb or spotting enemies constantly (which would repeat a sound clip over and over again), the commander didn’t play a vital role other than basically doing special things requested by squad leaders. Still the idea is a cool and letting a player organize a large, mostly uncoordinated effort is a really cool thing.
So what could the Wii U offer players that would enhance the experience. Well, aside from the built in chat for the controller that would make squads and commanders function better, but also the touch screen could allow a commander to not only play in stand first person, but get a full view of the battlefield and be able to plot more complex paths for squads to take, kind of like setting waypoints to get them to an objective without running into enemies obviously waiting there.
So that’s 5 ways, based off what I saw at E3, the Wii U controller could be used. I have high hopes for the console, since everything we saw there was pretty darn awesome and I can just tell from people who have worked with the Wii U, that game designers are just filled with ideas on how to turn this goofy idea into another gaming revolution.