Once upon a bye, I received an invitation to an exclusive Wii U Preview Event held in Washington DC. The event was exclusive to those that received a special invite from Nintendo; an invitation given only to the coolest of people (which means I’m still trying to figure out how I got one). With my friend in tow, we were off to the Wii U Preview Event. While only a mere two hours in length, it certainly showcased a large amount of the Wii U’s future launch titles as well as give needy and yearning gamers a first look at the console itself.
Even though the main attractions of the event were the Wii U launch titles, Nintendo provided a decent amount of other items including pictures, several contests featuring about half the games that were there and even a Nintendo trivia contest at the finale. All in all, it was an incredibly fun time.
There were about a dozen games featured at the event, including New Super Mario Bros. U, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Nintendo Land, SiNG, Pikmin 3, Project P-100, Wii Fit U, Just Dance 4, Zombi U, Rayman Legends, and Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition. Given the small time frame, we were not able to get our hands on each and every game but that didn’t detour us from getting our hands on the ones that really piqued our interest.
First up was New Super Mario Bros U, while it was incredibly fun with four person co-op, it still felt like it was the exact same game as the Wii incarnation because there just wasn’t a large amount of new content or new features. It’s still the same old Mario side-scroller game but considering how much fun these are, it’s not a complete insult. Since another player is just as liable to cause a death as an enemy, look for New Super Mario Bros. U to cause just as many friends and marriages to split as the Wii incarnation did.
Right next to New Super Mario Bros U was Wii Fit U. The line for this was rather long, so I didn’t get a chance to play, however I was able to watch several people jump around and look completely foolish while having an immense amount of fun as they attempted to get high jumps in the trampoline event. It looks exactly how you’d expect the Wii Fit sequel to look: more games, more interactivity with the newer controls, same Mii-style graphics, etc.
After this, I wandered over to the Rayman Legends area and was instantly impressed. I’ve never ever believed in the new-age gaming philosophy, “Good graphics equals good game” and with that said, I’m incredibly impressed with Rayman’s presentation. The incredibly well-crafted and vibrant colors help bring the world to life and it’s no surprise since it’s these aesthetics that the series has been known for over the past few years. What impresses me even more than the look, is just how co-operative the game really is. The second player (using the actual Game pad) manipulates the environments and world itself. It redefines the concept of co-op play and when you mix all of this in with good ole’ fashioned 2D platforming fun, it’s a game I can’t wait to get my hands on.
Around this time, our Nintendo host of the evening held two contests. Each contest involved a different game from Nintendo Land, one being Luigi’s Mansion and the other being Donkey Kong’s Crash Course. The host briefly went over the game, controls and objectives and then let people have their fun as wrote down high scores and then letting the best contents duke it out until a winner was declared. While the games are on the kiddish side, it was wise for Nintendo to offer contests based on them, as Nintendo Land is meant to be played and enjoyed with as many people as possible. In the process, it honestly suckered me right in and I couldn’t help but root for people.
After the contests were over, Ninja Gaiden 3 as well as Batman: Arkham City were available, so my friend and I went over to test these out (with me taking Batman because it’s Batman). After we finished playing our respective demos, viewing the Gamepad and etc, we came to the conclusion that while the controls were incredibly responsive and intuitive, these are still the same games we have already played on the Xbox, PS3 and even PC. There is no doubt that they will be fantastic supplements for those that have never played them but it seems like that would be such a small minority.
I peeked my head into the back room that featured Just Dance 4 and as I saw some ladies singing and dancing to some pop song, I got scared and never looked again. I’m sorry reader, I could not put myself through it or the embarrassment of even giving it a try myself. At this point, it was time to take a small break from the massive amounts of gaming, so we stretched our legs and decided to walk around. We found that there was an actual photo-shot that let you put on novelty-sized Nintendo paraphernalia and have your picture taken in whatever crazy/stupid way you desire. Since I backed out of Just Dance 4, I could not rightfully do so here. Enjoy.
Since the pictures had been taken and my dignity had forever disappeared, I decided it was time to shoot some friggin zombies as I shambled over to the Zombi U area. There were two sections set up. One designated for single player and the other for multiplayer. Let me just say that each version of the game plays incredibly different from another and this makes total package all the more worth it.
Starting with multiplayer, Zombi U features an incredibly twisted version of capture the flag. I was the “king of the zombies” and used the Gamepad as the screen. As King Zombie, first of my name, I used ‘points’ from an always-regenerating pool to call four different zombies. One zombie goes and captures a regenerating-flag (where placing more zombies on a flag reduces the capture time) and the other 3 zombies were “attack zombies” that would attack the other player if they were close by. The more powerful zombies taking more points to ‘summon’.
The other player would go through the gauntlet of undead, while trying to capture the regenerating flags for themselves and the first person to four captured flags in the small map is the winner. After a single round, my friend dethroned me so quick that it made the Baratheons proud. At the risk of sounding like a sore loser, it seems that the majority of my undead army stood there and didn’t seek out the other player, they’d only attack if he came close to them. It seems like it was working as intended, but it’s a feature that should be altered for the final version
The single-player version was something much more similar to the videos and screenshots that have been shown before. While the controls were spot-on, I want to preface this by saying I am not a fan of ANY first-person shooter on a controller. I refuse to adjust to the console-FPS, even though the rest of the gaming world has moved on. That being said, Zombi U was still a complete blast to play, even with my controller-handicap. It seemed to actually be a survival-horror game and not just another an over-the-top gory action game like most franchises are developing into.
One aspect that I love is how every single thing happens in real-time. From walking around, to accessing your inventory, to using the Wii U pad as a reticule for your crossbow, it ads a completely different element to the game and forces you to look around before you examine or organize your items, less a zombie sneak up behind you and ruin your day. The fact that the single player version was put in its own separate room made for an even more enjoyable experience as the groups of people sitting and standing around jumping and screaming (yes, screaming) at the jump-out moments gave the game an added sense of ambiance. While it may not have been as innovative as Rayman Legends, it was certainly the game I enjoyed playing the most.
After this, I wandered over to the Pikmin 3 area and as soon as I got in line, I was told that alas, it was time to leave. The fine folks at Nintendo didn’t simply kick us out though. They ended the night with a light trivia session that made me realize just how little I know about Nintendo (and everyone else knows so much more than me). The questions included:
- What was the first thing that Nintendo had made (Playing cards)
- What was Mario’s original name (Jump Man)
- name 5 new features of the Wii U Gamepad (Although, one of these features was dual-analog and that seems akin to saying “savable games” in 2012)
- What does Nintendo translate to? (Leave Luck to Heaven)
After this, Nintendo ushered us out the door while giving everyone a chance to grab one of two free items, a fake Mario moustache or a cake-on-a-stick in the form of some Mario item (Koopa Shell, Magic Mushroom, etc) being the fatty that I am, I went with the cake and I have no regrets.
All in all, it was a fantastic time and I’m incredibly glad I received an invitation. Nintendo sure knows how to make a party for their nerdy fans. With just how much fun all of the original and new titles were, I can only hope that Wii U’s future third party games are as intuitive and easy to play as the ones displayed at this event.