Even Nintendo Is Stumped by the Wii U GamePad

The crowning feature of Nintendo's Wii U is supposed to be its GamePad controller, but you wouldn't know it from the games that Nintendo was showcasing at E3.

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The crowning feature of Nintendo’s Wii U is supposed to be its GamePad controller, but you wouldn’t know it from the games that Nintendo was showcasing at E3.

At a small event for the press, Nintendo touted six games that are coming to the Wii U later this year or early next year: Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Pikmin 3, Bayonetta 2 and Super Smash Bros.

None of these games requires the GamePad to play. At most, they only use the extra screen for supplemental features and gimmicks.

The Wii U GamePad has a 6.2-inch touchscreen in the middle, flanked by thumb sticks, buttons and triggers on either side. In theory, the extra screen is supposed to open up some amazing new types of gaming that aren’t possible on other consoles.

But right now, even Nintendo seems stumped by the controller. In the games I sampled at E3, the touchscreen didn’t add anything meaningful to the experience.

In Super Mario 3D World, for example, you can touch the screen to interact with a certain object, like POW blocks. This makes the game slightly easier in a handful of areas, but it was essentially a glorified cheat button. In Mario Kart 8, the touchscreen includes a horn and a way to switch between controller types. You can also view a map and see which items other players are carrying, but it’s too difficult to look down at this information while driving. Putting this information on the TV screen would be more helpful.

If Nintendo can’t do interesting things with the Wii U GamePad, it makes you wonder why the company even bothered, instead of building a more traditional console like the upcoming Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The Wii U isn’t as powerful as these systems, so it’s a hassle for publishers to create Wii U versions of their games. Some publishers, such as Electronic Arts, aren’t working on any games for Nintendo’s platform.

At this week’s press event, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said software sells hardware. But with so little third-party support, and so few games that really take advantage of the Wii U’s unique hardware, the console’s $350 price is tough to justify, even after Nintendo gets its next Mario and Zelda games out the door.

It makes me wonder whether Nintendo is setting the stage for a low-cost, GamePad-free version of the Wii U. Given that the GamePad isn’t essential to Nintendo’s upcoming games, and that it doesn’t have much support from other publishers, a low-cost alternative to the PS4 and Xbox One doesn’t seem outrageous. Ditching the GamePad would be embarrassing, but it could be Nintendo’s best chance at turning its fortunes around.

92 comments
BenjaminMcElvany
BenjaminMcElvany

The Gamepad was designed years ago with the new Zelda in mind. So if it really only gets used a fraction of the time, but it helps make the new Zelda the best game ever...then it's worth it I say.

onestopfunstop
onestopfunstop

Here's the advantage of the game pad.  Please somebody tell Nintendo.

Sports Games on Multiple Screens.

Baseball: The Hitter can't see what or where the pitcher is throwing.

Football: the opposing player can't see the formations or play calling, etc..

Pokémon:  come out with a good old school Pokémon game where the tablet is the Pokédex.  What's cooler than that?  A Pokémon game with a real Pokédex?

Any multi player game where you don't want to give away the strategy on screen to the other player.

Its so simple to see the potential,  Why doesn't Nintendo Advertise the system and make it look cool instead of portraying their flagship product as only being for 6yr olds.  Have you ever seen a commercial for this system that makes it look at all fun to play.

This thing is awesome.  Every Kid in our neighborhood is sitting in my living room playing with my son on his Wii U everyday when I get home from work.  and they all think it's the coolest system ever.

Why doesn't Nintendo advertise and make it OK to like their product.  It's like they don't want people to like their product on purpose.







urho.galeva.geggonen
urho.galeva.geggonen

So what's the bad side about the Wii U GamePad not being required? They did the same thing on Wii, i.e. in Mario Kart Wii and Super Smash Bros. Brawl; you could choose of at least four control methods in both games. How come having more options is a bad thing? It would be worse if you actually had to use the Wii U GamePad in every game.

And about the lack of the touch screen usage: think about the Mario platformer remake for the DS. Had Super Mario 64 DS any revolutionary way to use the second screen? No, the touch screen was only used as a map and as an optional way to move the character in the game. So why should Wind Waker HD, which is a remake too, have to use the second screen?

HaroldGuy
HaroldGuy

"you wouldn’t know it from the games that Nintendo was showcasing at E3."

This article kinda contradicted itself. Out of the 3 games that you could play, it makes me wonder if the writer of this article even plays video games... first of all, if E3 is a showcase, wouldn't it be bad if the gameplay was on the gamepad and not the booths with the giant tv's? But besides that glaring point, the games that were there were: a racing game, and 2 platformers.

The main idea of Nintendo's E3 this year was to showcase thier amazing fun games. There are already intuitive and creative (and most importantly fun) games on the Wii U library that utilize the GamePad, such as Nintendo Land, Zombie U (too scary! my brother plays it), and Game & Wario.

The writer is a classic case where someone favors looks over experience.

DerrickSanislo
DerrickSanislo

Saying that game Devs or nintendo cant find any intuitive ways to use the game Pad is complete utter BS. The game pad acts like the lower half of a DS screen, (in fact it is., more or less) there's ton's of things that can be done on it.  Just as They did and found with the DS.  

Hell I still remember some of the trololol comments game Devs and anti-Nintendo fans where making when the DS was first announced, some where calling is a gimmicky pile of garbage, and that would fail.    Several systems later it still has a larger library of games that crush the PSP.

We now have a 3DS-3DSXL with working 3DS effects without classes. 

Kuroki
Kuroki

 Make the Wii U Gamepad Smaller it doesnt need to be the size of an apple ipad tablet. The size of the bottom portion of the 3DS XL or a PSVita would suffice and would probably appeal to more consumers. Release more colors in North America and the world and get rid of the 8GB version. 

That is the best start to having a succesful sales year this year and next. Work on the games 2nd and make sure to announce them early even if its 3-4 yrs down the line for release. STOP trying to implement the gamepad controls so much simple uses for the pad are what makes it so great, Nintendo has sooo much experience through the DS handhelds this shouldnt be an issue at all.

DO THIS NINTENDO MAKE ME PROUD

Kuroki
Kuroki

Make the Wii U Gamepad Smaller it doesnt need to be the size of an apple ipad tablet. The size of the bottom portion of the 3DS XL or a PSVita would suffice and would probably appeal to more consumers. Release more colors in North America and the world and get rid of the 8GB version. 

That is the best start to having a succesful sales year this year and next. Work on the games 2nd and make sure to announce them early even if its 3-4 yrs down the line for release. STOP trying to implement the gamepad controls so much simple uses for the pad are what makes it so great, Nintendo has sooo much experience through the DS handhelds this shouldnt be an issue at all.

DO THIS NINTENDO MAKE ME PROUD!

SwiftrightRight
SwiftrightRight

I dont know what Nintendo was thinking, sure lots of folks like it but its selling like crap. The Big Brother Box is going to be dead on arrival.  PS 4 is set up to clean up.

And its wierd to even be typing that, I have loved my Xboxs and my Wii and I haven't owned a PS since 1997

quentin.whiteman
quentin.whiteman

Wow, what a crappy article. As the writer you just seem like a band wagoner to the rest of Wii U hater's. There are several games that make heavy use of the game pad. Mario 3D is one of them the essentially puts a fifth player into the game by helping out the other four players. The Wii U pad can be used in addition to 4 Wii remotes, which holds true on alot of other Wii U titles..

icareeradvice
icareeradvice

Well, they don't have to use the gamepad in a super special way. If you can recall, the GamePad's usefulness really kicks in with the offscreen gameplay. Or 2 people can play the same game without worrying about a camera.... in the same house.. SBI Recruitment without 2 game consoles... without split screen. That's pretty neat. Off TV gameplay is a great idea and Sony nor Microsoft can combat that.

Kaihaku
Kaihaku

I'm surprised that anyone is complaining about this. One of the biggest problems with the Wii was that motion controls were tacked onto many games in unnecessary, unintuitive ways. This is a sign to me that Nintendo has learned from waggle controls and is only going with what makes sense for each individual game. Honestly, this is a huge relief for me...I was worried that there would be a repeat of waggle controls.

Also... Wind Waker HD, Pikmin 3, Wonderful 101, and Wii Party U all make heavy use of the gamepad.

CharleyAbrams
CharleyAbrams

I find the game pad really useful, even if it is not the main focus of every game, it doesn't need to be, I'm glad its not in fact. Its a touch screen, meaning a pocket knife of digital control. Some games focus around it, like Nintendo Land, while on others, it adds details of convenience. Instead of going through start menus, you can always look at your map, or select your weapons or other options depending on the game. It also makes dealing with the internet, Netflix or any type of registration where you can use the touch screen as a keyboard really easy. In addition, every game has the option of pausing the game, taking a screenshot, and then typing in a message with the touch screen keypad to Mii verse, to ask for help, or show people certain aspects of the game. Another useful use of the game pad is that you can adjust the volume of your TV while playing a game. These features are what makes it great. It is a worthy upgrade to the over all experience. There is no way they would ditch the pad, this article is completely ridiculous. I would expect "Time" to be an outsider to the game industry, and not have a holistic point of view, but why don't they just do some research or interviews or maybe, play the system even before throwing their random opinions and predictions out there?

SuperKevio
SuperKevio

I play the Rayman challenges app every day - and I do so off screen with the gamepad.  I use the touch controls to control the obstacles in many of the challenges.  One of the best games in Nintendo Land is Mario Chase where one player controls Mario - with the gamepad screen - and the others frantically try to find him.  Or in Super Mario Bros U, you can have five players play and the fifth player has added so much fun and craziness to our gaming sessions.  I also try to draw "masterpieces" on the Miiverse.  I am a 32 year old adult who is having a blast with this thing.  It wouldn't be a Wii U without the gamepad.  I've heard a lot of Nintendo hate from "news" sites that just don't understand what they are playing, but this is the craziest article I've read yet!  Just step away from the computer and pick up the gamepad and HAVE FUN!

scott41863
scott41863

The consoles are playing the price is right with consumers. Gimmicks are about all they have left and the Wii U simply offered little in advancing hardware or features to justify the cost. I have to wonder if Microsoft and Sony will have similar results selling XBox One at $499 and the Play Station 4 at $399? Has the consumer simply run out of money for gaming?

GeoCY
GeoCY

My gawd the fanboys here are all in rage.  Well written article and great advice for Nintendo.  I dont use the gamepad...if i wanted to play with dual stixks i would have purchased another console.  A replacement of the gamepad for a next gen wiiremote would be epic.  The gamepad costs as much as the console and its a waste.  I would sell it off on ebay but i cant get nintendo updates without it!

derekdonovan
derekdonovan

Obviously these guys have no knowledge at all in the game industry and have no right to make such claims like they've had in this article. Maybe you'd like to make a console of your own? No? Well then shut up.

CarCrashClutter
CarCrashClutter

Oh, I'm sorry Time.  I'd thought Nintendo had already sold 155 million gaming devices with two screens over the past nine years and absolutely knew what they were doing.  I'll go trade in my Nintendo systems for the obscenely successful Time Magazine game console.  Please forgive my mistake.

bigrack21
bigrack21

Madden?   You can design pass plays on the fly.   That is pretty useful.

OrangeLada
OrangeLada

The Wii U controller allows asymmetrical gaming and off screen play.

I like those two features.

Watashi
Watashi

the games were designed so that people would have different controllers to choose from if they wanted variety or had preference for one controller over another
no specific controller is completely essential, just a controller is essential

trevorsoh
trevorsoh

Well, I have to respectfully disagree with this editorial. Although each to his own opinion. 

Keep i mind though, two of the most popular upcoming games, Battlefield 4 and Watchdogs both which will be feature prominently on next gen consoles XboxOne and PS4, are using smart glass ideas ie. tablets as complimentary controllers. This is evidence that people are thinking about this idea for mainstream gaming, which in turn shows that Nintendo isn't necessarily going for niche or gimmicky appeal. 

Perhaps there is some foresight in its innovation. Lets see what the next year proves for Nintendo's console - whichever way, it if proves sucessful or unsuccessful, Nintendo will have no choice but to exploit the feature to its full potential if it wants to gain a healthy market.

I think its also interesting how Wonderful 10, makes use of the gamepad in unique ways, and also Pikmin 3  which may prove offer a genuinely useful gamepad mechanic.


CarlosMendoza1
CarlosMendoza1

in other news Time should shut their traps and think of the other games and features that use the gamepad, like Miiverse, off-tv mode, ZombiU, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, DeusEx Human Revolution Director's Cut, browsing the net when you get stuck on a game and dont have a computer or its not within reach or is turned off. so who cares if the devs dont use the gamepad for special things, nintendo isnt shoving it down their throats like someone coughkinectcough. its up to the devs if they wanna innovate games with the gamepad or not so no nintendo wont ditch it and you can all cease to exist as a magazine news things that lies and is a nintendo hater. and if my post gets flagges or deleted then it means im right and they cant handle the truth

elmonton
elmonton

i play online with my brother COD black ops 2 is nice bc i dont have split screen in my tv

rinslowe
rinslowe

Just another paid article. When will you ever learn M$? You can't simply bribe your way to success with Xbox One, it's a joke! And slandering the competition who's right now laughing at you because the way in which you recently committed professional suicide at E3, is equally pathetic.

Most people can see right through this anti-Nintendo hate wagon, propaganda... We know whats going on. Micro Soft you've failed once again...

Bunnyking
Bunnyking

they've moved us guys...  Times has moved us.  XD

MacroManJr
MacroManJr

I dunno--I can think of some pretty imaginative things that can be done with the Wii U GamePad.  I think Nintendo might have a harder time finding usage for games like Mario Kart and Super Mario because they're games with simpler game mechanics anyways.  Their designs are already pretty sufficient in themselves.  You're not going to get a whole lot of mileage out of the GamePad's features with these games anyways--not anything that won't just feel like a little gimmick touch thrown in for a little novel fun.

But when you think about games such as RTS games, MMO games, action-adventure titles like Watch_Dogs, and even new genres that have yet to be invented or innovated, the GamePad leaves a lot of room for experiences that can be refreshing.  I think it just takes the right kind of games to showcase some more creative uses out of the GamePad.

Watch_Dogs is a game where you literally use a device to hack electronics all over the open-world city to aid your cause--the GamePad can fit perfectly for driving that game's mechanics.  This is just one example, but again, I think there are many opportunities in store with the GamePad's design.  In fact, I think the GamePad is doing just what a game system ought to do--challenge developers to make truly new types of gameplay experiences, rather than just tacking on the latest new gimmick feature to their otherwise same game.

I myself am an indie developer looking to work with Wii U soon enough.  Nintendo's opening their doors to indies much more now, and I think we of all people can show the world what it can truly do.  I'm with an indie game company who are creating an RPG where the battle and exploration system is unlike much anything out there.  You engage in battles in real-time (while in mechs, by the way), but you still have to use your attacks in traditional RPG style (that is, menus), so that you'll have to dodge and do standard weapon-based attacks in real-time, but if you want to use a special power, you'll have to risk turning to the GamePad to select your attacks from an organized menu system--special attacks don't just come as easy as a press of a button.

On that same menu screen is a top-down view of the real-time action, so that you can keep track of yourself while selecting power-ups, as well as direct where you want those power-ups applied (be it an attack on an enemy or healing towards an ally).  You can also at any time check the status of your party members by touching on their icon on the touchscreen to pull up their stats.  There would also be times where exploring dark regions like underground caves come into play, and where your individual mech's light can only light so much, and so you rely on sharing your camera view with party members what little you can see and vice versa, until you make it out of the cave alive.  It's just like how you'd need to work together to get out of a real cave.

You can also use the GamePad to talk to your friends in your party online together engages in battles, and you can direct tactics right there on the touchscreen that all your friends can see.  Enemies would have weak spots as well as advantages that your team would have to engage in working together to attack against effectively.  If your party member sees something that the others don't see, again, you can change your GamePad screen to see their camera view and help you see what they see. This is important because your party can be facing a great number of enemies at once, who won't set with a set-back difficulty level on you merely because you're the protagonists.  You'll truly have to work together to survive.

You can trade certain weapons and items mid-battle by bringing up your inventory on the GamePad screen, and dragging your weapon or item onto the team member you want to trade with (provided they have enough inventory space to accept your item).   You'll use your GamePad to flip through several modes it can be used for, including as a way to survey damage done to your mech, temperature and weather readings to play in your favor, check the condition of your weapons, and other such things that you can use to your advantage.

Also, central to the story of the game, while you're exploring and fighting, you'll experience transmission signals from people abroad and broadcasts of news going around the RPG world as you journey across it, you will chart the world as you journey it (much of it for the first time for your party members), and when your party members are split up across the world, your party will carry dialog on that GamePad screen while you're split up.

None of this is feasible without the GamePad controller.  It allows for a depth of teamwork and strategy with a level of integration just not seen in gaming.  If I as a mere humble indie developer can think of this stuff, then imagine what a major developer with a team of seasoned veteran developers and designers and tons more money can do, if they cared to think outside their staling niche-market designs a little bit.

[We're working on our first demo and our game's IndieDB page, all to be finished by the end of this summer.  We'll be looking to Kickstarter to raise funds necessary towards becoming a Wii U developer.  The game's called SeVer.]

mattyzzster
mattyzzster

You guys had better suggest that Microsoft gave up their nuclear policies about DRM for Xbox One.

BGhp1
BGhp1

I didn't know different  new game experiences and different new gameplay was a gimmick.

Bunnyking
Bunnyking

People that don't own a Wii U or haven't played on one shouldn't write articles about it...  Especially when the Warner Media company they work for is in bed with Microsoft.  Simples.

http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article.php/3336011/Time+Warner+Microsoft+in+DRM+Play.htm

http://www.technewsworld.com/story/business/36105.html


PS:  Maybe you should write something about why the XBOXone has increased sales of the Wii U after their horrible review.  Or why XBOXone CEOs don't just back down from their idiot policies and make them more gamer friendly?

JimmyD.Fugate
JimmyD.Fugate

Pretty terrible article. Games like ZombiU, RE Revelations, Nintendo Land, MH3U, AC III and others use the gamepad quite well. Not all games have to use the gamepad in some mind blowing, new way....ther are a lot of good games you just can't mess with. Off TV play is a good idea...not some gimmick. The gamepad allows for asymmetrical multiplayer and helps so people don't screen look. Plus, the Wii U has been out for less than a year....do you really expect it to be getting the killer apps at a time like this? Again, terrible article by a misinformed journalist...

ljinkkidd
ljinkkidd

Well, they don't have to use the gamepad in a super special way. If you can recall, the GamePad's usefulness really kicks in with the offscreen gameplay. Or 2 people can play the same game without worrying about a camera.... in the same house... without 2 game consoles... without split screen. That's pretty neat. Off TV gameplay is a great idea and Sony nor Microsoft can combat that.

jrobitaille23
jrobitaille23

yeah. these kind of articles are just hilarious. THE reason the gamepad is used is for off TV play. So you can be playing on your TV and someone wants to watch their show. Instead of being a hermit and retreating to your room or basement, you can continue to play using the gamepad and stay in the same room...you know..as a family. It's actually a pretty cool and useful feature. Yes, there are other ways it is utilized i.e map/inventory in ZombiU, as a scope in Call of Duty, etc with more to come as developers keep working on it. Then Yahoos like this author overlook that based on seeing scant gameplay at E3 demos. Honestly, the author's suggestion that they will offer a gamepad-less console because their isn't third party support is laughable. It's as if he has no idea what he is talking about. Nintendo has NEVER gotten 3rd party support and like the Wii (which sold more than PS3 and Xbox) it sells very well due its strong 1st party titles. 

The Wii U launched probably a year too early and didn't come out with any strong 1st party games. That hurt sales for sure. BUT, they will still have sold 4-5 million consoles by the time PS4 and Xbox One come out and by then their strong software will help keep pace with the others. 

hiptanaka
hiptanaka

What's with all this passive aggression against Nintendo? I'm waiting for a similar article about Kinect. A multi-camera box mostly used for voice commands, and the Xbox One would probably be $100 cheaper without it.

SirEddieMoney
SirEddieMoney

I would just like to speak about Pikmin 3 and The Wonderful 101, both of which make ample use of the GamePad. These two games are but the harbinger of what will be coming to the Wii U in the coming years. They bring PC-style gameplay, which has historically almost never transferred over with optimal results, to consoles. When these titles release, well before the launch of either of their competitors' platforms, you will have a very clear idea of how Nintendo is looks to use the GamePad. Taking potshots at the platform months in advance of a deluge of titles, based on demos you saw at E3 I might add, is simply unwise.

I sincerely hope that the hits you derive from writing such dramatic criticism are worth the amount of hatred that will come with said hits.

XCWarrior1
XCWarrior1

Wow, and now I must add Time to the list of trolling websites that don't have respectable writers. Shameful. I use the Gamepad's special function all the time - called Off TV play. Wife wants to watch a show and I want to play a game? No problem, because of that Game Pad.


Shame on you for trolling Time. You guys are now at the same level of credibility as any tabloid you find at the checkout of a grocery store. Fire the guy who wrote this, and the editor that OK'd it, and maybe you get some respect back. Pitiful.

MMBTycalibre
MMBTycalibre

Ugh, so dissapointing to see respected publications following the link bait route on their articles like the internet journos.


Can't you find anyone who actually knows about videogames to write about them?

quentin.whiteman
quentin.whiteman

I wouldnt call being able to play my Wii U while my g/f watch Lifetime movies a gimmick. I call that convienence. The Wii U gamepad is also in full HD which make the games played on it look amazing. No pad on the market has the visuals the U pad has.

poizon.ks
poizon.ks

Those can HARDLY be considered two of the most popular upcoming games.

MacroManJr
MacroManJr

Oh, and I think Nintendo's just discovering what they can do and want to deliver the best usages like they know they can, and such discovering and slow-crafting takes time--I don't think they're struggling, though.  I'd say Pikmin 3 is proof of that much.  Just because they have some games that use the GamePad minimally, it doesn't mean they're struggling.

Again, some of those games just by design are sufficient in their design and don't require great implementation of the GamePad's options.  The GamePad offers <i>options</i>--it doesn't demand that developers make mandatory and thorough use of every feature.  That's not going to work for all games.  But when and where it does work, it'll really work.

Bunnyking
Bunnyking

@jrobitaille23 

The Wii U sold more than the XBOX360 or the PS3 during the first 4 months after launch, without any big media promotion but no one reported that.  These reporters focus on whatever they want, or their boss tells them, their editors ask for them to twist their stories and bias them, they are just tools.

I don't know if you remember how much negative press the Wii got but it outsold the PS3 and the XBOX360 and even forced those systems into jumping on the motion control band wagon.  Now the same media sources are praising the Kinect and the Move while they mocked Nintendo's prototype.

We can see right through you (phony baloonie media) guys, all you do is aggravate us.

คอรี่คุมบ์
คอรี่คุมบ์

Not to mention Microsoft is a NSA PRISM partner. The kinect is required to be plugged in at all times... I'm not paranoid but I just don't trust our government. Let alone Microsoft

John_Sia
John_Sia

@SirEddieMoney Yep. Short term gain in page views for this page. Long-term brand reputation damage. 

คอรี่คุมบ์
คอรี่คุมบ์

Agreed. Off TV play is a godsend feature for us.. Wifey needs to use TV, I don't have to leave the couch. We can both can do our own thing while sitting laying next to each other... Although I need to get rid of her FarmVille addiction;)

Lindyshutterbug
Lindyshutterbug

Awesome reply! As a long time gamer from the 2600 age, I'm very excited about all the new/exciting/different games that indie developers are bringing to the Wii U. I am very interested to learn more about the game you're developing. Is the anywhere that I can go to find more info?

HeatherRichmond
HeatherRichmond

My Kinect is not always pluged in alot of times its not even anywhere near my xbox only time I have it plugged in is when I am playing a kinect game.. thats it.

MMBTycalibre
MMBTycalibre

@คอรี่คุมบ์ He might know about videogames now, but there's no sense that the writing in these articles is informed by a knowledge of videogame history.


It's not like there's a huge amount of it to learn.