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Thu Oct 30 15:49:55 SAST 2014

Hands on with the Nintendo Wii U

Bruce Gorton | 18 November, 2012 08:100 Comments
The new Wii U GamePad and Console. File picture.
Image by: PHIL McCARTEN / REUTERS

The first next-generation TV console is coming out in South Africa at the end of the month – the Nintendo Wii U.

With this in mind I went to Core to try it out. Though I only really got a chance to play Nintendo Land, a sort of sampler of the various titles that Nintendo are known for, it was fun.

The disadvantage to testing the console with Nintendo Land was I didn’t get a perfect impression of the graphics, because it is harder to tell how good the system can look with a cartoony style of game.

That said, the textures were crisp and clean, while the gameplay was smooth and fast paced.

On paper the system doesn’t appear that much more impressive than the Xbox 360 – about all it has over its older rival is a lot more RAM, but we don’t play games on paper and this system has a few new tricks that set it apart.

This brings me to what I really got a good impression of - how the wide variety of ways the controller can be used, and how backwards compatibility plays to the heart of the new system.

That is a major selling point – gamers who already have the Wii will be able to use their old peripheral devices (including things like the Wii Fit balance board) on the new machine, meaning your old gadgets are still worth keeping around.

To a large extent the impression I got was based on the new Wii U Gamepad.

Luigi’s Haunted Mansion was the game where I actually got to try out asymmetric multi-player, where one player has the Wii U Gamepad, and the others have the old Wii Nunchuk controls.

The player with the Wii U Gamepad plays a ghost, which only appears on the Wii U touch screen. The other players use the Nintendo Wii Nunchuk. The other players meanwhile end up watching the TV tensely waving their flashlights around while being hunted by the ghost.

It is the sort of thing made for parties.

That said, it isn’t only in multi-player that the new controller shines – a demo of Donkey Kong showed how using the screen to manoeuvre your character, simulating gravity as you zipped around the course.

Meanwhile the touch screen capabilities were shown off with a ninja game, where you slide your finger across the screen to launch shuriken at your enemies.

It even operates a bit like a semi-portable gaming system. While the processing power is still in the console, one person can be watching TV, while you are playing a game on the Gamepad thanks to its built in screen.

It is interesting and fun to play with. I can only hope that developers feel the same, and the system gets a lot of games that live up to its potential.

The Wii U Basic Pack includes a Wii U console with 8 gigabytes storage and a Wii U GamePad, and is expected to sell at a recommended retail price of R3 999. The Premium Pack, which ships with 32 gigabytes storage and is bundled with Nintendo Land is recommended retail price of R4 599. There will also be a Zombie U Wii U premium edition, which will ship with Zombie U, at R4 999. All three versions of the console will be hitting South African stores on 30 November.

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