Tuesday, June 12, 2012

So Choice

by Esnel Pla
Contributing Author

There's no time video gamers think more about the future than during E3. During these four days we all hope, as a community, to be wowed by new experiences. While Lucasarts' Star Wars 1313 and Ubisoft's Watch Dogs gave us unexpected tastes at where a new generation of home consoles gaming may go, this year, all eyes were on Nintendo and their Wii U. Pikmin 3 was their introduction to the new world of tablet gaming and while the game was stated to have a variety of control methods, on the show floor, one was limited to using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.  The Wii U's GamePad was propped up before the player displaying a map.

While this disappointment to those at the show is indicative of Nintendo's overall missteps during E3, many cried foul. Many don't seem to be enthralled at the idea of using the Wii's original control scheme with its successors hardware. Personally, I'm elated. Short of plugging in a keyboard and mouse, the Wii U will always be capable of the ideal control method. Having more control options is always a good thing. Certain games have always been better with certain control methods. What's better than a d-pad for platformers? An arcade stick for fighters? A paddle for Breakout? And what did we use the Wii remote for?

After the Wii's waggle honeymoon, when the machine was flying off of store shelves and third-party shovelware were flying onto them, game design using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk hit its stride. Pointer controls were refined and shown to be the most intuitive way to aim something - second only to the keyboard and mouse. Red Steel 2, Goldeneye 007, and The Conduit all offered fast and natural controls and Resident Evil 4 and the Metroid Prime Trilogy showed that these controls could easily be adapted from the twin-stick layout. Not only could the Wii Remote be the perfect way to aim, it was an amazing way to control an army.

Pikmin on the GameCube was a delight. While the design behind Pikmin offered a new way to control real-time strategy with a conventional controller, on the Wii, Pikmin was a revelation. Through Nintendo's New Play Control! brand, the original game found a new home and one that it was better suited for. Olimar and his army were a dream to control with IR aiming and nunchuk movement. It was as impressive as stepping into Samus' Power Suit with the same tools.

While the GamePad is full of potential, and that potential was definitely on display with Ubisoft's ZombiU and NintendoLand, the Wii has taught gamers that certain control methods are better suited for certain games. A game like Rygar, another port, proved that conventional controls are often a benefit over shoehorned motion controls. Little King's Story, on the other hand, was only steps from perfection, not utilizing the uniqueness of the device it was made for.

I feared, before this E3, that the unique controls of the Wii would be forgotten. I was afraid we'd lose the amazing controls of Metroid Prime 3 and New Play Control! Pikmin, but now I'm glad we can play Pikmin 3 will the original Wii's controls.

As a Nintendo owner since the NES, I'm used to having plenty of pieces of plastic hanging around. Over those years, there have been plenty of useless novelties.   However, the Wii U is looking like no matter what kind of game you're playing the best possible control scheme will be an available option.  That realization seems to be going over a lot of people's heads, but personally, I'm very glad to see that going forward.


Maxi said...

I hear what you are saying Esnel. There is always options for game consoles but with the Wii U there is even more options and choices. Most consoles have a certain thing that it is best at and that is true of all consoles. I look forward to what happens with the Wii U.

Matto said...

Excellent article. The WiiU is doing something no other Nintendo console in history has done before: not make my older controllers useless.