Wii U Experience Event

Date Attended: September 7th, 2012

A few weeks ago I received an invite to the Wii U Experience event in Seattle.  As a gaming dork the concept of a Wii U experience event sounded totally rad so I decided to bless this event with my attendance.

Snazzy Lanyards! Don’t tell Nintendo but I got two!!!

The invitation came with three codes I could use to invite my closest gaming buddies.  There was a catch however – invitations were non-transferable and required a picture ID.  I quickly sent text messages out to my normal gaming crew but due to most of my friends having kids and families I didn’t get any immediate replies.  Eventually I resorted to making actual phone calls to people and I was able to convince Tron5000 and 1337chicken to attend the event with me (names changed to protect their identities).  Shamefully Ollie and Randal were not able to attend for reasons that can only be described as disgraceful.

After parking and making our way to the event we were handed some snazzy Wii U lanyards and we completely forgot about our absent friends.  We were herded into a crowded hallway where the smell of nerd sweat was almost completely overpowering.  It was 80 degrees outside and I’d stupidly worn a sweatshirt so I’d have an extra pocket for my 3DS.  It was worth it though, I picked up over 30 street pass tags on my 3DS.  That’s 23 more than I’d picked up in the year and a half since I bought the thing.

After opening the doors we ran straight for Zombie U.  They had both single player and two player Zombie U stations and we ended up at the two player station.  After a lengthy explanation that I couldn’t hear a word of due to the ambient noise level we were finally allowed to play.  I played the role of the Zombie master and it was my goal to drop Zombies on the map using the touch screen.  I was surprised by how light the Wii U controller feels.  It isn’t a whole lot heavier than a normal controller and I found it to be very comfortable in my hands.  1337chicken was playing using the Wii U Pro controller and appeared to be having a lot of trouble.  Afterwards he explained that the controls were absolutely insane and he wasn’t used to the button layout.  Control issues aside he did end up defeating me although I feel I must point out that it was pretty close.  Overall the game was a bit of a let down.  Both 1337chicken and I had issues with the controls and graphically the game looked a bit cartoonier than I expected.  I’m a
little less excited about Zombie U than I was before but I’ll admit I
didn’t try the single player which is supposed to be much better.

Zombie U Pro Controller Layout

Afterwards we all split up and went to different stations.  Tron5000 went to check out the New Super Mario Bros Wii U, I went to check out Pikmin 3 and 1337chicken went to see Batman.
I was surprised to see that Pikmin 3 didn’t use the Wii U controller at all.  I was handed a Wii remote + nunchuk attachment.  The Wii U controller was on a stand under the television where it was configured to display the map.  While playing the game I didn’t look at it once.  I assume that you can use the Wii U controller as your primary controller but that was not part of this demo.  With the exception of the HD graphics the game appeared to be identical to it’s predecessors.  The highlight of the game was the new Rock-type Pikmin that were used for cracking glass walls and squishing enemies.  I’ll definitely be picking this game up at launch.

Rock Pikmin…rocked.

After Pikmin 1337chicken, Tron5000 and I met up at the Ninja Gaiden booth.  It had the shortest line and some of the best graphics at the event.  This was the first game I played where the Wii U controller actually used as the primary controller.  The touch screen can be used to select weapons and display the button sequences to pull off certain combos.  It was nice to have but hardly a necessary feature.  Graphically the game looked pretty similar to the PS3 version.  Action was fierce and I didn’t have time to learn the buttons so I just mashed keys down until my demo was up.

Ninjas!!

About the time our Ninja Gaiden demo was over a contest was announced over at the Nintendo Land station so we rushed over to participate.  The challenge was to get as many points as possible in Donkey Kong’s Crash Course in under three lives.  The big TV displayed the entire course for the other people in attendance and the Wii U controller screen was zoomed in on the portion of the map I was playing in.  You tilt the controller to move your cart along a maze and hit different buttons periodically to move platforms.  I died fantastically pretty early in the map but 1337chicken almost won.

1337chicken almost winning a T-Shirt.

Time for the event was running out so I went to the shortest line which at this point appeared to be the aptly named Project-100 (working title).  In this game you have a group of super heroes who can build power to transform into various objects that can be used to fight giant robots.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense but it was pretty fun.  The Wii U controller was used as the primary and the touch screen allowed you to choose what weapon you wanted to transform into.  This was done by drawing a gesture such as a half circle or a vertical line.  The game was pretty fun and I’ll probably check it out when it gets released.
Next I went over to the Rayman line and participated in a two player game.  Tron5000 used the Wii U controller and I was on the Wii U pro controller.  They gave me some headphones as well because the level we were playing used sound to indicate when you should jump or attack.  The game was pretty fun for me but afterwards Tron5000 said that the Wii U controller was only used to draw points on the screen for me to pick up and wasn’t very fun for him at all.
Finally we went over to wait with 1337chicken in the Zombie U single player line, which was the longest line in the event.  We wanted to see if the single player was different than the multiplayer.  It appears that in single player mode the primary controller is the Wii U touchpad controller.  The game isn’t a fast paced action game but looks like a slower stealth horror game.  They were giving people 10 minute demos and I’m sad to say that 1337chicken was next in line when the event ended and they shut all the Wii U consoles off. 

The Smell of Nerd Sweat was Strong

We were handed little mushroom cupcakes on sticks as we exited the event.  Overall it was a fun experience but I have to be honest and say I’m a little less excited about the Wii U now that I’ve seen it in action.  Half of the games I played used the old Wii remote or Pro controller and didn’t use the new touch screen controller.  The majority of games that did use the touch screen controller didn’t create substantially different experiences than using traditional controls.  The word that most often came up in our post event discussions was ‘gimmicky’.  I still plan on buying a Wii U console but I won’t be spending the night waiting in line to get one on launch day.
 

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