We got hands-on Impressions of the updated “tablet” of the Wii U – now called the Wii U Gamepad. At last year’s E3, we had a chance to play with the prototype. The final version has taken a few cues from the feedback that Nintendo received from the Gamepad’s last appearance and, for the most part, implemented them.
The analog sliders are now analog sticks which are also clickable. Multitouch? Not here either and Nintendo confirmed this with us. How many Gamepads can be used per console? Nintendo has also confirmed that only two gamepads can be used at max. Everything that you’ve seen already is still here and the overall size of the gamepad/tablet seems slightly wider from its prototype. You’ll also notice that the Start and Select button has moved to the right next to the typical diamond-arranged ABXY buttons. The infrared transciever that we suspected would be of use has been confirmed as well as the front-face camera, microphone, headphone jack and stereo speakers. The TV control button is also an interesting feature that allows you control your TV. The size of the touchscreen has also stayed the same.
This time around, we saw gameplay on games that seemed close to production such as Super Mario Bros U, Batman Arkham Asylum Armored Edition (which Sean got to experience) and Project P-100. The Gamepad itself doesn’t feel that much different from when we last used it – and that’s a good thing. Sean complained about the bumper buttons being a bit less ergonomic but I didn’t see too much problems with it. The weight of the controller hasn’t changed much and holding it is very comfortable. With the Start and Select buttons relocated on the right side, being able to hit the buttons with your thumb didn’t seem to be a problem. Everything we’ve experienced with the prototype is mostly intact and still has the same nice tactile feel we’d expect to see from Nintendo. Between the finger and the stylus, it’s no contest over which one is more accurate but we’re hoping that games that make use of one or the other and not both. I suspect that this will be the trend in future Wii U games. In Super Mario Bros U, the game barely used the analog sticks and buttons but made heavy use of the stylus as the player would tap the screen to knock out enemies or build blocks for cooperative players to jump off of. In Project P-100, the game was button heavy and the touchscreen was relegated to just drawing gestures. In one part of the game, you’re navigating within the screen itself.
The games on the floor that made use of the gyroscopic and accelerometers showed off the Gamepad’s accuracy. The Gamepad can be used as a steering wheel in racing games or flight controls for a sim. What I’m hoping to see Nintendo do with the Gamepad is make use of apps which I predict will happen in the future. With the Gamepad’s infrared transciever, the controller could potentially be used as a universal remote and macros can be used to run activities similar to the Logitech Harmony.
Obviously, with the front facing camera, there will probably be opportunities to make use of augmented reality. Overall I’m liking what Nintendo is doing with the Gamepad so far. With the Gamepad, it looks like Nintendo has essentially changed their stance from being a console that works alongside media boxes to becoming a multifaceted device.