Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Innovative games we'd like to see on Wii U

This is a topic that has been constantly gnawing at the back of my mind for quite a while now and that I wanted to put in writing; less obvious games (i.e. no Mario, Zelda, Metroid or third-party AAA titles) for the Wii U that would not only appeal to masses of gamers, but that would also flawlessly expose the mechanics of the console as well.

The Wii U is more of an elaborate console than many people care to realise, and it is indeed the ideal system to see both grand innovations in the form of new IPs, as well as major reboots of some of our favourite games, old and new. You may have seen a lot of these floating around other sites and forums a while ago, so I thought to explore some very befitting ones of our own that could actually make worthwhile experiences on the console. Some are new game possibilities, some may be sequels/ instalments into already existing game franchises, I can’t really explain any further – there is absolutely no need to. Just take a good, long read.

Rhythm Heaven (also known as Rhythm Paradise) – First off, let’s start with this more simple splendour of an idea. Rhythm Heaven was, without a doubt, one of the most successful new franchises we saw come out on the Nintendo DS back in 2009 – to the point that we saw a very welcome sequel hit the Wii. Most of its indubitable success was based on how it was elegant in its fine simplicity, and fun with its thoughtfully designed gameplay mechanics and resourceful use of touch-controls, not to mention its addictiveness. It was a fun little game with that touch of extras that anybody could get into – core or casual, big or small, experienced or rookie, and that was what made it so approachable. Well, let’s envision this game making an appearance on the Wii U.

The GamePad already has the control basics down – it’s basically the lower-half of a DS, only with more to offer. Utilising slightly tweaked touch-screen controls in conjunction with its motion control capabilities could make for a fresh new angle for a Rhythm Heaven game. Not to mention that if it could also make use of the Wii U’s asymmetrical multiplayer gaming capacities, we could get a melodious local co-op experience in some fun, simple yet expansive mini-games for up to five players – for example, one player has the GamePad (with which the controller played the main rhythm), and up to four other players wield Wiimotes (with which the controller(s) played a combined back-up rhythm).

Imagine using the GamePad to alternate between tapping cymbals and drums using the touchscreen, and having a supporting player or two using their Wiimote/Nunchuck combo to simulate playing guitar notes in the background – it’s an expanded Rhythm Heaven experience with other familiar game elements integrated. This could introduce comfy multiplayer gaming at a very fine angle for Rhythm Heaven – it’d be a new aspect for the series entirely. It’s a neat concept, especially with the myriad of simple possibilities of combined touch and motion controls, and a whole TV screen to fill with the amiably colourful hand-drawn artistry that is Rhythm Heaven – undoubtedly a potential favourite for families who are fans of the big screen.

Magic: The Gathering – The very first and one of the most acclaimed card-trading games universally known, Magic: The Gathering is an award-winning card game popular among enthusiasts far and wide to the point that it hosts worldwide tournaments every so often, has its very own professional team and an online game adaptation of the same experience as the original – collect cards, trade cards, battle others with cards. It’s just one of those simple, addictive, old-fashioned plays that quickly spread as a serious hobby between people until it became global and still finds itself a place among the nerds of modern society. Well, let’s bring together Magic: The Gathering and imagine it officially finding a place on consoles – I nominate it for an appearance on the Wii U, and you bet I have my reasons.

The GamePad has a range of technology to be utilised combined into one neat little rectangle, and one of the more interesting modern capabilities the controller sports is made visible by a little square in the corner – namely, the NFC (near-field communication) square. If you’re unfamiliar with how NFC works, think the Skylanders’ Portal of Power; the Skylanders figures you buy physically in the real world are able to be used and played in the video-game by scanning them in via the Portal of Power. Smart trick, right? Well, now you should be able to imagine the same for Magic: The Gathering on Wii U using the GamePad. You’ll be able to gather all the cards you own and collect in the real world and scan them into the Wii U to fiercely duel and trade with in-game, and what better, with equally stimulating players online all over the globe. And as a minor plus, the GamePad’s touchscreen would also be a simple and effective way of managing and utilising your virtual card deck more easily, especially in the heat of battle.

Another thing that would enhance the experience of the potential fantasy card-based game on Wii U would, of course, be Miiverse. Having a solely dedicated game “bubble” of sorts for enthusiastic Miis to crowd round and chat in is probably the best thing you can have for something of the gameplay Magic: The Gathering involves (and it’s something that’s not too easy to achieve on the internet nowadays) - you could be sharing hints and tips on dueling strategies, discussing the latest card decks available, and even sharing in-game screenshots of your character’s rare cards from the game to flaunt among other users in awe. All these little social touches that’d be inevitable on the Wii U are what make card-trading games fun, communal and interesting enough to become a wide phenomenon.

Pokémon Snap – Pokémon Snap was quite the game when it first launched on the Nintendo 64 back in 1999. Many people wouldn’t have labeled it a true Pokémon game per se, but it did provide a new angle on the franchise and the in-game universe as a whole, as well as making the entire world seem more real and relatable and the 3D Pokémon truly alive – and Pokémon game or not, it was very well-received to the surprise of many, and the notion for Nintendo to revitalise the game on the Wii U in a brand new sequel is significantly profound. However, one notable concern for the game was its short lifetime and lack of content, which in turn affected the game’s overall replayability - this is something many gamers would like to see solved for Pokémon Snap, especially seeing how expansive Pokémon have become over the new generations. With the opportunity to have the game revisited and improved in some areas (improvement’s never a bad advancement, am I right?) as well as the massive potential for such a game utilising the Wii U’s capabilities (and glorious graphics, no doubt), it would seem pretty counterproductive not to see a sequel to this game making an appearance on Nintendo’s latest console. Let’s go deeper.

Again, we bring ourselves to the handy contrivance of the Wii U known as the GamePad. In Pokémon Snap, the main task of the game was essentially to go around taking inspired shots of different Pokémon in a host of different environments – and obviously, that’d mean controlling a camera in-game. Now controlling a camera in-game using a standard game controller can prove a little awkward and sluggish at certain intervals, especially when you need a quick motion to capture that perfect image at that exact second – and the GamePad is the perfect solution for this, while having the opportunity to bring in a few more innovations of its own.

The GamePad is fundamentally a free-form second screen in the palm(…s) of the gamer, and that opts to make the concept of in-game photography much more natural and appealing. Basically, the gamer holds up the GamePad overlapping TV screen and is free to physically move it around in their hands (yay, motion controls) to get their desired viewpoint for the shot, and at the tap of a button, the shot is taken - simple, fast and a lot more immersive than just using a standard controller. The GamePad screen could also implement helpful camera-like features to assist the player in their picture-taking, e.g. alignment markers, a timer, automatic snapshot options and the like, as well as being the centre for managing the photo-album and inventory for the player. Nifty, eh?

Another wonderful feature of the GamePad a Pokémon Snap sequel on the Wii U could make awe-inspiring use of is the controller’s gyroscope. By slowly turning the GamePad around in your living room (or wherever else you may game), you could get a vibrant 360 view of the area to look around as though you were in the game yourself, truly embedding the gamer into the realistic feel of the game. It’d be absolutely remarkable.

Last but not least, yet another feature that deems the Wii U the perfect console for a resurrection of Pokémon Snap is, in fact again, Miiverse (surprise, surprise). Remember how popular it was to share your pictures from the game back then, with all the Nintendo/ Blockbuster campaigns and all? With a discussion board of gamers devoted to the game, players would be able to take their glorious HD in-game Pokémon screenshots and share them on the network with many other interested gamers and even share hints and tips of achieving new items, upgrades and the best photographs possible to accomplish the game. Just another one of those welcome touches that completes the entire experience, right? Nintendo really knows how to implement its ideas successfully, I’ll give them that.

That’s the end of Part 1 of this feature for now – don’t forget to stay tuned for Part 2. What are your opinions on the Wii U and its prospects for gameplay, in particular with the games articulated on above?

- Farida Y
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