Loving the feel of new hardware in my hands…
Nintendo invited GGUK to a hands-on session with their upcoming Wii U console at the Nintendo Showcase event, which was held in London over a period of three days. This was our first opportunity to experience the console and the game pad for ourselves. With such a tremendous amount of coverage from the E3 Press Conference held in Los Angeles, we were more than a little excited to know what the game pad felt like in our hands for the very first time.
Once placed in my hands, the Wii U Game Pad dimensions are significantly smaller than the game pad we were initially exposed to when Nintendo first announced their new hardware, and there have been other changes made, which have been noted elsewhere. The Game Pad is smaller than I originally anticipated, and fitted comfortably into the corners of my hands with its curved edges nesting neatly into the folds of my fingers. It didn’t feel bulky or intrusive, but comfortable and solid. With the Wii U Game Pad sitting comfortably in my hands, I was impressed at how portable and light it felt. It didn’t feel heavy, which surprised me as this was one of my main concerns after the initial announcement last year. The idea of having to hold a heavy piece of hardware for extended gaming sessions was not something that would appeal to me.
Each of my thumbs rested comfortably on the analogue stick found on each side of the controller, which felt good and gave me a sense of solid control. These analogue sticks can be clicked down when pressed, very much like the Xbox 360 controllers. On the underside of the Wii U Game Pad are two wide and well placed triggers, which fell perfectly beneath my fingers, and two shoulder buttons which were easily accessible. The natural contours of the Wii U Game Pad, and its beautifully polished finish, was easy to grip, but I would worry that there may be some “sweaty hands, flying controller” issues during the excitement and rapid movement of certain gaming sessions.
The 6.2 inch touch screen display was a little smaller than I had anticipated and not as bright as I would have hoped. Having said that though, during my gameplay time with Animal Crossing: Sweet Day with Nintendo Land, I noted that visually the graphics looked bright, rich and vibrant, so maybe this was dependent on the game. The touch screen is very responsive during gameplay, although I noted some delay in response time when playing the Game & Wario mini games. Whether this was due to signals not being received precisely or just the way I was holding the game pad, I couldn’t quite tell.
The implementation of the Wii U Game Pad at this event was certainly more casual in nature, so I am unsold yet as to how this new hardware will appeal to the more hardcore gamers. The fact that you can play different gaming content on the Wii U Game Pad and the TV screen is certainly interesting and I look forward to seeing how this is used in more of the core games. One thing I did notice while using the Wii U Game Pad was that it is quite a juggling act having to switch your attention from the TV screen to the game pad and back again. Different games require the player to give more or less attention to one of the two screens, which certainly takes some getting used to.
The Nintendo representatives made sure I used both the game pad and the Wiimotes during gameplay to ensure that I had the full Wii U experience. There was a great emphasis on family interaction throughout the event, which suited the game pad really well as the player using the game pad can have a different experience to those using Wiimotes and the TV screen. But it was hard to get a feeling for what single-player gaming will be like.
My initial impressions of the Wii U Game Pad are essentially positive, it is a solid piece of hardware which feels comfortable and, despite a few glitches, works well. The emphasis on family interaction and gameplay ticks all the right boxes for the casual market. But as of right now, my main worry is how much the new console and its impressive controller will appeal to the core gamers. I am still very excited about the Wii U and look forward to the final release line up, which will hopefully cater to all types of gamers.