The leaves are a changing colour and it is even wetter than normal here in olde England, which can only mean one thing – the Eurogamer Expo! It may have happened at the end of September this year, but better late than never I say and I got to play several co-op titles on the Nintendo WiiU. Check out hands on previews of Rayman Legends, Nintendo Land and New Super Mario Bros U.
Now that’s what I call asymmetrical gameplay
When I think of Nintendo consoles, I often find myself pondering why the first party games are so much better than the majority of third party games. The magic of Zelda, Mario et al. seems to rarely rub off on developers outside of the Nintendo stable. This may be about to change with the Nintendo WiiU as Ubisoft’s Rayman Legends is a great game, arguably surpassing what Nintendo have to offer at launch.
As explained in this video, Rayman Legends offers asymmetrical Co-Op, a form of cooperation where you work together, but players have differing gaming experiences. At Eurogamer I was able to play Rayman Legends using both a traditional style gamepad and the new WiiPad. Firstly, on a purely base level, the game looked great, easily up there with the HD visuals of the first game on 360. However, as great as the art style of the newest Rayman games has been, we are interested in the co-op.
That also works brilliantly. Neither player feels left out, the traditional gamepad player has a superior platformer to play, with more than a pinch of uniqueness to each playthrough. This is provided by the other player who controls many of the environmental aspects from the WiiPad. They can release platforms, destroy enemies and highlight paths. One great element is when the screen needs turning. I had flashbacks of the parallax scrolling on the SNES as I twisted the WiiPad so that the screen turned. Meanwhile, my gaming buddy had to keep platforming as the world twisted around them.
From the preview I was able to play, it appears that Rayman Legends will have plenty of fun ways to use the WiiPad. More importantly, the implementation of the WiiPad is on top of an excellent platform title. Co-op game of the Expo for me.
Check Nintendo Land out mate
Nintendo titles aimed at the family audience and I have not always seen eye to eye, with Wii Play and Wii Sports Resort gathering dust on my shelves as I await another visit from one of my several nephews. They are fun for an inexperienced gaming audience, but I crave a bit more depth and sophistication. These are not the terms I would use to describe Nintendo Land, but having played some of the mini games available in the collection; I do think it is a higher standard of experience. Especially as many of the games are co-op.
The two examples of co-op I played on Nintendo Land were both competitive co-op (of sorts). It was the WiiPad player versus the WiiMote players. One level is set in the world of Luigi’s Castle; each player is given a torch and must hunt out the Boo, played by the WiiPad holder, on a Pac Man style board. Only the WiiPad player can see the Boo on their mini screen and they are able to sneak up on the other players and knock them out. The gameplay was pretty frantic and nerve-wracking, for a team to succeed they needed to communicate. When someone’s pad started to rumble, it meant the Boo was near – tell everyone to get to your position.
Teamwork was also central to a level set in the world of Animal Crossing. Here the player with the WiiPad controls two guards, one for each thumbstick. The WiiMote players must work together to gather 50 pieces of candy without being caught, the more candy they carry the heavier and slower they become. Once again the gameplay was frantic as we were chased around the screen, to get the most candy you had to stick together.
From these two mini games alone, I was very impressed with Nintendo Land; it highlighted the different types of game you can play by using a WiiPad, without descending into gimmickry – another great advert for the platform.
New Super Mario Bros U
Only one word can be used to describe this man - cool
And now for arguably the biggest game to be released with the WiiU, New Super Mario Bros U. However, out of the three games I played, it was the least memorable. This is not to say that the game was not decent, just not as fun or as intuitive as either Rayman or Ninty Land. NSMBU plays similar to the NSMB available on the Wii. This includes all the positives and negatives from that game – the co-op is a little frantic for my liking as 4 WiiMote players dance around the screen, but the level design and graphics are superb.
Where NSMBU differs from its predecessor is the addition of a 5th co-operative player who handles the WiiMote. They are able to aid their fellow Marioites by placing additional platforms on the screen to make gaps shorter or jumps lower. This seems ideal in theory, but in practise you often ended up placing a platform in the wrong place and causing more of a hindrance than a help. Like in the previous version of the game, the co-op is almost a case of one-upmanship and is as competitive as it is co-operative. I prefer my games a little more sedate.
Overall, I was mightily impressed with WiiU’s offerings at this year’s show; I also saw ZombieU and Pikmin 3. With more 3rd Party games being released for the platform this time around, the hardcore have a little more to look forward to. However, it is still clear that Nintendo considers itself a family friendly brand and that they will concentrate on this market. As someone who already owns 100 mature shooters on the 360 I am quite happy to have a more relaxed console to play with.