Google+

Why the best thing about Wii U is not the thing you've been getting excited about for the last year

Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, for example, looks a lot like Nintendo’s GBA/Gamecube link-up title Pac-Man vs., but in actual fact it plays more like Metal Gear. That’s if you’re playing as the ghost anyway. If you’re controlling one of the human crowd, it requires most of the same mindset as a horror FPS, only refocused through a top-down perspective.

Seriously. I have not gone mad.

As the ghost – controlled on the GamePad display, invisible on the TV, and tasked with hunting down and grabbing the human players – you’re basically a slimy green Solid Snake. Unfortunate slippery serpentine imagery aside, you’ll find yourself tracking the movements of your prey, pre-empting their next moves and slowly, steadily, tactically manoeuvring yourself to gradually close in while avoiding ever being caught in front of anyone. While you remain invisible 95% of the time, your opponents can flick on a torch beam which will both highlight and damage you should you be caught in it. In practical terms it works just like Metal Gear guards’ cones of vision combined with their fire-arms.

Above: Okay, so no-one's going to go into 25-minute existential ramble about nuclear disarmament, but you get the idea

As the human players, it’s all about vigilance. The environment might be a simple 2D maze, but with multiple branching corridors at almost every turn, the “Check your corners” mentality vital required by any tense shooter needs to be ever present. Tight, disciplined surveillance, back-to-the-wall self-preservation, and just as importantly, communication will inform your play during every single second.

Although invisible, the proximity of the ghost will trigger controller vibration in the other players. It’s soft at first, and more intense as an attack becomes imminent. Smart teams will split into two groups of two and use safety in numbers to cover every possible angle. They’ll warn each other of the approximate movements of their hunter. Even downed players can shout warnings if they feel an attack coming in as other players stop to help them up (a lengthy process ripe for exploitation by the ghost).

“He’s here"
“No, he’s gone past”
“I think he’s heading left”
“I can feel him! SHIIIIII…. Oh no, he’s gone down to you”
“CrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapcrapBEHIND ME! Shine behind me, my torch battery’s flat!*

Above: I know the fun absolutely does not show up in screenshots, so I've labelled it

This kind of fast, simple, half-explained shorthand communication is vital to both the tactical play and the fun of Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, and it’s also the kind of communication that could only be effective between players in the same room. 

Similarly, proximity is inherent to the part of the game’s fun that comes from the segregation of the two factions. Being aware of the physical difference between the survivors and the hunter - via the simple differences between controller-types, and also the inevitable shuffling into the corner of the ghost player in order to hide his in-pad display from his prey – creates a tangible sense of “Us and him”, building a stronger rivalry, greater sense of threat, and funnier pay-offs at each and every encounter. These feelings just wouldn’t come about online. They just wouldn’t.

*This may or not have been the tragically-ignored fateful exchange that led to me getting Justin killed at one point.

Topics

Nintendo Wii U

25 comments

  • Fruitbat - June 21, 2012 12:26 p.m.

    Off the top of my head, I have at least 10 multiplayer-centric games on my PS3, including classics like Worms and Bomberman, but also new franchises like Battle Tanks and Castle Crashers. The local multiplayer hasn't gone away, but it's mostly to be found in the download market rather than part of a bigger title, which has its good and bad points. Still, I see a lot of potential in the Wii U for multiplayer, and it's nice to see it being exploited already. Definitely a point in its favour for me.
  • Rub3z - June 17, 2012 9:16 p.m.

    You know what I haven't done in a long time? Sat down next to someone on the couch and challenged them to some pedal-to-the-metal racing mayhem. Autolog in the newer racing games is all well and good, but it , as well as racing against others over an online connection, cannot possibly compare to racing against someone who's every bit as confident at said racing game as you are, right next to you. Couch racing, imo, can provide for local multiplayer at its most pure. There's not even any reason for someone to complain about "screen-looking" that's so prevalent in, say, FPS games. But you know when your opponent starts starts sniggering to himself, or you hear the roar of his engine or the scream of his speedboost go off, when he howls in laughter at bumping you to the outside of a corner, or groans and curses when you do the same... there's really nothing quite like it. :)
  • jackthemenace - June 15, 2012 3:42 p.m.

    Totally agree about the lack of local multiplayer this generation- one of the reasons I love Borderlands so much is because of being able to play it splitscreen with my friends. There's been such a major focus on online multiplayer that local multiplayer's kind-of taken a backseat, and been neglected altogether in a lot of games, but it really doesn't deserve that- it's something developers should value very highly.
  • Alex_Syros - June 15, 2012 3:32 p.m.

    Your articles, Mr. Houghton, are pure gold! Both content and delivery. Bravo!
  • IceBlueKirby - June 15, 2012 11:50 a.m.

    As someone who has spent more hours playing Super Smash Bros. Melee, Mario Kart Wii, and other games with people in the same room than playing anything online, the focus on local multiplayer would certainly be welcome. I just hope that, like others have said, it doesn't dampen the single player experience, since I'm not likely to have anyone to play the games with most of the time.
  • mikes1025 - June 16, 2012 4:14 p.m.

    it won't dampen it. it can't. it has everything that the other consoles have as well.
  • bobob101 - June 15, 2012 11:11 a.m.

    I understand the fundamental point he is trying to make, and it seems like a good one. But I have always preferred to game solo, and that is when I find gaming most enjoyable. To try to sell me on a system of gaming that is the most fun with at least one other person really turns me off, and I think that I may not be getting a Wii U for this reason.
  • ZhugeLiang - June 15, 2012 10:02 a.m.

    No... no! My torch battery's gone FLAT! SHINE BEHIND ME, DAMNIT! WE'RE GETTING OUTTA HERE ALIVE, SOLDIER!
  • shawksta - June 15, 2012 7:32 a.m.

    Coming from you Dave, I couldnt agree more. NintendoLand in general is easily thrown off when people dont realize its true meat. And whose to say there wont be awesome core single player games, P-100 and Pikmin 3(I still cant believe how every singtle pikmin is SHINY) look awesome and Multiayer games too. Nintendo really means it when they wanted to bring players closer.
  • ncurry2 - June 15, 2012 7:24 a.m.

    Another great article Mr. Houghton. I agree, I love local multiplayer.
  • Mooshon - June 15, 2012 5:29 a.m.

    Makes me a little bit sad really. My fondest gaming memories are local multiplayer Goldeneye, Bomberman, ISSoccer/Pro Evo with the lads. Facts are though that being in your 30's and married kind of locks you out of such jollies. Hard enough to get everyone together for a drink up let alone a LAN party - and my missus, bless her, is frankly crippled at gaming. If the single player experience is standard (at best) I'll probably be skipping this one.
  • Cyberninja - June 15, 2012 5:27 a.m.

    I know what means I never play online mutiplayer, but when I gathered up a few friends and played rayman orgins it was a blast.
  • theycallmegep - June 15, 2012 4:14 a.m.

    great article
  • SiPod - June 15, 2012 4:07 a.m.

    Ah this is reassuring. I'd be starting to get quietly confident about the console, were it not for Nintendo's unrealistic demand that unsavoury characters such as my self make some friends. And as for having them congregate in the same room, well.
  • mikes1025 - June 16, 2012 4:19 p.m.

    what about family? im sure not everyone is thrown off by you.
  • patrick-donaldson - June 15, 2012 2:52 a.m.

    Couldnt agree more, the best thing about the Gamecube was lugging it round a mates house for 4 player Bomberman, I cant wait to re live those days with shiny graphics.
  • tehtimeisnow - June 15, 2012 2:43 a.m.

    wii u is the biggest fale i ever seen it will fale so hard espacially since the new iphone will b out soon seriuosely when the neew iphone goes out there wont even b a wiiu
  • ShadowTails - June 15, 2012 3:06 a.m.

    'The biggest fale' Hahahahahahahaha. Really?
  • AuthorityFigure - June 15, 2012 4:43 a.m.

    "When the new iphone comes out there won't even be a Wii U" ? I don't even think YOU understood this when you tried to beat it out of your small, soft, wet brain-case.

Showing 1-20 of 25 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000