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

The same goes for Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, in which four players race to co-operatively collect 50 sweets from unlockable dispensers while avoiding two hunters controlled independently by the two analogue sticks of the GamePad. The combination of the stressful situation (the more sweets you carry, the slower you move), the inherent giddy confusion of split-screen gaming, and the on-the-fly tactical choices demanded (“SHIT THEY’RE COMING! DROP YOUR SWEETS AND RUN! FOUNTAIN! FOUNTAIN! ONE IN THE TREES!”) makes for a killer sense of fun that the separation of online gaming would not and could not provide.

Above: However you feel about Animal Crossing, you've never been able to describe it as 'frantically exciting'. You can now

As for Rayman, it grows entirely different bonuses from the moist fertility of couch-co-op. With one player controlling Rayman on the TV and the other tweaking, adapting and editing the level around him on the GamePad by opening up new routes, moving platforms around and even holding enemies down so that he can beat the crap out of them, it’s not only a beautifully bonded co-op experience, but also creates a wonderful sense of a shared whole focused through two completely different lenses. By giving the players such completely different roles, it creates a much stronger sense of purpose for each through the knowledge that they’re accomplishing things for the other that their partner just could not do for themselves.

Similarly, the two different experiences are tailored to provide little flashes of exclusive fun only available to one or the other. During a hectic chase sequence for example, every jump and punch is choreographed stunningly to the soundtrack, creating an almost platform Guitar Hero vibe for the person playing Rayman. But then as soon as you switch over to the GamePad, you’ll discover a whole load of completely different percussion parts synched to helpful taps of the screen.

Above: Watching this video is really annoying because it makes me want to play Rayman Legends again and I do not currently have access to Rayman Legends 

In fact that literal instance of two players playing different parts to make up a whole tune is a rather good metaphor for the Wii U’s asymmetric multiplayer stance in general. Whether it’s five players creating both sides of a mini-Metal-Gear scene or one player operating the world that the other romps through, there’s as much a sense of collaboration as there is competition. With players interacting with and affecting completely different aspects of the game world in completely different ways, there’s a really human sense of the players actually making the game as well as playing it. And with so much of that heaped upon and amplified by the proximity of one’s gaming compatriots, frankly stalking through Gotham under the stoic, lonely mantle of the bat suddenly feels like a complete waste of the Wii U.

Maybe the lack of local multiplayer this generation caused us to forget what a vital part of gaming’s DNA it used to be. Maybe that’s why we’ve been concentrating on the shiny AAA big-hitters all year. Maybe the Wii’s proliferated stink of insipid party-game waggle-horror has given the concept a dirty name. But whatever the reason, we’ve been getting excited about the wrong thing with Wii U for over a year. And the thing that really is most worth getting excited over at the moment really is far more fun than you could imagine without trying it.

Let’s just hope that the potentially problematic reliance on multiple different controllers (exacerbated by Nintendo’s seeming assumption that the whole world already has a stack of Wiimotes and nunchucks ready to go) doesn’t stop too many players from experiencing what the Wii U can really do. Because at it's best, it's brilliant.


Nintendo Wii U


  • taokaka - June 15, 2012 2:38 a.m.

    As a huge fan of local multiplayer it has saddened me to see it lose this generation to its soulless ginger sibling, online multiplayer. Luigi's ghost mansion was the most impressive game to get revealed at e3 this year in my opinion (sorry beyond two souls) because of its local multiplayer and I'm glad you thought highly of it as well.
  • 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.
  • TheFabricOfTime - June 15, 2012 6:42 a.m.

    I honestly can't wait for this thing to come out. I remember back in 2008 when I really wished I could play online, but back then I didn't have a great connection. Turns out... it's not much. Playing with a bunch of randoms on Call Of Duty isn't as fun as sitting down with my brother to play a game of Super Smash Bros or Timesplitters. My bro and I don't even play together anymore, he's too interesting in being good at Call of Duty, and he HATES the splitscreen mode. This article actually has me looking up to the future of gaming with a nod of nostalgic respect. Nothing beats playing with your closest friends in the comfort of your living room, being able to stop the game action with a simple pause, and laughing at the simple things. Cheers to Nintendo for being casually hardcore.
  • J-Fid - June 15, 2012 7:29 a.m.

    I thought they banned you. Or were you hibernating with your new iPhone for the past few months?
  • mikes1025 - June 16, 2012 4:20 p.m.

    what's an iphone have to do with a wii u? or any video game? not understanding you.....
  • Fred1712 - June 17, 2012 6:04 p.m.

    Your spelling is the biggest *FAIL I've ever seen.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • theycallmegep - June 15, 2012 4:14 a.m.

    great article
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • ncurry2 - June 15, 2012 7:24 a.m.

    Another great article Mr. Houghton. I agree, I love local multiplayer.
  • 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.
  • ZhugeLiang - June 15, 2012 10:02 a.m.

  • 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.
  • 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.

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