Since the Wii U was first revealed, we’ve seen all kinds of strange and wonderful applications for its GamePad controller. Nintendo has used it to put a new twist on classics like Mario and Pikmin, and put together collections of inventive mini-games like Game & Wario and Nintendoland. But some of the most promising titles have been the upcoming third-party releases, like the dual-screen horror of Zombi U and the madcap action of Project P-100.
Games like that have us hoping that other developers look to the Wii U’s unique hardware to do some new and exciting things with controls and interface, things you couldn’t do on any other system. Blizzard has even toyed with idea of StarCraft II on Wii U. That got us thinking of a fantasy list games we'd love to see ported to the Wii U. While the chances of most of these games coming to Nintendo's system are slim to none, they represent different ways to use the Wii U's hardware, and genres that the Wii U could bring to console gaming.
When Blizzard started talking about StarCraft II on Wii U, we probably weren’t the only ones who got flashes of the much maligned StarCraft 64. Real Time Strategy games generally aren’t well suited to consoles. When things get heated, you’re going to miss all those quick keyboard shortcuts. Still, we’d love to see this brilliant strategy game on the Wii U, even if it’s just for the novelty of commanding Zerglings with a stylus, and showing console gamers what they’ve been missing.
While we question whether the Wii U’s interface could be quick enough for intergalactic warfare, we wouldn’t doubt the glory of using our TVs as a no-HUD main screen, and letting the interface remain on the GamePad’s. Keeping the two separate would make us feel even more like a battle commander, issuing orders on one screen and watching them carried out on another. Here's to hoping someone makes a full-blown RTS for the Wii U, even if it's not Blizzard.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Consoles and MMOs are like oil and water, despite some vigorous attempts, they generally don’t mix. However, nothing beats the almighty appeal of swinging a lightsaber. Star Wars: The Old Republic could be just the game to get console players to dip their toes in the massively multiplayer world. Plus, EA’s MMO could really flourish in a market not dominated by World of Warcraft.
The Wii U’s GamePad could provide a touch keyboard, and the Stylus would make a fine mouse substitute for navigating menus and using the Ability Bar. There would be some stumbling blocks, we admit, namely losing all those keyboard shortcuts. However, that hasn’t stopped us from wishing for Star Wars: TOR, or any other MMO really, to show up on Nintendo’s new console. Not only is the hardware right, the system’s social functions, such as Miiverse messaging, could help build the tight community MMOs need to flourish.
Fatale Frame is a series of uniquely hardware driven survival horror games. On the Wii, Fatal Frame used motion controls to create an unsettling atmosphere and moments of genuine panic. With the 3DS, it used the system’s camera and 3D effects to create haunted Augmented Reality features. It might be the scariest series on Nintendo’s systems right now, and it’s perfect for the Wii U.
Since the Wii U’s design combines many features from the Wii and the 3DS, a Fatal Frame for Nintendo’s upcoming console could have the best of both worlds. Front and rear facing cameras present multiple opportunities for AR gameplay, and the addition of motion controls could make the game that much more immersive. Now we’re just worried about dropping our GamePads in fright.
Blizzard has talked about bringing its beloved hack and slash series to consoles, but is only willing to do so if it can be done properly. An admirable attitude, but we wonder if the Wii U has been considered. Diablo III is almost entirely built around a point and click mouse-based interface, and we’re wondering if the Stylus and a touch screen could do it justice.
The GamePad has almost enough buttons to replace a keyboard as far as the Action Bar is concerned, but it’s the loss of the mouse that would be the most trouble. The Stylus would work well enough for aiming and moving, but then there’s the problem of the two different mouse buttons. Could holding down a shoulder button be a workable replacement for right-clicking?
Civilization V is a turn-based classic that any gamer with a head for strategy should experience. We think the Wii U would do a perfect job of facilitating that. We’ve had console versions of Civilization before, but the Wii U’s unique interface could make the experience closer to the original PC version.
Civilization’s slower pace makes it less reliant on keyboard shortcuts, and therefore well suited to a touch interface. The game is big on menus, which could all stick to the GamePad’s screen. This could even make for better multitasking, letting us keep the world map on our TV while consulting with our advisors on the smaller screen.
Team 17’s Worms have a long history of blasting each other on PC and consoles. The latest game in the series, the upcoming Worms Revolution, will be hitting Steam, PSN and the Xbox Live Marketplace, but we’d love to see some racucous Worm action on the Wii U’s online shop.
Nintendo says they want to bring people together with the Wii U, and a game of Worms is at its best with friends in the room. Imagine passing the GamePad between a group of four, launching Banana Bombs and Holy Hand Grenades at each other. The game’s simple interface would translate perfectly to Nintendo’s new system. The touch screen would be great for selecting weapons, and the stylus seems perfect for lining up those finesse Molotov tosses. Maybe it could even make the Ninja Rope a little more manageable.
Company of Heroes 2
Few games could make a better case for a console’s graphical capabilities than this insanely detailed WWII RTS. With individual units who look as lifelike as the character models in contemporary games, and a bevy of convincing environmental effects like melting snow, getting an equally pretty port of CoH2 running smoothly on the Wii U would blow people away. The game’s squad-based mechanics would also do great on a touchscreen: instead of micro-managing individual units, your troops will stick together in intelligent groups, making it that much easier to manage your forces.
As with StarCraft II, you could put any HUD elements on the GamePad’s screen, leaving only beautifully brutal warfare on the TV for spectators and yourself alike. The touchscreen could also be used as a handy in-game reference for units, giving you critical info at a moment’s notice – things like which units counter the enemy’s battalion, or what buildings you need to get that tank you’re craving. Having this “cheat sheet” literally on-hand could go a long way towards making the RTS experience work on consoles.
Porting this cult indie hit from the PC to the Wii U is practically a lay-up, guaranteed to make its target audience happy without costing much at all. If you haven’t tried it, Frozen Synapse has you commanding a finite number of units in an enclosed space, with asynchronous turns that take twitch-reflexes and split-second decision-making out of the equation. What remains is pure strategy: knowing which of your units’ weapons will foil the opponent, and carefully planning your own advance, make the tense strategy that much more cerebral.
What this would mean for Wii U owners is that the touchscreen could easily do all the work, taking away the frantic anxiety of trying to manage your units effectively that has thus far prevented the RTS genre from thriving on consoles. Best of all, you can plot out your moves and watch them hypothetically play out ahead of time – so you’d never have to blame a loss on spotty touch controls or lag. Plus, the stylized minimalist graphics would look awesome on the GamePad, glowing like the kind of futuristic military interfaces you’d see in a sci-fi flick.
League of Legends
We didn’t think modern MOBAs could work on even consoles – then Guardians of Middle-Earth came around and proved the concept handedly. It might be a stretch to use the Wii U touchscreen for ability usage (certain champions, like Karthus and Cassiopeia, need the precision control that only a mouse can offer), but we think Riot could find a way to make a satisfying port of most of the iconic champions. This could be a great opportunity for Riot to prove their development prowess outside of the PC domain, and would stand to boost LoL’s already-plentiful fanbase.
It might not need to be a direct port, either – given how often fans are clamoring for new maps and content, perhaps this version of the League could include new maps that were more compact or play out faster. And given the success of LoL’s Co-op vs AI, with bots that actually make smart decisions, the Wii U version could include an entirely stand-alone, singleplayer campaign of some sort. If it could somehow keep its free-to-play structure on consoles, all the better.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Even though Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of XCOM: Enemy Unknown are already in the works, we think that this squad-based tactical game could find a great home on the Wii U. The combination of Stylus and GamePad could give players a level of precise control close to what PC gamers enjoy with the mouse.
This new XCOM, which is a remake/reboot/whatever of UFO: Enemy Unknown, is full of fixed camera angles that make for a cinematic gameplay experience. A Wii U port could make for an even slicker looking XCOM, since the GamePad’s screen could be used for command interface. The result would be a nearly HUD-less top down and third-person sci-fi experience.
Legend of Grimrock
This old-school dungeon crawler would make for a perfect downloadable on the Wii U, with traditional, accessible-but-deep RPG gameplay backed by shiny new-age graphics. In fact, using the touchscreen to explore each labyrinthine level of this treacherous tower could be an even more satisfying experience than it already was on PC. Having the tactical sensation of tapping just the right stone in the wall, then feeling a secret door slowly shudder open, would make the game that much more immersive.
It would also go a long way towards making exploration easier, for those who found Grimrock’s maze-like design a bit daunting. Instead of constantly needing to pause the game to look at your map, you could simply glance at your location on the Wii U screen, or manage your characters without obstructing the visual playfield. If done right, this could rival ZombiU as the quintessential first-person Wii U title.
We’ve mentioned a lot of big budget, triple-A releases on this list, but we think Peggle would be extra satisfying on the Wii U. Like Plants vs Zombies and Bejeweled on the PS Vita or iOS, some downloadable titles really benefit from an intuitive, touch-based control scheme. Remember World of Good? Our personal favorite version of that indie hit was on the Wii, and we think Peggle on Wii U could also win a place in our hearts.
Peggle is a vaguely pinball-like game of timing and tactics. Drop a ball onto the pegs, and with a little luck, rack up a big score. Aiming the ball would be no trouble with the Stylus, and hit downloadable titles gamers already know would help put the Wii U’s online shop on the map.
What do you want on Wii U?
That's our fantasy list of ports we'd love to see on Nintendo's new system. What games do you think would be uniquely suited to the system's distinctive hardware? Sound off in the comments below.
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