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Brier Dudley's blog

Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

June 5, 2012 at 11:29 AM

E3: Nintendo Wii U hands-on and video

LOS ANGELES — Here’s a quick video of a fun new Wii U game, one of several that I played at Nintendo’s press event this morning.

My quick first impression is that the controller is easy to hold and figure out and enables fresh new games. But it will take a little getting used to, especially spatial controls, like tilting the controller to navigate or precisely control motion. This gets tricky when you’re also thinking about the array of buttons on the device.

The buttons are similar to those on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which will make it easier for developers to produce games for all three systems. It will also bring more triple-A action games to the Wii, but it moves away from the simplicity that made the first Wii so accessible.

One of the “trainer” games, “Donkey Kong’s Crash Course,” was especially tricky for me. You tilt the controller to move the character, similar to moving ball bearings around a board in the old board game “Labrynth.” I had a tough time getting past the first lap. On the pad’s touchscreen was a close up of the action, while the TV displayed a larger view and could zoom out to see the entire course.

Action games were particularly fun, and the multiple capabilities of the controller give them new dimensions.

In “The Legend of Zelda Battle Quest,” the pad’s stick controls are used to pan left and right, or to draw and shoot arrows. To reload, you tilt the controller to the floor. Additional players on the quest are armed with swords and use Wiimotes to attack enemies.

I especially liked “Takamaru’s Ninja Castle,” part of the Nintendo Land set of games that will be included with Nintendo’s new console when it goes on sale this holiday season.

One level of the game was playable in demonstration stations at Nintendo’s press event. To play, you hold the Wii U game pad horizontally and point its front edge toward the screen to aim throwing stars tossed at attacking ninjas by flicking your finger across the touchscreen.

Other demos include a tech demonstration of a panoramic video viewing capability. You select a place, like a pathway in Kyoto or a flight over Italy, and it launches a video on the Wii U game pad. When you move the controller around, the video pans 360 degrees, showing what’s happening behind and above.

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