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Wii U picture becomes clearer

July 12, 2012

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Wii UFor the second hardware generation in a row, Nintendo is facing an uphill battle when it comes to explaining to consumers what its new console has to offer. And for the second console generation in a row, explaining what the system does seems almost counterintuitive; the games speak for themselves once controller is in hand.

G4 Canada had a chance to pick up the new Wii U Gamepad and try out several games at a recent Nintendo preview event held in Toronto. Dozens of games were being shown off in playable form, and it's clear that everything makes sense once you're in front of a television screen.

For the uninitiated, the Wii U is a brand new Nintendo system. Though it can support peripherals such as the Wii Remote, it features a new tablet-like controller called the Wii U Gamepad. This controller has several face buttons, two analog sticks, and a touch screen that all help to enhance gameplay in interesting ways. We've provided a rundown of five titles we had time with:

Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition - Although Wii U games run the gamut in terms of what controller(s) can be used, this newest version of Arkham City relies solely on the Wii U Gamepad. There's certainly a learning curve when it comes to getting a feel for where everything is on the Wii U Gamepad, it mostly works well.

Wii U Players move and fight using the usual button and analog stick inputs, but new features are added for the Wii U version of Arkham City. For instance, when you pull out your Batarang, you can aim it using the Wii U Gamepad's gyroscope. There are also gadgets you can control directly from the Gamepad itself, but I found this to be a little confusing, looking back and forth between the two screens.

The game is a good display for what the system can do in terms of graphics, as Batman and his surroundings look superb. There's lots of attention to detail, right down to the Dark Knight's cape as it moves behind the character as he runs (or sneaks) toward enemies.

Otherwise, this game feels very similar to the same Arkham City that came out on Microsoft's and Sony's consoles in 2011.

Project P-100 - It's really difficult to describe this game (and its controls), but in essence, it's an action game where you're a Viewtiful Joe-like character who is tasked with recruiting numerous citizens to join your army, which runs around a colourful town, taking out massive robot enemies.

Like the Batman game, Project P-100 solely uses the Wii U Gamepad. A lot of the basic controls can be pulled off using the four face buttons, but by drawing specific patterns on the touch screen, players can summon special weapons once a meter is maxed out.

Wii U The game is really slick, even with all kinds of chaos appearing onscreen and despite controls that aren't completely intuitive. The section we play has several large enemies appearing one after another, but the whole level culminates in a screen filling (and then some) boss that no one seemed to be able to take down.

The game looks to have a lot of hidden items and secrets (some of which can only be found by looking at the Wii U Gamepad screen), and a challenging difficulty level, which is very much a good thing.

Project P-100 is all kinds of weird, but so far, it's coming together as something that works well

Luigi's Ghost Mansion - This is one of several "Nintendoland" minigames that feature specific games or characters from the Nintendo universe. Though it may be a minigame, there's a ton of fun to be had with Luigi's Ghost Mansion. It does a great job of showing off the Wii U's capabilities, and it's just plain addictive as heck.

The game let's up to five people play - four people are human characters in a single room in a mansion, each of which is controlled by holding a Wii Remote sideways. The fifth player controls a single ghost using the Wii U Gamepad. No one can see the ghost unless it's nearby and a flashlight is being pointed at it.

Wii U The object of the game for the humans is to knock the ghost's hit points to zero by shining a flashlight at it when it's nearby. The ghost, meanwhile, is trying to knock down all four humans by touching them. They can revive each other, but once all four are down, it's game over.

It may sound simple - and really, it is - but it's legitimately fun trying new tactics every time a new player begins controlling the ghost. There's a lot of strategy needed in order to take the ghost down, and in our time with the game, no team was able to do that.

Luigi's Ghost Mansion is bound to be the kind of game that will get not just "hardcore" gamers playing the Wii U, but more casual players. One of the highlights of the event, to be certain.

Rayman Legends - A follow-up to last year's absolutely brilliant Rayman Origins, "Legends" follows the same platforming formula as "Origins", but throws in some neat Wii U-exclusive features to make a hectic game even crazier.

A few levels were on display at the event, and each one allowed one player to control Rayman, and another to use the Wii U Gamepad to do ... other things throughout the level. The second player could do everything from knock out enemies, to uncover hidden items, all by tapping the Wii U Gamepad's touch screen.

Wii U A much trickier gameplay element saw Rayman running up a tight, round corridor while the second player used the Gamepad's gyroscope to move a spike-covered wheel in the centre. If both players aren't perfectly "on", Rayman is going to get it, and sure enough, that's what happened numerous times. After some trial-and-error, though, several players were able to make it through the nasty trap.

The game looks spectacular in high definition, and while we weren't able to hear if the music was as amazing as the stuff featured in "Origins", all signs point to "Legends" being as addictive as its predecessor.

Pikmin 3 - Although the Pikmin 3 demo we played did next to nothing to show off the Wii U Gamepad's capabilities, it was still a highlight of the event because, well, it's Pikmin.

Players control the protagonist just like they did in the Pikmin and Pikmin 2 "New Play Control!" remakes for Wii. You use both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to control your little leaf-like helpers, and it's all just as intuitive as the games that came before it.

Wii U We had a chance to try out the boss battle level, taking on a massive caterpillar-like creature in a dark cavern. We had a chance to take control of the new rock Pikmin to take out the enemy's hard, shiny outer shell, while we saved the red guys to pummel the soft body underneath into submission.

As familiar as it all is, it's difficult to complain about this game. One thing worth noting is that Pikmin 3 was probably the best looking game on display at the event. Even on Gamecube the series' first two games looked stunning; now in high definition, the attention to detail is amazing.

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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see