Wii U Neglects Asymmetrical Gameplay

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Tingle's Missing Tuner

The verdict is still out on the usefulness of the Wii U’s Gamepad. Its touted by fans to be a new concept that boasts an extensive set of features including a 6.2 inch touchscreen capable of rendering a tv (nearly) irrelevant, a microphone, a headphone jack, a touch-keyboard, and the Nintendo fan favorites, an accelerometer and a gyroscope! Nintendo claims it allows developers to trailblaze new styles of gameplay and they tout a new interface for home consoles. Titles including Nintendoland, ZombiU, and The Wonderful 101 are often mentioned when the gamepad is touted as a way to bring a sense of “certified freshness” to the modern gamer.

However, critics are quick to note that outside of the aforementioned titles few games properly utilize the gamepad. The pad offers off-TV play and DS-like map and item selection, but no other ground-breaking stride have really been made to better utilize the Wii U gamepad. This is a cause of distress for many. I feel Nintendo missed a golden opportunity by not including the asymmetrical gameplay mechanics presented in the The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD through the Tingle Tuner item to highlight the usefulness of the Wii U Gamepad.

Gamecube to Wii U graphics comparison from HiddenTriforce

Gamecube to Wii U graphics comparison from HiddenTriforce

Upon hearing that Nintendo was remaking The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker I was ecstatic. I could only imagine how they would improve upon the original, and to be frank there are many improvements over the original. The visuals have been updated to the point where only a blind man would be able to look at the colorful scenery of Offset Island and not have to squint his eyes because perceived notion of brightness. Gameplay mechanics have been improved to modernize the game. The Quicksail makes traversing the Great Sea easier. The gyroscope can be used to control projectile items like the Boomerang and the Bow and Arrow.

Yet, one piece was missing that puts title title into the another-game-that-doesn’t-utilize-the-gamepad-in-a-non-gimmicky-feature bin. That was the absence of the Tingle Tuner item. The item was replaced with the Tingle Bottle and the messaging system used to send pictures to other players. While that is a nifty feature none-the-less the gamepad is still left looking more like an option rather than vital piece of hardware. The Tingle Tuner would have been able to breathe life into an otherwise useless gamepad. The exclusion of this feature has been known since Nintendo’s 2013 E3 Direct, but I did not realize the feature could have been used to fix a shortcoming until now.

For those that have never experienced the original Wind Waker, the Tingle Tuner is an item that was used in conjunction with the GBA-GCN Link Cable. Upon use the Gameboy would become a dynamic map while capable of updating itself while transitioning areas. It had a menu screen where players could pay Tingle for various commands including bombing enemies/areas, a “balloon” that allowed you to walk off ledges, or a shield to protect you amongst other things. While it seems insignificant now it was definitely groundbreaking ten years ago. It was Nintendo’s current philosophy of asymmetrical play in its rawest form.

The Tingle Bottle that replaced the Tingle Tuner. Thanks for the image, Zelda Informer!

The Tingle Bottle that replaced the Tingle Tuner. Thanks for the image, Zelda Informer!

I believe Nintendo removed the feature because not many gamers knew the feature existed upon the original Wind Waker’s release. Aside from that I cannot think of any more reasons that this feature was removed. A feature like that had no business being removed from the game. Imagine this feature remade and modernized for the gamepad with those same commands and more.

Imagine a more dynamic screen that changed function based on what command the player used. For example, if a player chose to buy bombs imagine the gamepad turning into an interactive 2D map complete with enemies and events where players could mark where a bomb should be dropped. There were countless applications for this feature in the high-definition remake. For once the gamepad would have a use besides just a map or a gyroscope or off-TV play. Nintendo missed an opportunity to show the more skeptical gamers that this controller is not a gimmick but a useful piece of technology.

While the Wind Waker ship has sailed I would be remissed if I did not address another title that would be well suited for a Wii U release. The Legend of Zelda: The Four Sword Adventures was another unpopular Zelda title released during the Gamecube era. It was a full-fledged title based on the Gameboy Advanced Four Swords side quest. The Gameboy Advanced and the GBA-GCN Link Cable were used to feature a type of off-TV gameplay. This was a four player co-op where everyone played as a different Link in order to defeat Vaati.  All four players would use a Gameboy Advanced but a Gamecube controller could be used in single player. (Edit - There was an inaccuracy in this sentence. This was the original statement: Player one would use a standard controller and the TV while the other three players used a Gameboy Advance connected to Gamecube.)

The Gamecube's Four Swords Adventures: Asymmetry in motion. Thanks, NWR!

The Gamecube's Four Swords Adventures: Asymmetry in motion. Thanks, NWR!

In practice, all players would use the TV while they were together in the same area, but if another player ventured into a house or another area of the overworld their view would change from the TV to the Gameboy. This allowed for players to be doing different things in a large world all at once. Nintendo could revamp this system with online play. When players enter an area they can still see the Overworld on the TV with the other players, but that particular player could switch to the gamepad to explore. Besides this the controller may give players new ways to productively interact with one another. This is another way to make the gamepad useful and Nintendo would be foolish to pass it up!

Nintendo needs to outline the use of the gamepad to make it for appealing to the consumer. Nintendo definitely has the ideas but offers little resolve when it comes to execution. I also made a YouTube video outlining the same thing here and with a few ideas I may have missed. Take a look below and tell me what you guys think, and until next time. Peace!