Wii U: 10 things Rayman Legends teaches us about the console
1st Jul 2012 | 16:30
Ten months of NDA-induced Wii U silence was rudely interrupted by a leaked trailer, just prior to E3. Not only did the naughty video reveal a sequel to the rather stonking Rayman Origins, it confirmed a Wii U release and exclusive functionality. Nintendo made it this close to E3 without anyone spilling the Wii U beans... but not close enough. So what did the leaked footage tell us? And did it reveal anything it wasn't supposed to?
1. Wii U pumps out pretty games
A 2D platformer may not push Wii U's innards like one of Bruce Wayne's photorealistic Bat-pecs, but it's certainly no slouch. Already, Legends is sharper than Origins, boasting pin-sharp toons bathed in incredi-lighting. Check out the winged beasties lit up by purple fireworks and try to stop the drool pooling around your knees.
2. Wii U pumps out pretty games... twice
Forget those shadowy insiders and their portents of tech spec doom: Wii U is not only matching 360/PS3 on the TV, but is doing it all over again on the tablet. It's likely thanks to Ubisoft's smart scaling tech (Rayman Origins is beautiful on every format), though do spare a thought for Wii U's AMD Radeon GPU - picked especially for its multi-display video streaming.
3. Wii U requires no extra investment for multiplayer
We knew Wii remotes worked with Wii U, but seeing three in action alongside the Wii U controller hammers the point home: you needn't shell out another £100+ in order to play with your chums. Not if you've already got a Wii. And that's £100+ to spend on crisps. Or, if you're these Ubisoft employees: baguettes.
4. Wii U's second screen isn't a glorified map screen
Incredulous gamers (all of them) believe Wii U's tablet window will be the resting ground for map screens and inventories. Legends tells them to put a sock in it by putting the tablet in control of the entire level. As three players struggle over flaming pits, one 'game master' chooses whether to lower or raise platforms. The power! THE POWER! MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!
5. Wii U has at least one great Nintendo Network game
Rayman Origins' local multiplayer is like New Super Mario Bros Wii with bonus disruptive slapping. This, of course, is hilarious for the slapper, not so much the slapee. Wii's local setup meant friends could retaliate with real-world wallops. On Wii U, the Nintendo Network (Nintendo's answer to Xbox Live and PSN) keeps them at a safe distance.
6. Wii U encourages social gaming
Legends also offers indirect competition with 'ghost data' challenges. Levels become time trials or collection challenges, the result of which can be beamed to friends' consoles to lay down the gauntlet. Ubisoft talked up similar features for Ghost Recon Online. Whether or not Tom Clancy's grim soldiers will also be racing across giant bassoons is yet to be seen.
7. Wii U might have tethered controllers
The tablet has a rather incongruous cable sticking out the top, leading some to think that Wii U has dropped its wireless functionality. If this is true, the controller has undergone cosmetic changes - at E3 last year, the charging socket was clearly on the tablet's base. It would certainly gel with rumours that Nintendo can't get wireless play working with acceptable consistency. BUT...
8. Wii U probably won't have tethered controllers
Ubisoft quickly pointed out that this is a work in progress dev-kit used in a trailer intended for internal use only. Dev-kits aren't indicators of finished products - the 3DS kit has GameCube pad support - and shouldn't be seen as such. Wireless play is at the heart of the tablet's design: Ninty aren't going to tether a pad designed for 360-degree motion yanking to a console.
9. Wii U's NFC capabilities could be a lot of fun
NFC, or Near Field Communications, is a means of data transfer between an NFC 'tag' and a 'reader'. It's the tech behind Skylanders' toys, and is now confirmed for Wii U. Placing chip-embedded figures on the tablet transfers their data to the game. A heart might give a health boost, for example, while a Rabbid toy unlocks a mad bunny-infested bonus warren to explore.
10. Wii U's NFC capabilities could be very expensive
Question is, is NFC just a fancier (and more expensive) take on DLC? Buying extra doodads appeals to the ten-year-old Pog collector in us, but isn't this the very micro-transaction model of play Nintendo are so adverse to? Won't our houses become cluttered with plastic trinkets? God help us if the Pokémon Company decide they want in. Hopefully, E3 will explain all.