Which Wii U games should you be looking to pick up alongside the console later this year?
Which Wii U games should you be looking to pick up alongside the console later this year? VideoGamer.com goes hands-on with the launch window line-up to find out which titles should be on your Wii U wish list.
Don't let the concept put you off: Nintendo Land's mini-game compilation premise may seem dull, but some of its games are hilariously good fun; get a group together, and they will genuinely make you laugh. Each of the 12 included mini-games are themed around a particular Nintendo title, from Luigi's Mansion, Animal Crossing and Donkey Kong, and with each making a different use of the Wii U GamePad.
Similar to Trials Evolution, Donkey Kong's Crash Course is a physics-based platform-racer where players use the GamePad's gyroscope to tilt their cart through a maze of girders and platforms to reach the end goal as fast as possible. The TV screen provides a complete overview of the map, with the GamePad providing a closer look at your particular location.
Takamuru's Ninja Castle, meanwhile, is a modern reinvention of the NES's Duck Hunt, where players throw shuriken by flicking the GamePad's touch screen in their direction.
Nintendo Land is at its best, though, when it's taking advantage of the Wii U's five-player local multiplayer capabilities and making use of the unique gameplay experiences provided by the GamePad's screen. Luigi's Ghost Mansion offers the best example of the five mini-games revealed so far, pitting the GamePad player as a ghost who's invisible to other players using the TV screen, and who must sneak up on the characters exploring the house.
As Wii Sports was to the Wii, this could be the game to get families picking up a Wii U.
An unambitious use of the Wii U GamePad detracts slightly from Miyamoto's otherwise terrific real-time strategy, which sees crashed cosmonaut Olimar guiding small, plant-like creatures across back garden-alike battlefields.
Unlike a typical RTS, Pikmin 3 sees players recruiting the little creatures as they navigate across the area, collecting fruit and building new paths back to their ship. Each Pikmin has its own strengths and weaknesses: Red Pikmin, for example, are invulnerable to fire, making them perfect for attacking flaming cockroaches, while rock Pikmin are great for taking down walls or attacking creatures protected by glass or crystal. It's been suggested that additional flying Pikmin will also debut in the game.
The use of the GamePad is disappointingly limited, restricted to displaying a flat overhead map of the entire area which the player can use to quickly scan the surroundings and plot new routes. But the fact that Pikmin 3's controls appear better suited to the Wii Remote and Nunchuck - alongside a significant gap between previous games in the series - suggests this may have started life as a Wii project, rather than a game built specifically to take advantage of the Wii U hardware.
New Super Mario Bros. U and Rayman Legends appear to be competing for the same space in Wii U's launch line-up, but we think Ubisoft's rhythm-based platformer just has the edge over Nintendo's first-party hope.
So far, we've only seen GamePad functionality working during the game's co-op mode, where a second player can assist Rayman (or any one of the series' other playable characters) by creating new routes and pointing out collectibles.
It's proper co-op too, with success reliant on pitch-perfect timing and navigation, meaning you'll have to communicate with one another when approaching particular areas. One area, for example, sees Rayman navigating a rotating spiked platform, relying on the GamePad player to spin it into the correct position at precisely the right moment.
Legends' refreshing twist on co-op gameplay, coupled with the series' superb level design, makes this one of the stand-out games of the launch line-up.
Pikmin meets Kickass in this arcade brawler from Bayonetta developer Platinum Games, where a city under attack sees teams of superheroes joining forces to send its alien invaders back into orbit.
Controlling a group of up to 100 superheroes, players can launch team attacks to try and overrun enemies, or morph their team into weapons - like a fist, sword or gun - to deliver a larger blow.
The control scheme can seem confusing at first. Oddly, the GamePad's touch screen isn't used to morph the superheroes into particular weapons, but instead act as a reminder as to which gestures players can make on the right-stick. For example, drawing a sweeping circle on the right stick and hitting A creates a fist, while flicking the stick up and immediately right morphs players into a gun. For the most part, the GamePad simply displays a static image featuring these instructions.
Certain areas make better use of the GamePad, though. Heading into a building, for example, lets players control a single character's movements inside the building via an over-the-shoulder third-person camera. But while the rest of the game seems enticing enough for hardcore players to sink their teeth into, it isn't the most encouraging use of the tech on display.
Ubisoft's 'Dead Island London' sees players fending off a zombie invasion across the city streets and "subways" of Blighty's capital, in what could be the strongest title in Wii U's launch window line-up.
Mixing the best bits of survival horror (limited ammo, puzzles and flesh-eaters) with a loot mechanic straight out of Borderlands, ZombiU also makes the best use of the GamePad we've seen in a third-party title so far, balancing a variety of functions and gameplay mechanics on the console's touch-screen.
As well as managing equipment, the touch screen also functions as the scope on a sniper rifle or crossbow, in a manner reminiscent to the aiming in Uncharted: Golden Abyss on Vita. Similar functionality allows you to analyse the environment for loot, holding the GamePad up to the screen to overlay the area with a thermal-imaging type-camera and highlight hidden equipment.
ZombiU does have its fair share of issues, though. In the build we played, aiming felt far too laggy, creating a knock-on effect with accuracy - an issue when you're trying to make every bullet count. But something that threatens to frustrate even more is the game's one-bite kill premise, an interesting-yet-frustrating mechanic made worse by the fact that you drop your loot every time you die. Still, it's quite cool when you see your old dead self, stumbling about and trying to kill you.