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Friday, April 19, 2013

Nintendo and the second screen

When the Wii U gamepad features were first laid out by Nintendo, I was very excited. Being able to use touch, having a second screen ala a tablet while gaming, and being able to transfer some entire games to the gamepad screen. Basically, this is a handheld-ification of a home console. I have to admit handhelds have become my favourite consoles, so this got me so hyped and intrigued.

Nowadays I almost always have my Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 tablet with me when I watch TV. I'm surfing the net during commercial breaks, or looking up stuff.... so I thought that the second screen philosophy Nintendo is going for would fit in with my lifestyle very comfortably.

Now that we've had some time to try out the features, I have mixed feelings about the gamepad.

It was such a bold and frankly, weird direction Nintendo chose to go with this generation of console. On paper it sounds great. But in real life gameplay..... I find it unwieldy.

Playing games like Lego City Undercover, which relies on the Gamepad for the map... I know it sounds lazy but it's kind of a drag to have to look down to see the map, then look back at the tv again. It's not as easy as it sounds, especially if you're involved in a fast chase or being pursued and have to look down at the map to plan your destination route while you're driving. And even in slower paced situations, having to regularly trade focus between the screen that is 12 feet away (TV) and the one that is 1.5 feet away (Gamepad) just kinda messes with your eye focus. It would almost be easier to just have the traditional onscreen map in the corner. Playing Infamous on my PS3, having to use the SELECT button to bring up the map screen, as clunky as that is, is still easier than using the gamepad for the map because all my focus stays on the TV screen.

When I first unboxed my Wii U, I was carefully going through all the peripherals and cables... and was rather shocked to find *ONLY* an HDMI cable for TV hookup. My thought was something like, "What the F--???"  At the time, I only had a 27" CRT TV, so I cannibalized my Wii AV cables to hook up the Wii U to my TV. It works ok, but I felt like the Wii U was never meant to be used on a CRT TV, just like PS3/Xbox 360 weren't... which is why I never bought those systems.

But this past Xmas, I got a nice 55" LG smart 3D TV. So nice... sigh..... *ahem*, yeah, and I was *so* psyched to hook up my Wii U to it. Of course it looks great and it's awesome to play games on the big screen. But that great TV screen also makes it harder to go back down to the smaller, crappier resolution/screen quality of the gamepad screen. I have tried playing Darksiders II (Wii U) on the gamepad, and it looks good. But unless I *have to* play it on the screen, as in the TV is being used by others, it's not preferable to play games fully on the gamepad. If only it was *MORE* handheld-ified and games could be fully loaded onto the gamepad for truly portable play anywhere... that would be awesome.

So I have some trepidation as to Nintendo's second screen direction for this generation. I am going to stick with it, and maybe it will grow on me more. But unless the console gets a lot more quality titles and unique uses for the gamepad that set it apart from the other systems, my doubts may continue to grow about this second screen philosophy.... and I still have to really devote a lot more time to Darksiders II, hopefully it will click more with me...


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