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We played Wii U Play's tech demos


Hey, remember yesterday when I said I would play the rest of the Wii U tech demos and deliver impressions of them for you? That doesn't even seem like the same day. In the east coast, it isn't. Anyway, I returned to Nintendo and took hold of the WiiPad™ to try out the rest of the experiences Nintendo prepared.

And I was exactly whelmed. Not overwhelmed, not underwhelmed. It was what it looks like.

Gallery: New Super Mario Bros. Mii (Wii U) | 5 Photos

"Chase Mii" tasks four players, using Wiimotes and looking at the TV, with pursuing a fifth player, who uses the touchscreen to plan a route around the maze-like map. The idea is that the Wiimote users will coordinate with each other to box in the other player, telling each other which quadrant of the map they find him/her. As I played this, I realized exactly why it felt so familiar: I've played hide-and-seek in my 30 years on this Earth it's Pac-Man Vs. One player can see the whole map on a private screen, and the rest share a TV, and a limited perspective, as they try to pursue that person. I liked it in 2004, and it's a fun experience now. But then, as now ... it's not enough to anchor your E3 presentation with.

"Measure Up" is a minigame in which two players are challenged to freehand lines, shapes, and measurements, passing the WiiPad to each other after each attempt. The game then puts both players' efforts on the big TV, and judges who got the closest to the required 2.5" line or 60-degree angle or whatever. It is exactly as much fun as it sounds, which is to say "some." It also served as a showpiece for the DS-like touchscreen technology, as described here.

"Battle Mii" is a pretty cool third-person shooting game, and one that is weirdly Metroid-themed. Two Wiimote-based players on the ground in a future-spacey arena full of hills, blocky obstacles, and sniper-type towers, work to shoot down a third player in a spaceship, controlled by the pad. The on-foot players, who are (for no reason) Miis in Samus Aran suits, can target with the pointer, shoot with B, charge up bomb attacks, dodge by shaking the remote, and even roll up into a Morph Ball shape, continuing the unexplained Metroid theme.

The other player flies the spaceship (again, shaped like Samus') around, trying to kill the two on the ground. The spaceship is controlled by the two circle pads and the right trigger (to raise and lower it), with the left trigger firing. Of all the games I played, this one has the most potential to be a real, fun thing ... but as it is, it's way too hard to control the spaceship. It moves around really slowly, and is therefore way too easy to shoot. I didn't see a single match that ended in the ship winning.

The "HD Experience" provided the true experience of changing the camera angles in an unplayable Zelda trailer. Link walks into a big castle, finds a super-detailed Gohma, and then, like, jumps around and fights with it. And you can choose whether to watch it on the big or small screen, which switches the on-screen controls to the other screen. Those controls include a "camera angle change" button and a "switch between day and night" button. And the (real-time) video is in HD, and looks great. Except when it's on the Wii U controller screen, in which case it merely looks great.

There was also New Super Mario Bros. Mii, which was seriously New Super Mario Bros., but with Miis. The Wii U controller simply displays the exact same thing as the TV screen. I'm guessing there's something else involved in multiplayer games, because Nintendo wouldn't use the Wii U controller in multiplayer NSMB games, opting instead for just four Wiimotes. The other demo was a "Japanese Garden Demo," which was beautiful footage of a bird flying around in a Japanese garden. It was pretty.

The good news is that if any of these sound cool, odds are pretty good that this stuff will end up as a Wii U Play collection. That's what happened to the Wii tech demos, anyway.

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