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Approaching Wii U's GamePad like a 'toy' in Madden NFL 13

Bags Hooper

Madden NFL 13 on Wii U may lack the Infinity Engine, which brought stronger collisions and dynamic animations into the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, but the console's gamepad fills that void with a tablet-drive, play calling system. The only problem, EA tells Joystiq, was getting players to want to use the new control system.

"A challenging thing at the beginning was getting people to actually want to touch the screen," says Yuri Bialoskursky, lead designer on Madden 13 for Wii U. "They would just stare at it blankly and not interact with it. We had to come up with a way to make it like a toy, essentially – make you want to mess around with it."

The Wii U GamePad lets players navigate their playbook through the gamepad's touch screen, allowing them to tap and drag to the right play. More importantly, players can draw offensive and defensive hot routes right on the screen. Offensive and defensive linemen are represented by yellow circles, while the hot routes you draw are represented by a red line. You can also play in "detached mode" and play Madden entirely on the WiiPad, freeing your television for any other piece of entertainment, like watching real life football.

Gallery: Madden 13 Wii U (10/11/12) | 5 Photos

The WiiPad uses resistive touchscreen tech, similar to the DS or 3DS, adding latency to received input. However, using a finger to draw hot routes – or dragging defensive players over to the quarterback to setup a quarterback spy – presents a "faster" and more "customizable" method of play calling than what is currently available.

"You can see the gaps in the defense – change your route and take advantage of those gaps ... You can do multiple assignment changes in a matter of seconds," Bialoskursky added.

With the play clock ticking away, it takes some time to get used to Wii U's exclusive play calling feature.

This does present a problem for local competitive play. As launch games for the Wii U will only support a single GamePad, the player with the new controller will have a natural "advantage" over his opponent.

The development team "mitigated" the local-play advantage by allowing you to "turn off all of the touch screen features on the GamePad" to "level the playing field." This way, opponents can call their plays at the same time.

As for the Infinity engine, Bialoskursky says that it "is a very important part of the Madden franchise" and "it's something that we desperately want in the game." He's hopeful that it will be incorporated into future version of Madden on Wii U. However, the question remains: how many iterations of Madden will Nintendo's new console get before that major change is made?

Bags Hooper is a writer based out of Brooklyn, New York. He has contributed to multiple outlets, including BuzzFocus, USA Network, Showtime's Pop Tudors, Monsters & Critics and FHM. You can follow him on Twitter at @BagsHooper.

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