DEARBORN, Mich. —
After months of watching other people online play the Wii U, I finally was able to tackle a few games coming out for launch and afterward. But first, I had to get a feel for the controller - dubbed the GamePad - for the first time, and it felt great. I had no problems with the placement of the dual analog sticks or the buttons, and the 6.2-inch touchscreen looked crisp and clear.
The first game I played was Nintendo Land, one of the flagship titles for the Wii U. Taking place in a theme park, it features 12 mini-games based on various Nintendo franchises. It's pretty much the Wii Sports for this new console, serving as a way to demonstrate all the unique functions it has to offer. I tested out several of these mini-games, including Takamaru's Ninja Castle, where the touchscreen is used to launch shuriken at waves of enemy ninjas. With quick, effortless swipes from the GamePad, I was mowing down ninjas left and right.
Luigi's Ghost Mansion has one player controlling a ghost on the GamePad while other players must search for it throughout a maze with their normal Wii remotes. The twist is the player who's the ghost can see where everyone's at on the GamePad, while the ghost hunters on the television have to navigate through the darkness with their flashlights. Victory is achieved by either having the ghost knock down all the players or survive being caught until the time expires, or the players can win by catching the ghost a certain number of times. I played as the ghost, and it was intense fun scrambling around the level and surprising my fellow players.
In Donkey Kong's Crash Course, the GamePad is used to tilt a trolley on an obstacle course influenced by the Donkey Kong arcade game. This was the most difficult of the mini-games I played since I kept falling off while attempting to hop a gap. The analog sticks are used to activate levers and switches, and that takes time to get used to. I made it about halfway down the level before I ran out of tries. I'll need a lot more practice on this one.