Just One Controller for Wii U Games

You know that new console that Nintendo announced as the successor to the Wii? The oddly named “Wii U” with its touchscreen controller? The games you’ll play on it will only work with one, lonely controller.

Nintendo says that the reason for this is that the cost of the controller is so high that it would be unfair to expect consumers to purchase two of them. Which could be one of the worst decisions anyone in the video game industry has ever come up with.

When did “cost prohibitive to multiple controllers” stop being a fundamental design flaw? How is a modern console supposed to be competitive enough to thrive if only one person can ever play with it at a time? I can’t think of a single console in gaming history that got away with that. Didn’t the Atari 2600 even have two-controller games? (It’s been a while, I barely remember.)

To be fair, all of the existing Wii controllers and peripherals will work with Wii U. At E3, a video demo was shown of five players playing a single game; one was using the Wii U touchscreen controller, and the four others all used Wii Remotes. But is this really a viable model? If you or someone you know has a Wii U and you want to play together, it’s going to be just plain not fun to have to take turns with that touchscreen controller. And I wonder what this does for online multiplayer? If game developers can’t design their games to take advantage of local co-op or PvP modes in Wii U games, then will they be able to offer those modes for online players? More importantly: will they want to?

Nintendo seems to think they’ve got something revolutionary and novel enough to warrant this gamble. And make no mistake: that’s what it is. We’ll find out if it pays off sometime next year.

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Robin Parrish
@robinparrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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