Writing

Software, technology, sysadmin war stories, and more. Feed
Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tripped up by the Wii U

I bought a Wii U a couple of months back when it first came out. I got it primarily because there was a new traditional Mario game: platforms and jumping and such, and none of this 3D stuff. It also served as a handy way to replace my aging Wii which made a horrible racket any time it was running with a disc inside.

I really only played that new Mario game (NSMBU) at first. Once I finished that, I got a hold of this weird thing called Little Inferno. You basically buy a bunch of stuff and then burn it in different combinations to make other things happen, plus there's a story evolving as this is going on. It was easy enough to download and play.

This system appealed to me because I could just keep the gamepad controller on a charger by my desk and turn it on when I felt like a quick game of something. Then when it was time to go back to work, I could put it away. I didn't even have to get the TV involved, so that was a definite plus. Being able to do everything on the gamepad was great.

So, a couple of weeks later, one of my friends said I should try this zombie game which had been out for a while. Apparently it was now some kind of free preview and it was just a matter of downloading it and starting it up. I'm not big on the whole zombie genre, but I decided to humor him, and so I grabbed the gamepad and started the download and then went back to working on something else.

Much later, after it had finished installing, I picked the gamepad back up and started this new game. It told me I had a limited number of plays, but what do I care? It went on and did nothing in particular for a while, and then ultimately dropped me into this interface which kept trying to make me tap something or drag something. It was actually really obnoxious in how demanding it was, so I deliberately did something else just to see what it would do.

Nothing much happened, so I did what it was telling me to do and it stopped getting in my way. That's when it got weird. I had heard this was some kind of game where you walk around through a place that's full of zombies and it's basically one hit and you're dead... or undead, I guess.

The thing is, I couldn't actually walk around. I could bring up some kind of map and there were these little blips which could be tapped and "scanned" somehow, but it was like I wasn't able to actually move anywhere. I tried all of the buttons, the sticks, and even the usual directional buttons. I even started trying different combinations: hold this and push that. Nothing happened.

I wrote it off as something that I clearly did not get and told my friend it didn't work for me. When I related my tale of not being able to move, he couldn't figure out what I was talking about.

A day or two went by, and I guess it had been bouncing around in the back of my head, since I got an idea: what if I needed to turn on the TV? I went back into the game with the TV on this time, and sure enough, there it was. They had one thing on the TV and something totally different (and basically useless) on the gamepad.

Nothing had prepared me for this. I had been treating the gamepad as just a smaller, nicer instance of whatever my TV was showing. It was much easier to play on the gamepad, so I had been leaving the TV off. NSMBU worked this way, and Little Inferno did too. This zombie game did not.

This tripped me up. I wonder if other people will go through the same thing. Oh, I'm sure lots of "real gamers" will scoff at me and will call me stupid, but that's just fine. I've seen "real gamers", and I'm quite happy to not be one, thanks.

The Wii U was effectively a newer, nicer, bigger DS based on how I had been using it. It never occurred to me that it would be used as anything but a mirror of the TV screen once the setup was done.