The two games that endeavor to utilize the Wii U GamePad in new and creative ways can be found on the far east side of Nintendo’s booth on the E3 show floor. You might even walk right by them if you didn’t know what you were looking for—but that’d be a shame, because the two televisions there display Shigeru Miyamoto’s most recent creations: Project Robot and Project Guard.
On paper, Project Robot is simple: build and customize your own robot, and then defeat other robots in fights by knocking them over. In action, it’s much, much more complex. You can customize every part of your robot using the Wii U GamePad. The head, the chest, the arms, the legs. Everything. You can also change the length and width of each piece. Doing so, however, will change how your robot balances, which brings us to the gameplay.
In battle, the Wii U GamePad displays the view from the cockpit, from which you can fire a laser at your enemies. The left shoulder button moves backwards, the right forwards. The analog sticks slowly extend your arms forward. The Gyroscope in the gamepad is used to move pivot your robot from the waist. In order to punch, then, you have to duck twist the gamepad to the side, tilt it, and extend the analog stick in just the right way.
At first, it feels like an updated version of the infamous QWOP running simulator, but after some time, when you actually start to imagine yourself as this incredibly heavy hunk of medal, the slowness of it all makes sense. I faced off against enemies of all sizes—enemies made of tires, frantic ones with a gunner on top, things that looked easy but things that easily obliterated me. Whatever. I just enjoyed falling over and shooting things with my laser.
The next game was Project Guard, a sort of tower defense game. Different robots will try and infiltrate your base to destroy its assets, and your turret cameras have to stop them. The television screen displays all 12 cameras, while the gamepad displays an overall map. When you see an enemy on one of the numbered screens on the television, you click on that camera and fire away.
There are several enemy types. Tanks, for example, will blow up your cameras. Bird-bots will dismantle them and carry them way. You have to be quick to dispatch of these threats, which isn’t easy, since some cameras can cover the same area, making the same enemy pop up on up to three of the screens at once. In short, it was chaotic fun.
These games remind me of the Miyamoto who brought homemade puppets to Nintendo to describe the games he wanted to create. If anything, it’s nice to see that he’s thinking of new ways that the gamepad-television screen dynamic can go beyond just being a Nintendo DS.