With the Wii U set to launch tomorrow in Australia (in just a few hours if you're headed to a midnight launch), it's probably a good time to take a look at just what games will be launching with the console. It's an impressive lineup, with a whole bunch of games from both Nintendo itself and a decent representation of third-party publishers.
Assassin's Creed III (Ubisoft)
First cab off the ranks is the latest one from Ubisoft, with new assassin Connor taking on the Templars in the American Revolution. From what we hear, it's a pretty solid port to the new platform (mini-map and weapon switching on the GamePad!), but if you've already checked it out, it's probably not worth picking up again.
Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition (Warner Bros)
This one, on the other hand, is an "enhanced" version of the Xbox 360 / PS3 release, tailor-made for the Wii U. Considered one of the best super-hero games of this generation (if not of all time), Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition is definitely worth a look, even if you don't think you're a fan of the dark knight. (Plus, it contains all of the previously-released DLC from the other platforms, so you get a bunch of extra content just for waiting.)
Ben 10: Omniverse (Namco Bandai)
Designed for a much younger target audience, we're admittedly not so familiar with the Ben 10 experience, but we're reliably told that it contains both action and aliens, in significant quantities. It has been designed for the Wii U, but we're not sure quite which bits. If you're looking for something for a younger gamer to explore on the new system, this one's not a bad bet.
Call Of Duty: Black Ops II (Activision)
Controversial opinion time: This is not really the platform for Call of Duty. Nintendo's never really been a solid platform for first person shooters, and - at this early stage - it looks like the Wii U is no exception.
However. There is one fairly significant benefit when it comes to multiplayer. One person plays the co-op campaign on the TV as usual, while the other plays their role entirely on the GamePad screen. No more confusing split-screen, no more confusion. Whether that's enough to compensate for the lack of other bits and pieces, we're not sure.
Darksiders II (THQ)
If you missed this one the first time around (which, let's face it, a lot of people did), then the Wii U is as good a platform to try it on as any. Even if you haven't played the original game, this one works perfectly as a standalone release, and the Wii U version throws in an extra 5+ hours of gameplay to keep you busy.
Plus, it's been designed for a bit of GamePad only play, so you won't have to stop playing just because someone wants the tv.
FIFA 13 (Electronic Arts)
EA has spent some time getting properly acquainted with the Wii U GamePad and have put together a game that uses a whole bunch of the console's special features. We're talking touch-screen tackling and passing, the option to shake the controller to bring up a menu, and the ability to give your team a pep talk through the built-in microphone. Other than that, it's a sports game, so you pretty much know what you're in for - and this is definitely one of the best.
Funky Barn (505 Games)
It's a bit of a casual game on console, which is always an interesting fit. "Create and play, your way", says 505 - plonk cows into the Milking Machine, chuck sheep into a Shearing Machine, rescue chickens that have fallen into the river... it's a farming sandbox, and you can control it with the power of touch, shake, tilt and even voice controls. Haven't heard much about this one, but it could be a bit of odd-ball fun.
Game Party Champions (Warner Bros)
Designed along the same lines as Wii Sports, this is another one that'll show off the Wii U capabilities and not much else. Packed with arcade, sports and (wait for it), party games, it's good if you want to learn the pros and cons of the GamePad, otherwise you could probably save your money.
Just Dance 4 (Ubisoft)
Three words: Puppet Master mode. This is one I've been keeping an eye on - the ability for the person with the GamePad to dictate and choose dance routines on the fly, which then must be copied by up to four other players.
This is in addition to the traditionally-great Just Dance gameplay - and while we all know the ways to cheat rhythm games on the Wii, some of the tunes in this new version will get your toes a-tappin' regardless.
Mass Effect 3: Special Edition (Electronic Arts)
Developed by Australian studio Straight Right, this one has also been optimised for the new platform. The GamePad touchscreen gives you easy access to all of Shepard's powers (and your squad mate's as well), while it's also the perfect spot for a mini-map. Again, if you want to walk away from the console, or let someone else watch tv, there's GamePad-only play for a more 'touching' experience.
But! There's something we'd like you to think about. You could buy this one - the third in the trilogy - for an all-new platform that may or may not have had all of the bugs ironed out. Otherwise, for roughly the same amount of money, you could buy the full Trilogy for either PS3 or Xbox 360. Just sayin'.
New Super Mario Bros U (Nintendo)
We've already shared Michael Irving's thoughts on this one - basically, if you're a fan of all things Mario, it's probably already on your list, and arguably even the reason you're buying the console.
Simply put, it's Mario. The new hardware brings with it a new gameplay opportunity - the ability to help (or hinder) your multiplayer opponents via a simple touchscreen block mechanic. Everything else: You know what you're getting.
Nintendo Land (Nintendo)
Nintendo Land has been designed to show off everything that the new console is capable of - a collection of minigames starring Nintendo favourites - which illustrate the Wii U GamePad peripheral, touch screen, asynchronous gameplay, and more than a bit of fun with your mates.
It's described as this console's "killer app", but whether it has the traction and overwhelming popularity of Wii Sports remains to be seen. Bundled in with the black Premium console certainly won't hurt its performance.
Rabbids Land (Ubisoft)
This is another one where you probably know whether or not you want it based entirely on the title. The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Rabbids have taken over an amusement park - and they're all set to invade the attractions. Your job? Join in!
Wii U-exclusive features include using the GamePad to "aim, title, shout, watch, steer, share, touch, draw" your Rabbids - and you can play asymmetrical multiplayer with the GamePad and a WiiMote or two. Want a more solo affair? Grab the GamePad and nick off: It's fully playable without a television.
Scribblenauts: Unlimited (Warner Bros)
Potentially the one that has me the most interested - Scribblenauts on a home console for the first time, in HD. Even if this was just a port of the original game/s, it would be pretty special, but 5th Cell have pulled out all the stops, giving Maxwell a deep, complex history and - excitingly - adding all sorts of bits and pieces to the game, meaning you can create and summon any object you can imagine, even constructing something yourself if it doesn't already exist.
Skylanders: Giants (Activision)
Aimed at the kids (mostly), Giants is - importantly - fully compatible with all existing toys. And there are super-sized giants (of course), and LightCore Skylanders that light up, and a bunch of other new characters. If you don't know what we're talking about, that's probably a suggestion that you should skip this one - if you're salivating, then by all means, snap it up.
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (SEGA)
One of the first racers to speed onto the new platform, we're not quite sure what to expect on Wii U. On the other platforms, it's quite a nifty little thing, racing across land, sea and sky in some impressively transforming vehicles. Drift around corners, hit boost for a little help with overtaking, and even do a barrel roll when things get extra-exciting. You may detect similarities with another console mascot outing, but before that one arrives, Wii U is Sonic's turf.
Sports Connection (Ubisoft)
This is arguably the "new" Wii Sports for the console - a multi-discipline titles featuring all sorts of different sporting endeavours - golf, baseball, soccer, tennis, football, even go-karting gets a look-in!
Play solo, team-up with your mates or compete against them in 5-person multiplayer matches: This one has been developed from the ground up explicitly for the new hardware, so it should show it off in a good light.
Tank! Tank! Tank! (Namco Bandai)
An "over-the-top battle party game", Tank! Tank! Tank! supports up to 4 players who are basically there to drive around in massive tanks and make the other dudes explode. It's the spiritual successor to Tokyo Wars, a mid-90s arcade game, which sees you battling each other, as well as tentacle beasts and giant crabs. And you can take a photo with the Wii U and make it your avatar. Swish!
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 (Namco Bandai)
Another port that's been tweaked and tucked to appear on the Wii U, this one is packed with new characters, new attack mechanics, new battle modes and new combos. We're yet to see any compelling reason why you should pick it on Wii U rather than any other platform, but if you're a fan of fightin', it could be a bit of fun. Two-person multiplayer, innovative features... and did we mention, it's Tekken?
Transformers Prime (Activision)
Based on a tv show that hasn't made it to Australia yet, Transformers Prime sets the Autobots on a quest to save the earth from the evil Megatron. You probably could have guessed that. There are 11 characters available across both factions, three human characters from the show, four-person multiplayer, and motion-sensing controls when steering Transformers in vehicle mode. Sounds like fun, if you're into that sort of thing.
Warriors Orochi 3: Hyper (Tecmo Koei)
More fighting! Warriors Orochi 3: Hyper adds Duel Mode and two new characters, as well as enhanced visuals when compared to the Xbox 360 and PS3. However, the frame rate is slower and there will be fewer enemies on the field due to the Wii U's processor speed.
It's got a "deeper story" than earlier games in the series, promising friendship, romance, betrayal and loyalty... and, of course, quite a lot of hack 'n' slash.
Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2013 (Ubisoft)
This one, we're guessing, does not have a deeper storyline. It's the latest in Ubisoft's exercise game franchise, and has been designed to help you set goals and then meet them in an "engaging and motivating fashion". If it hadn't been a standalone title for years, you could almost label this one the "new" Wii Fit.
The dark horse of the bunch, this is actually a sequel to a 1986 Ubisoft release, despite bearing very, very little resemblance to its Amstrad ancestor. The new one transforms the Wii U GamePad into a supreme zombie-hunting device, managing your inventory, mini-map, hacking combination locks and generally scanning your surroundings.
It's one of the best uses of the GamePad that we've seen to date, although early reports out of the U.S. have been remarkably polarised - people either love it or hate it. If you're a fan of the undead, George Romero, multitasking or a bit of survival horror, it's worth checking out - even if it's just for the novelty factor.
Whether you're after a new version of something you love, or a completely new experience, there's something on the Wii U for you. And remember, Nintendo has revealed a killer "launch window" lineup of games hitting the platform between now and March 2013, so if you can't find something you like, it might be worth just hanging around for a while.
I like video games and music and cups of tea and noodles and beagles and colour-cycling LEDs.
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Jimmy the Geek