Nintendo Holiday Showcase: It’s Not Just for Kids Anymore

‘Tis the season for awesome new games!

It may as well been Christmas morning as my brother and I entered the Fifth Social Club in Toronto for the Nintendo Holiday Showcase. Nintendo really put something together for us media-types this time; a much bigger venue packed with many popular games for us to play on the Wii U!

In front of us, there was New Super Mario Bros. U, Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, Ninja Gaidian 3: Razor’s Edge and many other games ready to go on Nintendo’s new system. On the other side, there was an area with at least 10 different Nintendo 3DS systems to try out.

However, the bread-and-butter of this event lay in the hands of Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Ubisoft’s ZombiU for the Wii U.

Unfortunately, everyone else thought so too.

New Super Mario Bros. 2

With many people waiting to play Black Ops II and ZombiU, we decided to start with the Nintendo 3DS section. There we stumbled upon a system with New Super Mario Bros. 2 on it.

Before I could start a game, the Nintendo attendant noticed it was two guys staring at one 3DS screen, so he suggested we play it co-operatively. On the other side there was another 3DS with the same game on it. After setting up the connection (which is super easy), it was Mario and Luigi taking on one of Bowser’s minions in an early castle.

It was hard not to laugh as we jumped off each other’s heads into enemies, traps and other deaths I probably could never repeat on purpose. Unfortunately, just as those deaths were funny at first in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, they got extremely annoying in later levels and more focused on beating the game. It’s very likely that will happen again with the 3DS version of Mario.

At points I was tempted to flick the DS (bad idea) in order to make Mario do a spinning jump or to bring my bubbled character closer to Luigi so he could pop it and allow me to come back into the game. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is very similar to its Wii counter-part, except you gain a hell of a lot more coins.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II

After wondering around a bit, the booth with Black Ops II finally opened and we jumped at the chance.

Due to tighter restrictions this time around, we couldn’t film any gameplay, so I’ll be as descriptive as possible.

The first thing we noticed was how easy it is to switch between the touchscreen GamePad and the GamePad Pro; just double-tap the “A” button and voilà, you can use your preferred controller. On that note, I actually liked using the touchscreen controller to play Black Ops II because it gives the player a nice graphical advantage.

The GamePad screen displays some vital information that is usually cluttering up the T.V. screen, like ammo and the map, but goes one step further. Loadouts can be changed much easier via a few taps on the screen and the same can be said for calling in Score Streaks. This means you don’t have to scroll through your streak rewards (and waste precious killing time); you just have to tap the one you want to use at the moment.

And the GamePad doesn’t stop there!

You can actually take Black Ops II off the T.V. and play it on the GamePad! Hear that? That’s my mind being blown!

Although you need to keep the GamePad in the same room as the Wii U due how the system transmits data to the controller, it still allows someone to keep playing Black Ops II and give up the T.V. screen. This is great for those that have only one shared T.V.

As a bonus, according to the official Black Ops II FAQ distributed to the media, you can use the GamePad screen for multiplayer games in your own home, but we never saw this in action.

It’s blasphemy to admit this, but the controls are the same as the Xbox 360 version of Black Ops. If you know the 360 controls, the Wii U version has no learning curve, except for the added screen.

After killing the opposing team (a bot team, yes you can do setup bot games in Black Ops II), and calling in a few Score Streaks, I pleaded to take some video but was ultimately refused.

ZombiU

After killing some NPC soldiers, we headed over to the system with ZombiU. This isn’t the first time I got to play Ubisoft’s survival horror game, so the GamePad felt natural in my hands. Being comfortable with the controls allowed me to focus on the game’s story, and not having to rely on the on-screen control prompts. It’s nice to just know.

Being able to play for a good 20 minutes (and I don’t think I reached anywhere near the half-way point in the demo) gave me a great sense on what Ubisoft is trying to do with this game. You really need to survive; it’s about taking out the right zombie and checking everything.

At one point there was a zombie sitting in a corner of a room, seemingly not dangerous. Upon scanning him with a gizmo in my inventory, he was in-fact undead and apparently taking nap. A few smacks with my cricket bat let him take that nap forever.

Later on in the demo, there were three zombies in the distance and, of course, in my way. With the assistance of Ubisoft’s Jay Acevedo, I picked off one zombie with a backpack. Apparently in post-apocalyptic London, they love to carry around a backpack full of explosives. I’m not one to complain since it worked in my favour. The explosion took out the zombie’s other two buddies and the coast was clear to continue.

ZombiU is a true survival game, and one I’m looking forward to the most. The game will make you think about your next move, meanwhile making sure you’re always aware of your surroundings.

The end of a great day

It was over before we knew it, and after some good-byes we headed back on the subway for the ride home.

It was great meeting some of Toronto’s known gaming personalities, some new ones and, of course, playing the Wii U!

We give your greatest thanks to Nintendo for inviting and hope to see many more to come!

The Wii U console launches in North America on November 18, 2012.

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