New Super Mario Wii U
There wasn't much to this game other than demonstrating how the tablet functions like a regular controller, showing you the game running on both screens at the same time. It's big, but it works as a platform controller (and this is probably a hint that we'll be seeing more New Super Mario titles in the near future that feature Mii integration).
Chase Mii is a cat-and-mouse game where those playing on the big screen use regular Wii controllers while trying to track down a player whose character is shown on the tablet. The four chasers are running blindly through a maze, chasing after a Mario-looking character; if they catch him, they win. The Mario character has to avoid being caught, but since no one on the main screen can see what he's doing unless they actually find him, he has a distinct advantage.
The tablet user also has a full map and a top-down view of the battle, so he can see his pursuers even when they can't see him. He's basically playing a Pac-Man-like game of keep-away on his smaller screen while three friends try to track him down. It's fun from both sides of the chase, and it's a great example of having (in a way) two different games working simultaneously and congruently.
Battle Mii operates on a similar concept, but it's a little more action-oriented. In this demo, Samus-suited Mii avatars try to chase down the table user, who flies above them in a spaceship with tablet controls.
Only two players can join the full-screen actions, and they act like characters in any other Wii shooter. The tablet user, though, uses the analog sticks to control his ship and the gyroscope controls to aim. It's a gimmick that wouldn't normally be as comfortable all on one screen (though it would work fine as an online co-op game), and it shows off the fun of playing with a group on the couch. There aren't any minimaps, so while the tablet user has the advantage of being able to rise up and get a clear view of the battlefield, it also makes his position pretty hard to miss.
Also, I dominated both of the rounds of this I played, so I might have a slightly biased opinion. Winning makes everything a little more awesome.
What?s Up in the Air?
We don't know anything about the system's online capabilities (though they're promised to be robust), the extent of the system's backward compatibility, or even if you'll need (or even be able to use) more than one of the new controllers at a time. The system isn't coming out till next year, so that leaves lots of time to parse out info on the price and unique Wii U features for the flood of ports that will be coming soon.
The Wii U has a lot of potential, but do you need another (massive) controller sitting on your coffee table? I'm willing to give Nintendo the benefit of the doubt. But while it seems other consoles are going for smaller controllers -- or no controller at all -- Nintendo is taking a gamble with their big new pad.
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as What Is the Wii U? (cont.)