December 31st marks two years since I've picked up two consoles that I've gotten much enjoyment from, the PlayStation 3 and the Wii U. The PS3 is a great machine, but I've spent far more time on the Wii U and I have no problems coming out and saying its one of my favorite consoles. The GamePad is quite the comfy controller, though my initial reactions to it made for a rocky start.
The GamePad is certainly one of the biggest standard controllers to come with a game console. I think only the Virtual Boy controller comes close to rivaling the GamePad in size, at least when it comes to Nintendo controllers. It wasn't that I found the button placement or control sticks odd. No, that stuff was perfectly fine. The GamePad's screen for whatever reason caused, me some nasty eye strain. It was so bad that I couldn't endure looking at it for more than a few minutes before I had to put it down and look away. Even booting up the system with it was too much for me.
The eye strain that the GamePad gave me made me quite thankful that the Wii U worked with Wii controllers. Even better, most Wii U games could be fully playable with the Wii Remote alone. For a long time, this was my controller of choice when I played Super Mario 3D World. Running around in 3D didn't feel awkward at all on the small Wii Remote control pad, but I suppose that's a testament for Nintendo's excellence with controls in gaming. Analog sticks had been the required method of movement in 3D Mario titles since Super Mario 64 so it was a bit strange that Super Mario 3D World allowed us to use the Wii Remote control pad for movement. It was a very welcome option, nonetheless, one I fully embraced. Then I noticed Captain Toad's levels could only be played using the GamePad, which was Nintendo's way of making sure players not sold on their new device would have to spend some time with it. At first I avoided these but the game made sure I was quick to realize that collecting those green stars was a big deal and each of Captain Toad's puzzle style levels contained no less than five green stars. Reluctantly, I picked up the GamePad and took on the unwanted eye strain to get those first few worlds worth of green stars that only Captain Toad could pick up. I had to use the GamePad,
|Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker will only work with the|
GamePadand I cannot imagine playing the game without it.
It bummed me out for a while that the GamePad had the effect on me that it did. While it wasn't as bad as the 3DS' 3D effects, it was enough to hinder what should have initially been fun experiences. I never have gotten over the strain the 3DS causes me when the slider is on even slightly and I feared the strain from the GamePad would be something that continued for a long time to come. Fortunately, this was not the case.
The more time I spent with Super Mario 3D World, the eye strain began to lessen. I noticed that I was looking down at the GamePad as I played the Captain Toad levels and soon enough, I'd abaondoned the Wii Remote altogether when playing Super Mario 3D World in favor of the hulking GamePad. This also became my go-to controller for Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze since I wouldn't have to bother with shaking the Wii Remote for certain moves. I was actually disappointed to find out that I couldn't use the GamePad as a controller in New Super Mario Bros. U when playing alone.
|Super Mario Maker is easily one of the best games to|
put the GamePad to great use.
I never did like using the Wii Remote in Mario Kart Wii so the GamePad was a perfect fit for me when I picked up Mario Kart 8. Regulating the map to the GamePad was a very nice touch as it meant there was something less to clutter the screen. making the first HD Mario Kart even more enjoyable.
Developers may not be using the GamePad to its full potential but Nintendo has made some great use out of it. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse was made with the GamePad in mind. Drawing those brush strokes wouldn't feel right with the Wii Remote or a Nun Chuck. On the downside, anyone playing as Kirby has to look at the GamePad and not partake in the game's superb HD clay graphics.
Super Mario Maker is another one of those games that makes the GamePad an absolute joy to use. Any game that involves level editing has to have a good user interface and not only is Super Mario Maker's so simple, anyone can use it, but the GamePad makes placing the desired objects to creating your levels headache free. The typical act of dragging and dropping tools in level editor could not be easier and is so incredibly satisfying. Its the kind of game that makes me happy that Nintendo went with such an unorthodox control scheme for the Wii U because there are some games that just wouldn't work, or wouldn't work nearly as well without the GamePad.
I've really been enjoying the off screen functionality of that the GamePad offers. most Wii U games support this feature and that's great for when one of my favorite shows is on but I still want to keep my game running or someone wants to watch something on my TV. I can tinker with levels on Super Mario Maker, play NES games while laying comfortably on my bed or the sofa, or watch some Netflix or Hulu in the palm of my hands.
All this and the GamePad is a great controller, too. Yes, it is bigger than most controllers out there and because of that, it has some weight to it. Despite this, it feels really comfortable. How did I ever game without this thing? I love you, GamePad and I'm sorry we fought in the early days.