The Wii U has now been available in the United States for 10 days; it's garnered plenty of attention thanks, in part, to the unique gameplay provided by the GamePad tablet controller. Much of the hype, and rightfully so, has been directed towards the secondary screen which allows for not only innovative gameplay, but the ability to play separately from your television screen. There's much more, however, to the Wii U GamePad than just a secondary screen.
As pointed out in the latest Iwata Asks interview, the Wii U GamePad offers entirely new ways to immerse players in a game. This is highlighted by Ubisoft's latest game, ZombiU, which features a character that connects with the player directly through the built-in GamePad speakers.
"What amazed me was that the more we optimized the Wii U GamePad for survival horror, new features seemed to come out organically," explained ZombiU's story design director Gabrielle Shrager. "For example, even though you are usually very much alone when you play survival horror, we decided to include the Prepper who speaks to you like through a walkie-talkie, using the Wii U GamePad directly."
For those who haven't yet played the game, Prepper is an unseen character in ZombiU who guides players by giving advice on survival and self-sufficiency techniques.
"The Prepper speaks to you in a mysterious voice directly from the Wii U GamePad. There's a lot of interest in the fact that Wii U has two screens, but actually people may not be aware that you have another set of speakers on the Wii U GamePad too," added producer Guillaume Brunier. "The presence of these speakers is something that's just as groundbreaking as having two screens, and it's something that allows for a level of immersion that you didn't have before."
"I think that having to read text from the TV is an aspect of games that actually a lot of people hate, both developers and players," Shrager followed up. "Having not just sound come from the Wii U GamePad but also being able to read text on it is actually surprisingly important. The UI31 actually includes a very elegant animation for the page turning, it's just like reading an e-book."
Summing up the entire conversation, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata concluded, "The Wii U GamePad can do a lot of things. Playing around with it to find out exactly how you can make use of it in the context of a survival horror theme has helped you to clearly demonstrate its value, making it into something that feels immediate and dynamic."
In addition to the speakers, ZombiU utilizes the GamePad for an all-new, asymmetric multiplayer experience which you can learn more about here. Having played the Wii U briefly, ZombiU was one of the titles that definitely stood out to me. You can see our full review of the game here.