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Wii U hands-on with third-party titles: Zombi U, Rayman Legends, more

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Project P-100

© Nintendo


Nintendo systems are always best known for their quality first-party titles from its beloved franchises. And while Nintendo plans New Super Mario Bros U, Pikmin 3 and Nintendo Land for the Wii U's launch, third-party studios are also stepping up to deliver a strong lineup.

From anticipated sequels and Nintendo console debuts to surprising new titles built from the ground up for the Wii U's unique controller, at E3 we got the chance to go hands-on with an impressive array of games that will arrive during the Wii U's launch window.

> Wii U hands-on with Nintendo's line-up: Mario Bros. U, Pikmin 3 and more

Zombi U

'Zombi U' screenshot
Little known fact: Ubisoft's first game ever was a Dawn of the Dead-inspired Amstrad CPC game called Zombi. The publisher is now bringing back its first IP on the Wii U with ZombiU, and offers a unique twist on first-person horror.

The Wii U's dual analogue sticks provide conventional first-person shooter controls, while the controller's touch screen can be used to scan the surroundings for supplies. There is no pause button, so even managing your inventory on the touch screen can build tension with the fear of zombies around every turn.

In a unique twist, when your character dies he becomes another zombie as you take control of a new survivor and must defeat your former self to regain supplies. In the final game, online leaderboard rankings will be determined by how many survivors died along the way.

'Zombi U' screenshot
There is also an asynchronous multiplayer mode, allowing one player to control the zombie horde in a match of 'capture the flag'. As one player runs and shoots through the stage capturing flag points, another player uses the Wii U control pad to place zombies on the map using the touch screen.

There are four zombie varieties at the player's disposal, which can capture flags for points or hunt the other player at varying speeds. Between its single-player campaign and multiplayer modes, ZombiU was the most fully featured Wii U game shown at E3, and is sure to be one of the system's biggest titles at launch.


Project P-100

Probably the biggest surprise on the Wii U was Project P-100, an over-the-top action title from Platinum Games. Players control a swarm of superheroes battling an alien robot invasion.

'Project P-100' Wii U screenshot
The swarm of heroes actually powers your attacks, as they join together and transform into a giant fist, sword or gun with a simple gesture on the controller's touch screen.

Civilians can be rescued and turned into more heroes throughout each level, which can unlock new abilities to find hidden secrets. In addition to powerful attacks, in the E3 demo we were able to turn the swarm of heroes into a ladder to climb buildings and a glider vehicle to cross large chasms.

More puzzles like these will help to break up the brawler gameplay, making the Wii U launch window title feel like a cross between Pikmin and Castle Crashers.


Rayman Legends

After last year's stellar Rayman reboot, Ubisoft is following up with Rayman Legends this year. While it's still unclear whether the game will be a Wii U exclusive or not, the Wii U will at least have an exclusive feature in the new playable character, Murphy.

'Rayman Legends' screenshot
The flying frog-like creature is a fifth playable character controlled entirely with the touch screen. As Rayman runs and jumps through the level, Murphy can cut ropes, lift objects and solve various puzzles by tilting the controller to unlock new paths.

And while he can't fight enemies directly, he can at least pick them up and hold them in mid-air as easy targets for the co-operative companion.

Ubisoft told us during our demo that separate co-operative levels would be in the game specifically designed for Murphy and at least one other player. It was also hinted that a solo player may be able to control Rayman with the analogue stick and bring out Murphy with the touch screen only when needed, though this feature wasn't shown at E3.


Scribblenauts Unlimited

Wii U is the perfect system for a game like Scribblenauts Unlimited, as an audience can gather around the television and shout out word suggestions to solve puzzles in creative and entertaining new ways.

Gaming Review: Super Scribblenauts
The new game is now spread across an interconnected world map rather than the single-screen challenges of previous games, allowing for more elaborate puzzles and a story with a full cast of characters.

Also new is the creation mode, allowing players to define any word they'd like with surprising detail in both appearance and behaviour. Using any object in the game as a base, players can change the size, shape, colour and pattern, as well as adding or swapping out parts.

Players then get access to the same scripting tools the developers use when creating the game's dictionary, allowing you to alter the creation's behaviour in a vast array of options - including whether it is friendly, wearable as a hat, on fire, and how it interacts with any other object or creature in the game.

With the addition of the creation mode, the possibilities seem to actually be endless this time, even if the developers hadn't thought of it.


Tank! Tank! Tank!

Game titles don't get much more straightforward than Namco Bandai's Tank! Tank! Tank!. The multiplayer arcade port put players behind the wheel of the titular vehicles, which are controlled by tilting a Wii remote like a steering wheel or with the analogue sticks of the Wii U control pad.

Tank! Tank! Tank!
A free-for-all deathmatch mode pits players against each other in a colorful city collecting massive cannons and missile barrages as power-ups. A co-operative mode was also on display where players had to defeat a swarm of giant mechanical spiders.

Before each match, the Wii U control pad's built-in camera is used to snap a picture of each player for their avatar, but otherwise it doesn't make much use of the Wii U's unique features.

The tanks also use auto-aim to determine a shot's height, which made spiders especially difficult to hit as they climbed up and over buildings. As simple, mindless multiplayer fun though, Tank! Tank! Tank! gets the job done.


Trine 2: Director's Cut

Trine 2: Director's Cut will be one of the first downloadable titles available on Wii U, and the only one shown at E3. The puzzle platformer can be played entirely with conventional analogue sticks and buttons, but new touch screen controls improve on the action.

Trine
Rather than using the right analogue stick, players can use the touch screen to use each character's special skills. The knight's shield as well as the thief's arrows and grappling hook can be aimed simply by tapping on the screen.

Meanwhile, the wizard's spells can now be drawn to quickly and easily create boxes, planks, and levitate objects across the room. Touch screen buttons have also been added, making it easier to switch between characters and their equipped weapons.

True to its name, Trine 2: Director's Cut will include a new five-level story campaign, travelling from the desert to snowy mountains and adding new skills for each character. Multiplayer will also be supported both locally and online for three players, as well as a Wii U exclusive four-player 'Magic Mayhem' mode which wasn't shown at E3.

While Trine 2 may have already released on other systems, Frozenbyte says the best version will be on Wii U.


Just Dance 4

The next iteration in Ubisoft's best-selling dancing series will feature over 40 new tracks to boogie along with in your living room. And while Nintendo's next console won't be the only system to play it on, Wii U owners will get to experience an exclusive party mode created just for the Wii U control pad.

In the exclusive Puppet Master mode, up to four players can dance along with the television while a fifth player plays the puppeteer on the touch screen. Tapping dance styles such as 'jazzy', 'funky' and 'crazy' on the touch screen changes the moves on the TV, allowing players to choreograph their own dance routines for their friends.


Batman: Arkham City: Armored Edition

Batman is back on Wii U with Arkham City: Armored Edition. In addition to all existing DLC from the game's other versions, Wii U features the exclusive armour suit. The new suit gives Batman a new look, and builds energy with every hit he takes.

'Batman Arkham City - Armoured Edition' screenshot
Unleashing that energy activates B.A.T. mode, giving Batman a temporary strength boost and making the combat more forgiving for those who don't quite master the timing for elaborate combos.

The Wii U control pad's screen now features an area map, as well as easy access to Batman's inventory. A number of gadgets have also been shifted to the control pad's screen, such as explosive gel, the remote batarang and the electric charge gun.

Explosive gel works well, allowing players to tap which targets to detonate right on the map. However, using the remote batarang and electric charge gun can be jarring switching between looking at the television and down at the controller's screen.

It's also worth noting that the visuals have taken a noticeable hit on Wii U, with textures significantly more blurry than other versions of the game.


What are your most anticipated games from the Wii U line-up? Add a comment to the space below!

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