So it turns out that Nintendo has a bunch of decent games for the Wii U. They just chose not to show people all of them. It's a question of priorities, really. I understand. Why make room in your E3 press conference for a brilliant new Platinum Games project when it's going to eat into precious time that Reggie could be using to do an impression of a randy French zombie? (It was meant to be randy, right?) Why tell anyone you've got a new WarioWare in the works, when you could be showing off Batman - a dazzling action adventure that absolutely everybody's already played?
Oh well. It's hard to stay upset when WarioWare's back, and - guess what? - WarioWare's back. The series' masterful blend of chaos and precision has been sorely missed from the 3DS's line-up so far, but at least it's going to make it to the Wii U. Rejoice!
Also, I've played four of the new games. Ski is the least interesting of the bunch, so let's get it over with quickly. It's all about Jimmy, and he's cel-shaded and racing across the ice to get to a disco. The skier uses the Game Pad, held vertically, to view proceedings from a top-down perspective: tilt to steer, don't miss the jumps, and would it kill you to stay out of the snow? The rest of the family follows the action on the telly, incidentally, and they get to see the whole thing nicely cut together, as if they're watching the best Winter Olympics ever. Go Jimmy! Disco is life!
Nice. Now what about Arrow? Arrow is basically Space Invaders. The Pad's vertical again, and you use it to pull back and then release a bow, aiming shots at nasty little Wario robots advancing towards you on the TV. Strike them to take them down, hit bombs to kill them en masse, and pay attention to armoured guys and a boss who has to have his shielding undone, one screw at a time. It's brilliant - bright, precise, and surprisingly stressful. It's got loads of lovely little bits of business in it, too. If a robot makes it across the map, for example, they'll appear on the touchscreen and you have to squash them as quickly as you can. Ick.
Shutter's up next. I could play Shutter for days. Mona's the star, and she's charged by her editor with tracking down a bunch of local criminals. She has mug shots of the guys she's going after, and the TV screen provides a street scene, littered with dozens of pedestrians. They're wandering around, peering out of windows, and generally providing a sea of faces for those crims to blend in with. The Game Pad, meanwhile, is your camera, and you aim it at the screen and then zoom in and out, snapping away when you see one of your quarries. It's a single-player game, but it works best with a pair of friends splitting duties: one to control the camera, the other to act as a spotter. Occasionally, you'll get new info about one of the suspects - they like to go for walks, say, or they tend to stay indoors. The technology works beautifully - motion-sensing, zoom, the whole deal - and there's a bonus for snapping a shot of a chicken! The next gen just arrived, if you ask me. Chickens.
More on Game & Wario
You can stop Mona about the wait.
Game & Wario announced after Nintendo's E3 conference.
Lastly, it's Apple, a game that plays a little like My First SpyParty. Chris Hecker's surprisingly tense indie title sees players blending in with a bunch of AIs to perform a series of tasks while a sniper tries to spot them and take them out with a single bullet. Apple's much the same thing, except nobody gets their brains splattered all over the walls. I'd like to think that Nintendo isn't pulling a Papa Quash here, incidentally; given the team's history of ingenuity, it seems safe to give them the benefit of the doubt.
It's absolutely lovely, anyway: the thief chooses a character to play as from a collection of potato-headed Charlies, and then uses the touchscreen to roam around a city stealing four out of five apples scattered about the place. If you're smart, you'll time your thefts to coincide with burps of steam from vents, or the reliable bulk of passing traffic. What's everyone else doing? Everyone else is watching the scene on the big TV, and trying to work out who, amongst the city's bustling throng, is their friend the thief.
Every thirty seconds the spotters get a glimpse of the rough area the thief is operating in, and at the end, they all get to try and pick him out of a line-up. It's smart and infuriating and surprisingly engrossing and it's just one of dozens of oddball challenges that should make Game & Wario pretty much unmissable.