The lights are on
First, a note: It was said at the press conference and reiterated to me several times during my demo of Super Mario Bros. Mii. The Wii U "experiences" being shown at E3 are not games, and are just intended to show off the new console. This was relayed to me several times, so don't get too excited about the prospect of New Super Mario Bros. Mii, though I have to say that based on my time with the game...er...experience that a new 2D Mario platformer in HD would be a welcome addition to the Wii U library.The game itself is exactly as advertised -- it's basically new levels created in HD that looks and feel exactly as if they were lifted straight from New Super Mario Bros. Wii. As such, it's one of the "experiences" at the show that uses a fairly traditional, straight forward control scheme. You know the drill -- run, jump, grab the mushroom. You can still execute the spin move with motion control by quickly jerking the pad controller. There were five levels: a desert world, a cloud level with some great super bounce gameplay, a waterfalls area, and a windy level with huge moving blocks you must traverse.The frontend menus -- which allow you to play as Mario, Luigi, or a selection of pre-loaded Miis (I chose one that looked suspiciously like Oprah Winfrey in Mario overalls) -- can be negotiated via the touch screen, which is much easier than it is on the DS due to the larger screen size.The Nintendo representative that showed me the game said that it was made to show off the Wii U's ability to display games on both the TV screen and the controller screen. It worked seamlessly. The TV was a state of the art HDTV, and the game looked great, very crisp and clean with the classic Nintendo bright colors and vivid visuals. The bottom screen displayed the exact same action as the TV (though if your significant other wanted to watch cable, this would give you the option of switching inputs and continuing to play on the controller screen). While Nintendo has said the controller touch screen is not HD, it's a nice looking display. The colors were bright (though I notice some inconsistencies in the blacks) and at a level of resolution I'd put somewhere around that of the PSP's. At 6.2 inches, it's also much larger than you're used to in handheld gaming systems. Overall, playing on on the small screen was enjoyable.The controller itself took a little getting used to. It's very large compared to what gamers are used to. At first, having my hands so far apart from each other felt odd, but I got used to it pretty quickly. The d-pad (this demo was d-pad only) felt responsive, as did the buttons. The one thing I noticed was that -- despite the controller's large footprint -- it's exceptionally light. The only thing I question is how comfortable it will be over long gaming sessions, but due to my limited time with the game, that's something I'll have to wait to find out.Overall, I came away impressed with the dual screen functionality of the Wii U and the controller unit. And...the classic Mario 2D gameplay remains as fun as it ever was.
Email the author Matt Helgeson, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.