From the early days of Super Mario Bros. to the Wii phenomenon, Nintendo has clung fervently to its reputation as a family friendly entertainment company. Though the upcoming Wii U console boasts hardware at least on par with the current offerings from Sony and Microsoft, given the company’s reputation, third-party publishers are aware that success likely lays in creating experiences that appeal to both hardcore and casual gamers. Case in point: FIFA 13 for Wii U.
For the first time since the GameCube, EA Sports is delivering a soccer game to a Nintendo console based on its current rendering and physics engine. Though the game is more tied to FIFA 12 than the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of FIFA 13 (you won’t find first-touch controls or curving runs here), Nintendo fans still have a deep gameplay experience to enjoy with either the new GamePad or a classic controller.
For casual fans intimidated by the complicated collection of analog sticks, triggers, and face buttons on contemporary controllers, EA Sports is leveraging the GamePad’s touchscreen to create a complimentary experience that is less dependent on twitch skills. “If your dad can use a mobile phone, then he can play FIFA,” says producer Matt Prior.
A unique cooperative mode allows one player to use the touchscreen while another player is controlling the action on the television with another controller. On the touchscreen’s tab-based interface, you have several options unavailable to the player using the standard controller. You can make substitutions on the fly, tweak team strategy in real time, check out interactive game statistics, create man-marking assignments, watch the same gameplay stream as the television, or dictate off-ball behavior of your team’s players with the manager central tab. This interactive radar gives you a bird’s eye view of the action and allows you to send players on runs with the swipe of a finger. If you’re playing solo on the GamePad you can also use this functionality, which is especially useful during set piece plays.
If you’re using the GamePad during solo play, by holding up the controller you can use the touchscreen as a window onto the field during free kicks, which allows you to survey the field, line up kicks, and put the spin on ball more effectively. A new shooting mechanic also allows you to shoot by pressing in the left analog stick or shaking the controller. Once you do so an image of the goal appears on the touchscreen and you can point exactly where you want to shoot.
The touchscreen also comes in handy during halftime breaks. If your team needs a kick in the pants, you can praise, motivate, or criticize individuals or the entire roster. Players will react positively or negatively depending on whether or not your opinion rings of truth. Calling out a star defender who has marked well and won several balls won’t sit well with him, but if he’s having an off-day a pep talk may be just the motivation he needs to regain his form.
Soccer fans may be dismayed that the Wii U version of FIFA is built on old tech, but the unique GamePad controls go a long way toward servicing both the hardcore players and the more casual fans who often call Nintendo consoles home.