Touching Over Waggling

Was one slightly more innovative than the other? Hint: Yes.

By Aaron Roberts. Posted 10/13/2011 09:00 4 Comments     ShareThis

Touching Over Waggling Edit (Aaron Roberts)

The Wii console was lauded as a Revolution in gaming– a piece of hardware that would change the way we looked at and played games forever. Now, to an extent, that’s true. If it wasn’t, then every other console maker in the game wouldn’t have followed suit, from Kinect (I thought it was called “Kinetic” at first) to the almost-complete-ripoff-except-for-the-colored-ball-thing that is PlayStation Move. So to say that the Wii console has had no effect on the gaming landscape would be a complete and total fallacy.

That being said, even though it’s a home console, Wii has not ushered in as many revolutions– pun may or may not be intended– in gaming as its handheld brother. And here I’m talking about the one that plays games in good old-fashioned 2D. Sorry, I mean the one that ONLY plays games in standard 2D, as Nintendo wants us to remember that your 3DS can do that, too.

The above paragraph was a completely roundabout way of saying that Nintendo DS was a far more revolutionary and important gaming system than was the Wii itself. That’s a blanket statement, but looking at each system’s best software empirically, it’s pretty easy to see how the handheld stacks up game after game showing the worth of its “gimmick,” while we may see less with the home console. I’m going to stack them up on a game by game basis and see which ones come out on top.

And, yeah, on both systems, it’s not at all that difficult to find games that don’t use any of either system’s respective features, games like Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, New Super Mario Bros, Muramasa: The Demon Blade, or A Boy And His Blob, games that are still fantastic gems nonetheless. We’re going to ignore those games, for the most part, and focus on ones that do, in fact, use touching or pointing or wiggling or what have you. Also, games that use extra peripherals, like Wii Fit or Guitar Hero: On Tour are likewise disqualified from mention as they use more than the standard equipment.

First Heat: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess vs. Elite Beat Agents

These games have nearly nothing to do with one another besides the publisher. But let’s look at how they use their respective hardware, rather than what genre each are in. Twilght Princess featured new motion-based controls, greatly improving upon the way that Link aims and shoots, and while the sword is linked directly to the Remote itself, shaking it causes Link to swing.  It was a whole new way to play a Zelda game.

Elite Beat Agents, rather, is a completely new type of game (although not genre), one that has never existed before. Unless you count Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan!, which we aren’t here since it didn’t leave Japan. Yeah, there had been rhythm games before, but nothing that controlled or had presentation like this.

Also, since Twilght Princess technically could have been controlled with a GameCube controller, and– err, wait, it actually WAS. Never mind, then.

Second Heat: Metroid Prime 3: Corruption vs. Nintendogs: Dachshund and Friends

Yeah, if you chose between these two games, there probably isn’t much question which one you’d prefer. That being said, Nintendogs really did define itself as one of the DS’s breakout hits, and helped redefine what a pet sim was. Not so much in the toys or activities, but in the ability to interact with the pet in a way that you just didn’t have before.  While the voice commands were spotty at times, with the touching the dog and being able to tell it to do stuff, Nintendogs was a hit in a big way for Nintendo.

Now, Corruption is fantastic, as well, and it had an updated take on the first-person Metroid controls, which in this humble one’s modest opinion, were in desperate need of revision. Other than the motion-based shooting, though, the only major addition to the game was voice acting for the non-player characters, and that certianly doesn’t fall under the “new control” category.

Final Heat: The World Ends With You VS. Super Mario Galaxy

Super Mario Galaxy is one of the best games ever. That’s not up for debate. Right here, we’re only talking about how the game uses the system’s controls. And it does use those controls, doesn’t it?  You shake the Wii Remote to make Mario spin, which can help him jump just a TAD higher.  Also, you can point at Star Bits to collect them. That’s pretty much it. Super Mario Galaxy also adds the mechanic of having completely self-contained planets which Mario (or Luigi) can run 360 degrees around, which is really cool, but does not have anything to do with controlling the game, per se.

On the other hand we have The World Ends With You. I don’t really want to get in an argument about which game is better or worse, since they are clearly both amazing, but when it comes to an innovative control standpoint, I think the edge has to go with Neku and his friends. This game has a battle system that features two different characters fighting two separate battles simultaneously, yet controlled by the same player, one with the touch panel, the other with the buttons. This dichotomy was so complicated that only the hardiest of Power Players could handle it, and several unabashed wussies turned on the Auto-Play function. Yes, I am calling you out. Unless you aren’t one, of course.

Even though several Wii games were great, and even innovative, it seems like the DS as a system had more games that, well, changed the way we played games. Remember that in 2004, the DS came out with a touch-based way to play games that predated the iPhone, iPad, and even most touch-compatibile phones, and as portable gaming becomes more relevant, it’s clear that Nintendo once again led the way for the industry with its dual-screened handheld. The first one, I mean.

4 Responses to “Touching Over Waggling”

  • 381 points
    Hyawatta says...

    Objection!

    I agree that touch was more innovative than motion, but you should have used better examples that are more representative of the benefits of these features.

    Wii Sports vs WarioWare Touched!

    Wii Sports Resort vs Brain Age 2

    Red Steel 2 vs Kirby’s Canvas Curse

    Skyward Sword vs Super Scriblenauts

    Conduit 2 vs Prime Hunters

    These are just off the top of my head, but let’s compare the best examples of motion vs the best examples of touch. Your DS examples for touch controls are good, however, the Wii examples you chose for motion controls would be poor even if you compared them to using buttons. We have seen Zelda, Metroid, and Mario without using motion to enhance the gameplay. The examples should be from games that use motion controls as a focus, not just an enhancement.

    Thumb up 0
  • 393 points
    James Stank says...

    But that’s the problem, and what really shows that motion control is a gimmick compared to touch control (which still may be a gimmick, but a vastly more popular one), that the number of games that had amazing innovative touch screen controls outnumber the innovative motion control games by a huge margin. There were DS games that could only be possible with that scheme, while most Wii games would have been quite fine with a traditional controller.

    Thumb up 0
  • 7 points
    Katharine Byrne says...

    It’s interesting though that despite the obvious take-up on touch controls as a whole, there hasn’t been as much blatant copying of the types of games you mentioned (unless I’m being stupidly ignorant here). To me at least it seems like specific types of motion controls have spawned a greater number of clones than various types of touch control have done (perhaps because pointing and clicking and flicking is easier to implement than something like The World Ends With You‘s battle system).

    I can also think of plenty of DS games that, like most Wii titles, haven’t really pushed the boundary with their unique control scheme at all. Each console clearly has its own handful of innovative games, but most DS games I own can be controlled just as well (or better in some cases) using the standard buttons as opposed to the touchscreen.

    Thumb up 0
  • 225 points
    wombatguy880 says...

    The problem was that as market leader from generations past the ds was supported from day one by third parties. t also was relatively low cost to support compared to the big dog home consoles so many independents also took an interest and created truly original content. This differs from the wii in that the gamecube was nintendos worst selling console from the previous generation and nintendo was going with something different from what was traditional so 3rd parties didn’t know what to make of it. Nintendo made it work with wii sports but it took forever for 3rd parties to even get serious and arguably by the time they did it was too late. Resident Evil 4 is still one of the best 3rd party titles on the system and though it’s a GC port, it still shows how important a pointer or even waggle can be for putting you into the experience.

    I don’t think your argument in the article is valid. Is waggle the future? nope, but can we honestly discount all those ideas that aren’t waggle because it’s popular to do so. Swinging a sword is still better then press A or tap the screen and direct pointing is still supreme for most people who want gaming to get a little more logical. The first year of the Wii. I put a spin on a bowling ball, I swung a sword, I choked a person, I threw someone into a fire, I surfed the internet from a couch, I body slammed an opponent, and I boxed and defended. There was a lot of potential and Nintendo has shown some of that off but the reality is without the 3rd parties making any effort we instead only saw the lesser companies making shoddy versions of wii sports type ideas which was just sad.

    Most importantly, I think both ideals are keen for the success of the wiiU. I like the screen but since we know the system can and will support the wiimotes for multiplayer gaming then I think Nintendo should include both controllers in the package and market it as such. This way we can maybe see these 3rd party ports make actual use of the best tech for their games. I like a touch screen for a RTS, a puzzlequest update, or for typing on the internet or in-game but I think I honestly would like to see a future Ninja Gaiden or GTA or Godfather sequel utilize the wiimotion plus in a way that we just haven’t seen on the wii itself due to lackluster 3rd party support.

    Thumb up 1

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