Best of 2012! Hand Me Downs: Wii U’s Porting Crisis

With so many multi-platform games flooding Wii U’s launch window, Lewis asks whether we’re doomed to another generation of dodgy ports.

By Lewis Hampson. Posted 01/04/2013 15:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
This story was selected as one of our best from 2012. It was originally published on 26th October, 2012 during Issue 125: We’ll Be Coming Back.

Nintendo’s next foray into the console market they’ve dominated since 2006 will soon be upon us. The question of what games to purchase alongside your shiny, new Wii U will no doubt be foremost in your thoughts. Alongside the exclusive delights of New Super Mario Bros. U and ZombiU are ports of games that have either been released for quite sometime like Mass Effect 3 and games that are newly released like FIFA 13. Add to this all the “launch window” titles and you have yourself a rather nice selection to look forward to over the coming months. Or do you?

Since Wii U’s official announcement and subsequent development kits being sent out to third party developers, there has been a glut of rumour and speculation as to just what Wii U is capable of in terms of power when compared to the likes of PS3. Some reports say Wii U’s capabilities exceed that of what is currently available and some say the opposite. Truth be told it will be hard to know exactly where we stand until we are playing the damn thing for ourselves and seeing the HD beauty in all its glory.

One of Nintendo’s supposed angles when attracting developers to Wii U was the ease of porting games that are currently available, to their new console, and judging by the amount of ports we are seeing n the launch window, this tactic seems to be paying dividends. But do these ports truly show the power of Wii U? The short answer is… we don’t know!

Nintendo will no longer get the “lesser” port when it comes to multi-platform games, but surely we should expect a little more from a new console?

Of course, hearing Tuesday’s news that Assassins Creed III will be exactly the same as its PC and console brethren will either be a relief or slight cause for concern depending on your viewpoint. Personally, I would have thought that a game pushed so heavily by Ubisoft would have been at least technically better on Wii U (I’m talking draw distances, more people onscreen at once, etc.) than its competitors, particularly the console versions. I just don’t think it is acceptable we should be shouting from the rooftops that Wii U has a game that is on par with a seven year old console. Now this may be down to the fact that ACIII is an early addition to the Wii U’s library and I’m sure in time the ports from PS3 and 360, will indeed improve, but just how much time do Nintendo have?

With the PlayStation 4 and “Nextbox” set to be revealed at E3 2013, can Nintendo really afford to be lumbered with lazy third party ports of games that really should be taking advantage of brand new up-to-date hardware? Yes, I’m aware that Wii U’s GamePad controller will add some sort of novelty function to these games, but let’s not forget, these same titles have and will work just as well on the other consoles.

For instance, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 seems to be one of the early examples of how to get a port right. Whilst it may not differ too much in terms of graphics, the extra touches such as the Mario Bros costumes show a real effort on behalf of Namco to bring something different to the Wii U port. Just seeing those mushrooms super-size the Tekken cast brought a genuine smile to my face, and gave me a reason to consider buying this version over the others, even if I won’t be able to play my friends online like I would if I bought the PS3 version. It’s little details like this that can make all the difference, and at these early stages the signs seem to point towards inconsistencies in terms of effort put into ports for Wii U dependent upon the developer and development time they have had with the system.

A touch of Nintendo magic goes a long way…

Let’s take FIFA 13 as another example. The Wii U version will be missing many of the key components to the game including the first touch control system, complete dribbling, and also finer details of the player impact engine, all of which are present and accounted for in the other console versions. The team working on the title (which incidentally is not EA Vancouver) have put this down to the short development time they have had, which is unavoidable in some respects, but given the importance of such a title (at least in Europe), unforgivable in others. More worryingly, the Ultimate Team mode has been left out completely due to “Nintendo’s online being in its infancy”, which isn’t exactly the most effective way of declaring your faith in an untried online service.

To be honest, it’s hard to draw any concrete conclusions from these types of development shenanigans. Wii U will more than likely find it’s feet when it comes to ports, and will hopefully begin to show its true colours by outshining its rivals, giving the wider gaming public a real reason to own Wii U– because so far, there’s not much there for the core gamer that they can’t find much cheaper elsewhere. Time is also a big factor here. The time will inevitably come when Wii U simply can’t keep up with new, bleeding edge technologies that are already in production, and we’ll be thrown back to the days of Wii with the U’s only selling point being its lower price tag. We may not want to admit it, but this will completely defeat the purpose of the whole universal “for everyone” philosophy that Nintendo are trying to push with their new system.

The mental scars left behind by some simply awful Wii ports are also yet to heal, so maybe this is also clouding my judgement a little. But there is no way you cannot look to the past when the future looks eerily similar to the years gone by. Having superior ports over the next year will no doubt help Nintendo gain a major foothold in the core games market, but games that are “exactly the same” just doesn’t cut it in 2012, and its up to third party developers to really show us what they can do with Nintendo’s new console before Sony and Microsoft throw their hats into the virtual ring. I truly hope they can deliver, but until we see it for ourselves, it’s anyone’s guess.

What do you think? Should we be content to have games just as good as what is already out there, or do you want to see something different in terms of graphical and technical ability of the Wii U. Let us know below!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!