Nintendo’s GDC Tech Demo is an Excellent Reminder of the Wii U’s Potential


Back at E3 2011, Nintendo showed off a tech demo called New Super Mario Bros. Mii, displaying how the original New Super Mario Bros. Wii mechanics would translate onto the Nintendo Wii U console with remote play features and improved textures and resolution. Soon thereafter, New Super Mario Bros. U became a thing, presumably once they realized they might as well just make it an entire game for retail after adding in a slew of new features to better incorporate the GamePad.

Now, at the 2014 Game Developers’ Conference, one of their latest tech demos is one of the Mario vs. Donkey Kong series playing on the Wii U. One of the most significant differences is how the GamePad and television work together to give a much more intuitive control scheme for the puzzle/strategy game, showing their Web Framework for general development. The levels shown vary from relatively small to grand, which at any point are shown in their entirety on the television while any zoomed-in portion of the screen is shown on the GamePad, allowing you to place your springs and other objects necessary for victory accordingly. Watching the tech demo, courtesy of GameXplain, the benefit of having a huge screen is once again evident as you are more easily able to coordinate your strategies with the console’s technology.

As with New Super Mario Bros. U, there is a large possibility that this tech demo will wind up as an actual game, either for retail or on the eShop. If or when this Mario vs. Donkey Kong Wii U title is actually confirmed for release, we will be sure to let you know. Regardless, it’s very interesting and a great look at the Wii U’s potential as much more than an oversized Nintendo DS but rather its own unique and innovative console capable of streamlining gameplay in a way no other system can at the moment. Many other games are taking advantage of this feature, such as Affordable Space Adventures, which looks amazing, and Pikmin 3, which is amazing. It’s all something that needs to be shown at much more than a glance, more specifically with better marketing, but that’s another story entirely.

Nintendo boasting their technology at GDC like this may be just what they need to show third-party developers how they can stretch their creative wings. Now they’ll just have to keep it up and go even further with it all and push, push, push.

Indie game support for the Wii U has been very strong lately, and it’s only getting stronger. More developers are realizing how unique features can be implemented beyond the standard controller, as has been the case with Rayman Legends and Need for Speed Most Wanted U. This tech demo of Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a small, but effective, reminder of just what Nintendo is capable of.


About Author

(Senior Writer)

Andres Ruiz is an English major at Florida International University, but that's not nearly as fun as writing for Twinfinite. Some of his favorite series include The Legend of Zelda, Tekken, Katamari, and Bayonetta. When he's not writing about or playing games, he's probably bothering his lazy dog or trying to grow a beard. Someday...

  • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

    Lovely article

  • Daniel Royster

    VR is on the way, I dong think devs care about Nintendo’s gamepad anymore

    • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

      VR is not the be all end all for games

      And as far as Im concerned Occulus Rift is interesting but limited. And it will probably remain limited for another good 3-5 years.

      There’s room for everything.

      • Daniel Royster

        “Then there are people Who want to play Skyrim but not have a helmet on for 8 hours for reasons.”

        That sounds a lot like “people don’t want to stand in front of their TVs and waggle a controller” but we know how the Wii turned out.

        • Laer_HeiSeiRyuu

          The Wii was limited by effort.

          Casuals like to party dont you know?

          VR? VR’s for people who want “experiences” But there are people who cant use it, and people who get sick from it.

          Everyone can use a wii remote.

    • bobacdigital

      John Carmack, co-founder of id Software and more recently the Chief Technology Officer of Oculus VR had some words to say last night during Sony’s GDC reveal of Project Morpheus.

      “Calibrate PS4 VR expectations: a game that ran 60 fps on PS3 could be done in VR (stereo 1080 MSAA low latency 60 fps) on PS4,” he said on Twitter. True words from the man!

      The ps4 right now cant run 1080p at 60 fps solid for most of its games.. There are frame drops in most its games that are demanding.. So you think it will be able to give you the same graphics fidelity in stereo 1080p? Some of the games are 1080 @ 30fps and have frame drops…

      VR is still really new and not that great.. fast forward 10 years and it will be how you see it in the movies… Maybe.

      • Daniel Royster

        I respect John Carmack for his stature in the industry but right now he is Sony’s competition. You can’t take his words completely at face value, only Sony knows exactly what they’re capable of right now. To argue against him, certain devs have put Project Morpheus Ahead of the Oculus Rift.

        • bobacdigital

          Carmack for over a decade has been an impartial source of really really good information. The dude is a tech / programming genius when it comes to gaming.. His point makes 100% when you take a look at the underlying meaning behind his comments regardless of whether he is competition or not.

          A computer is an open platform that can be upgraded over time. You can make any computer more powerful OR you can upgrade it all together at anytime. Computers right now have have games / engines that run over 120 frames per second at 1080p and higher (this has been the case for several years for most gamers)… His point basically states that a PS4 is a closed environment and a platform that supports a ceiling when it comes to graphics fidelity. It cant do MORE than what it is capable of. Yes you could program some efficiency into some of the games and make them run a little better .. VR renders 2 images at a time on 2 screens.. Right now PS4 has issues with rendering 1 screen at 1080p at a SOLID 60 fps with great graphics…

          His comment wasnt to put down the ps4.. he is just saying be realistic about what it can do vs what the Occulus can do. PC platform is just more powerful than the ps4 and capable of doing more with VR.

    • Gamingsince75

      You casuals are always a funny bunch. VR was around before Sony announced it yet now its a game changer. Good to know kid…. Not like most of us didn’t see that when we saw Oculus Rift but you Sony fanboys live in your own world. I am sure most of you will try to say it was something Sony invented, like everything else they ripped off

      • Daniel Royster

        I may be a PlayStation fan but I don’t live in a bubble world. I am aware of other companies sounding out VR technology, most notably Nintendo in the gaming space. Im excited about VR because it Isn’t such a pipe dream anymore, we’re getting closer to it being a viable thing. Also I don’t believe Sony ripped off everything they’ve done. I see your username is Gamingsince75, if that is indeed true then you’ve been around longer than me and should know better.

    • WiiUPS43DS

      Some must look at all the indie games coming..Facepalm!

    • heavenshitman1

      VR will be the gimmick. A pretty niche technology. It’s gonna cost consumers a reasonable dollar to get involved with, and as awesome as VR can be, it has so many variations of implantation in games, it’s only going to work so-so with X number of genres, or even limit other genres, or create a technical hiccups with a system (ie, if a player is looking in VR, can anyone else see the game playing? Maybe onlookers can view the TV, but now are we asking a system to do multiple HD renders. etc.. etc.)
      Not to mention if any real motion will end up being involved, pretty dangerous when you can’t see your surroundings, and how long can a persons eyes stand viewing at a 1 inch distance?
      I highly doubt it’ll dominate gaming or even be a defining factor. Only for a couple genres
      Maybe FPS’s and Racers for example

      • Daniel Royster

        The reason why I don’t think VR is a gimmick is because it can be used in a lot of ways other than gaming. Its not a matter of if VR blows up its when. Years ago when MS showed off the tablet computer it was ignored and labeled a flop, today tablets are one of the most popular consumer electronic devices. Nintendo’s virtual boy was also a flop, its all about the timing.

        • heavenshitman1

          Yeah, not sure I’d compare the laptop/tablet scenario to VR. It’s a form factor vs a very in-depth visual technology. VR may become a staple type of technology, but I think for it to have a mainstream implementation will take a lot of time. More time than this generation will offer.
          I think for VR to work on any mass scale we need more unified hardware. Different VR sets, running with different consoles, all which need specific programming for to make the games visually correct on them etc.. and just the added cost on top of the systems we have on offer to lash out for. Just won’t happen as quickly as companies like Sony and MS seem to want to make everyone believe

  • Gamingsince75

    Is this not the exact same thing they did with the DK puzzle ride game in Nintendo land. Pad showed a close up of what was on TV

  • Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

    I wonder why AAA devs aren’t taking note of the success indies are having on Wii U.

  • Nintendo Fan 4 Lif3

    This looks great-but very hard.

  • maxleresistant

    I’m really not impressed with this “tech” demo. I see nothing new here. You talked about the WiiU being more than an oversized DS, this demo is just that and nothing else. I really hope they have better gameplay ideas for my WiiU.
    And I really hope they had better things to show behind closed doors to devs at the GDC.