While I was putting together all the news from yesterday’s Nintendo Direct I came across something Kristian had written in one of his news stories that I’d completely missed. Yoshi’s Island DS was available to download right then from the Wii U eShop. I don’t know how that detail got past me, but it did. I immediately rushed over to the Wii U to download it, because I love the Yoshi’s Island games. Yes, all of them.
I was also curious as to how exactly DS games were going to work on Wii U. I can tell you that they’re kind of weird. There are numerous screen options that you can try out to find one to your liking. Here’s a brief overview of some of them.
You have an option where the TV acts as the DS top screen and the Wii U Game Pad works as the DS bottom screen. It’s just like having a HUGE DS in your hands. You have another option where you can display a virtual DS (and it’s a DS Phat) on your TV and the Game Pad. Much like how you have a Game Boy displayed on the 3DS when playing old Game Boy games. You have an option that puts the focus on the top screen. It displays both of the DS screens side by side. The top screen takes up more than half your TV (or Game Pad screen). The bottom screen is much smaller and sits to the right of the top screen. You have one that focuses on the bottom screen. Just like the previous one only the bottom DS screen is bigger than the top screen. There is one that puts both the screens on the Game Pad, but they’re rotated horizontally. This one is used for DS games that focus on the stylus as the main input. There’s another one that lets you best display games that are done in book style.
Nintendo is trying to give you plenty of options to make the game experience most enjoyable for you. There are plenty of different options to try and hopefully there will be one that you’ll like best, or you can customize it on a game by game basis.
There is currently only one game available to download for the DS on Wii U, Yoshi’s Island. I downloaded it and played through the first three levels just to get a feel for how the games would work on Wii U. My experience was weird. The game takes full advantage of both the top and the bottom screen of the DS. The levels in the game are very vertical. Much of the action with Yoshi and Baby Mario takes place on the bottom screen, but there are things going on in the top that you need to pay attention to. On the DS this was not a problem as both screens are right there and you can see everything all at once. Playing the game on Wii U I found it a little more difficult.
I first tried the game just like I was playing a huge DS with each screen doing what it would have done on the DS. This worked a little bit, but I found it very hard to really pay attention to the TV while the action was on the Game Pad. There’s no real comfortable way to hold the Game Pad so you can see the TV at the same time. This meant I was pretty much ignoring everything happening in half the game. There are a lot of collectible things in that game and if you ignore half the play area you’ll miss a lot of them.
Next I tried it using the focus on the top screen. This displayed both of the screens side by side. It worked for a while until I needed to line things up from the bottom screen that would move into the top screen. Not having the two screens lined up above each other made this incredibly difficult to do. Also the huge difference in size between the two screens was a little distracting. Then focus of the game shifted from one screen to another. Where the action was on the top screen it was now on the bottom screen which meant I was trying to look at the smaller portion of the screen. I switched it to focus on the bottom half of the DS to make the action I was looking at bigger. This worked until the action shifted back to the top screen. Having to constantly go into the settings and refocus which screen to look at was not going to be any fun to play the game.
I finally tried with the virtual DS on the screen. This was overall the best way to play, but doing that makes both of the screens so small that it’s not easy to see the action on the TV. I could focus on the Game Pad to play that way, but it takes the TV completely out of the equation unless you’ve got people in the same room wanting to watch you play a DS game. I kept playing this way and I think for the full playthrough of Yoshi’s Island DS this is the way I’m going to have to play it. It’s not the ideal way to play it. That would actually be to have DS games on the 3DS Virtual Console rather than the Wii U. I love this game and I’ve actually been thinking about it quite a bit lately wanting to play it.
Visually the games look okay. Blown up on a big screen you can see a lot of pixelization. You can tell these games were not meant to be played on 40-60” TVs. It’s playable and I don’t have a problem with it. Having the virtual DS on screen puts them in a much more close resolution to the DS. They look really good and run really smooth. I just think having the fake system surrounding them looks a little weird.
I think when it comes down to it which screen configuration you use is going to come down to a game by game basis. Games where the action is on primarily one screen and the other screen is information will be much easier to play than games that use both screens at the same time to play the game. Games like Phantom Hourglass will play really well using the Game Pad. Playing games like Yoshi’s Island that utilize both screens equally are ideal for this service, but there are ways to make it work.