Starcraft 2 On The Wii U: Bringing Strategy To Nintendoland
Although it was easy enough to see how Diablo 3 could be ported to a console, could it be the same for Blizzard’s space epic?
Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games have been notoriously bad on consoles with the only real exception being Halo Wars. However, that kind of control scheme just won’t work in the highly competitive environment that Starcraft brings with it. While controls would be the highest concern with bringing Starcraft to consoles, Nintendo’s latest machine may have opened the Pandora’s Box when it comes to RTS games in the living room.
Starcraft 2 on the Wii U is a marriage that would work beautifully. There’s nothing about Starcraft that couldn’t work on the Wii U. In fact, the more interactive control scheme using the Gamepad may even prove to make the game’s experience even more exciting than its PC originator.
There’s a lot that Blizzard could pioneer if they put Starcraft 2 on the Wii U. Bringing an intense and competitive RTS scene to consoles would be new. This would also bring Nintendo into a new aspect of the gaming world: e-sports. There’s also no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Wii U needs a bit of help right now. Announcing Blizzard’s Starcraft 2 on the Wii U would go a long way in showing that Nintendo is ready explore some new territory and bring the games that everyone wants to their new yet struggling console.
Let’s look at how Starcraft 2 on the Wii U would work.
This is the big question because let’s face it, you need to be able to play this game fast and there’s a lot to it. How will hotkeys work? What about the mini-map? Can you still chat even if you’re using the Gamepad to play? Would there be Off-TV play?
There’s a lot of questions but thankfully the Wii U has plenty to offer when it comes to the control department.
These guys are the bread and butter of mastering your game. Knowing when and how to select a unit and use its special abilities goes a long way in making you a better player. These absolutely must be in the Wii U version and be easily accessible.
To make hotkeys easy to utilize on the Wii U’s Gamepad we’d use the rear shoulder buttons (ZL to be specific). When you hold down ZL the following buttons become macro buttons: L, R, A, B, Y, and Z. This gives the user six hotkey buttons to utilize for units. Once you select a unit, you just have to hold down ZL and then use one of the assigned buttons to used a hotkey ability.
In typical Starcraft fashion you would be able to customize each unit’s assigned hotkey buttons to better help you memorize each of them.
Camera and Unit Selection
Moving the camera is done in three different ways in Starcraft 2. You either move a selected unit which the camera then follows, move your mouse to the edge of the screen or use the arrows keys to pan, or use the mini-map to immediately move to a selected point.
Each way is viable and should be represented in the Wii U version. Using the D-Pad or the left Analog stick on the Gamepad while holding down the ZR button would allow you to pan the camera in whatever direction you’re pushing to. Selecting a unit and having them move would put the camera on auto-follow until you either turn that camera function off or tap the touch screen on the Gamepad to detach the camera from the unit. Finally, holding the Select button will bring up the mini-map on the touch screen and you can tap anywhere to instantly move the camera to that location.
As for unit selection, this can be achieved in two different ways. You can tap on, let’s say, a Terran Marine and you will select that individual unit. If you have a bunch of Marines grouped up in one area you can double tap on one marine and then all of the similar units nearby will be selected. Alternatively, you can hold down the ZR button (the one we use to pan the camera with the D-Pad or left Analog stick) and then drag your finger across the touch screen to select a bunch of units at the same time.
Since the touch screen on the Gamepad needs to be able to show both the map and action as well as the UI, this is the tricky part. I came up with two different ways this could be handled.
First, we move the UI off the Gamepad and keep it on the TV. This would effectively get rid of the Off-TV function, which I don’t think Starcraft 2 players would really care about in the first place. With the UI on the TV and off the Gamepad, players can utilize the Gamepad for quick uses like selecting units, panning the camera, and selecting hotkeyed abilities. This keeps the players eyes mainly on the bigger screen so they can bring order to the chaos that is Starcraft 2 and its fast gameplay.
Secondly, we move the majority of the UI to the Gamepad’s screen and only bring up the game screen you hold down ZR to pan the camera or select troops. I feel that this would be the more cumbersome mode, though. Keeping the UI on the bigger screen, to me, seems to be the best way in going about it and to promote a better playing experience.
N early every port like this has some new features or something exclusive to it. While Diablo 3 on the PS3 and PS4 seems to be leaning on offline play as its exclusive feature, that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case with Starcraft 2 on the Wii U.
The ability to play against PC and Mac players would be nice to see but it really depends on whether or not the Wii U version is subjected to a slower pace or not. With the correct control scheme, I don’t think there would be much difference, honestly. It will take some getting used to but the Gamepad can easily accommodate Starcraft 2 and the playing experience that fans expect.
So with the possibility of not having cross-platform play and not having Off-TV play, what exclusive stuff could Starcraft 2 on the Wii U have? How about this stuff:
- Nintendo portraits: Players can use the likeness of Mario, Peach, Luigi, Samus, Star Fox, Donkey Kong and more as their profile portraits.
- Nintendo unit skins: Players can change units to look more like Nintendo models. How about a legion of Arwing’s from Star Fox instead of Terran Banshee’s? How about Star Fox and his friends piloting the Banshees while Samus takes over the Protoss’ Mothership?
- Tournament Feature: This would allow Blizzard, Nintendo, or even the players to create, manage, maintain, and schedule tournaments with brackets in-game.
- In-Game Knowledge Center: Since the console world isn’t very keen on Starcraft and/or RTS games, having an in-game library of lore, tips, instructional videos, training exercises, map pictures, unit descriptions and stats, and pro help topics would be great.
Bringing Strategy to Nintendoland
I love the Wii U. It’s a great console, it really is. It just needs games and support and it needs it badly. I also happen to love Starcraft and think that having Starcraft 2 on the Wii U would be a great success for both Blizzard and Nintendo.
Bringing that kind of competitive scene to consoles and Nintendo would be huge. It would also go a long, long way into breaking open the console RTS market correctly.
This would have to be a collaboration between Blizzard and Nintendo to make it work correctly. The cross marketing (I would love to see a commercial with Yoshi and a Zergling going head-to-head), Tournament feature, and exclusive content would have to be done just right. Starcraft may be a bloody and violent game but Nintendo needs to see this happen. This would bring them into an entirely new aspect of gaming and really promote the Wii U. It also gets Starcraft into more player’s hands and finally wash out the terrible feeling we still get when we think about Starcraft 64.
I am a long time Nintendo supporter from SNES days. And incidentally, Starcraft (in general) has been one of my favourite gaming franchises of all time. I have dreamt something like this for eons. I remember playing the original Starcraft pack on N64, obviously suffered many ways to the PC version, lack of FMV, res drop etc.. but it was actually done really well, with even split screen multi playing.
I believe 100% in the WiiU technology, and I'm eagerly sitting in anticipation for someone to really work something out for the hardware. I think realistically an original RTS designed for WiiU would result better than a port, but it could be done. It almost seems a disappointment that so many developers seem to just not be imagining these ground-breaking ideas. I understand the financial risk involved, but does every solitary piece of software have to yield clear cut profits.
Creating master-pieces for no financial gain, seems an ideology of the past. I believe it's what one used to call art