The popular consensus is that the Wii U’s success will be determined by how adept game designers are at leveraging the console’s unique tablet controller. The Wii U GamePad doesn’t necessarily require thinking wholly outside the box, though. There are plenty of existing games that would benefit greatly from having the touch screen controller. Just imagine how smooth Borderlands 2 would be if you could navigate its cumbersome inventory using the Wii U’s touch screen. Too bad it’s not going to happen, so says Gearbox Software’s Randy Pitchford.
Speaking with magazine GamesMaster (via Nintendo Everything), Pitchford put the kibosh on a potential Wii U version of Borderlands 2. “We get asked if there is going to be a Wii U version of Borderlands, and the reason why there’s not is because we couldn’t think of a natural, obvious, ‘OMG, I want that for what the Wii brings to the table’ feature.”
Gearbox’s upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines and its iconic motion tracker is the perfect example of an ideal Wii U feature according to Pitchford. “[With] Aliens, the first thing we though was, ‘Holy shit, I can have a motion controller in my hands!’ When it’s there in my lap it feels like I’m part of the movie.”
Way back in April during our very first hands on preview of Borderlands 2, I asked producer Sean Reardon if Gearbox Software was considering a Wii U version of the game. His answer then was, “We don’t have anything to announce right now.” In marketing speak, that translates as, “We haven’t decided just yet.”
Now that Borderlands 2 and Wii U are on shelves, the decision seems final if not a little confusing. Pitchford in particular has been vocal about wanting to get Borderlands 2 onto platforms besides PlayStation 3, PC, and Xbox 360. He mentioned wanting to make a Vita version of the game multiple times back in September, but he also said that Gearbox didn’t have the time to port the game over to the handheld. It wouldn’t necessarily be making the Wii U version either. Demiurge Studios is actually developing the Wii U version of Aliens: Colonial Marines, so it’s not without precedent for Gearbox to contract out a port job.
As the Wii U matures, it will be important for developers to remember that the Nintendo DS’ greatest innovations were simple. At first it seemed lazy for developers to use the second screen as a constantly open map, but that actually made games like Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow significantly better than if they were on a one-screen system. Borderlands 2 would benefit in the same way.