Oh, Nintendo ... I just can't quit you. Even though I don't have the Wii U console and probably won't for a long time to come, I still like to keep an eye on what Nintendo is doing to see the new ideas it brings to the world of video games. With the upcoming minigame collection title Wii Party U, not only will players get the unique experience of asymmetrical game play but they will also get a high-tech flashback to a concept that was popular during the early years of portable video games: "head-to-head" tabletop gaming.
From what I have seen in the ads and articles about Wii Party U, 15 of the two-player minigames will be limited to the Wii U GamePad's display screen and require players to share the GamePad controls to play competitively or cooperatively. The picture below provides an example of what this kind of game play would look like, and the minigames that fall into this format include foosball, baseball, and slot car racing.
When I saw video footage of these kinds of two-player Wii Party U games in action, it reminded me of how early portable video game producers such as Mattel and Tiger would produce battery-powered tabletop games that two players could play together. Most of these games were sports games although there were some exceptions, such as the Star Wars Electronic Laser Battle Game.
To give you a better idea of what these games were like back in the late 70s and early 80s, here are two commercials for portable head-to-head electronic games: