Early last year Crystal Dynamics confirmed that they were not developing a Wii U version of Tomb Raider, even though Nintendo’s new system is on par graphically with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. With the game’s March release almost upon us, the studio has spoken up again about their lack of Wii U support, stating that the Wii U’s GamePad controller is to blame.
Speaking to True Gaming, Crystal Dynamics’ creative director Noah Hughes revealed the exact reasons why the developer is not making a Wii U version of Tomb Raider, saying:
“I’m always a fan of the Nintendo systems, in particular they really push interface design, and from a game design perspective it’s fun to play with new interfaces. Having said that it’s something that I think we would want to tailor the experience to if we were going to do it.”
“All three of those are really trying to deliver roughly the same experience but delivered best on each platform, and I think something like the Wii U often asks you to do something unique based on a unique interface. That’s something as a gamer I love but it’s something you don’t want to do half-heartedly as a developer.”
While not wanting to do something “half-heartedly” is certainly a reasonable excuse, it’s also one that completely smells like a bunch of grass that is being squeezed out the back end of a bull.
The Wii U GamePad’s touchscreen is unique as far as home console controllers go, but the fact is that the actual controller has all the exact same buttons that are on both the DualShock 3 and 360 pad. Additionally, Nintendo does not force third party developers to do anything with the touchscreen, so Crystal Dynamics could have simply ported Tomb Raider over and just pretended that the touchscreen didn’t even exist.
Furthermore, it’s not like this has not already been done by other developers. Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition, Assassin’s Creed III, and The Cave, are all perfect examples of games that were not originally designed around the Wii U GamePad but managed to make it work anyway.
Of course the biggest kicker is that this statement is coming from Crystal Dynamics, the same developer that somehow got Tomb Raider: Underworld ported over to the Wii and its “unique interface”. Granted that game was even more of a mess on the Wii than it was on the PS3/Xbox 360, but the controls were not part its many problems (which included fun things like; numerous glitches, game breaking bugs, and missing features).
My guess is that the real reason why Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix are gun shy about porting Tomb Raider to the Wii U is due to the console’s smaller user base, which makes it unlikely that they could sell enough copies to recoup the development costs. That, of course, is a perfectly understandable and a more than reasonable concern. It’s just too bad that they didn’t feel honesty with their fans was the best policy.