What If?: Cosmic Walker for Wii U
Story, control, and gameplay ideas for a canceled game.
A few years ago, Cosmic Walker made a short blip on the Wii release radar. A brief video clip, three screen shots, a few details a few months later, and that's the last we heard about it. According to IGN, the game would've starred an astronaut who travels between space stations and the moon performing various tasks, and bore a resemblance to Endless Ocean -- and that's still all we know about it. Development was likely scrapped long ago, but why not try to imagine what it would play like on Wii U? A sandbox game in space would really rock it, man.
Cosmic Walker could revolve around your typical, newly married guy named Dave, whose wife packs his bags the previous night (pre-flight) and sends him off to earn a better living away from their home on Mars. Since they are expecting a child, he of course needs to make lots of money so that they can move to a better climate. After all, Mars isn't the kind of place to raise your kids; it's cold and there's no one there to raise them.
Flying back and forth between the moon and a space station would make for some good introductory practice, so let's start with the basics of controlling a ship. Cosmic Walker appears to take place in the near-ish future, so let's assume most ships, as seen in screen shots, are basically an advanced space shuttle: clunky and very slow to turn in the vacuum of space.
In this future there are no X-Wing physics or futuristic shields. A nice smooth flight earns cash and prestige points as a pilot; recklessly crash into space dock, space debris, or other ships and get hit with a dock in pay. It's just a job five days a week.
The ship controls from an E3 2011 demo called Battle Mii could easily carry over to Cosmic Walker Wii U:
The left circle pad strafed and moved forward and back, while the right one moved the ship vertically, and the left trigger zoomed in on the reticule. Aiming could be done by moving the controller around.
Interplanetary travel could be done by pressing a destination on the Wii U tablet, like in Metroid Prime 3:
The first half hour or so would involve several piloting missions to various space stations -- a not-so-Crazy Taxi in space. On arrival, Dave could explore, interact with other astronauts, arrange flight jobs, and eventually learn how to use astro-tools and various machinery. Endless Ocean slowly rolled out diving tools one at a time in a similar manner and it could work here.
Practice missions could involve jetting around around space buoys with the space suit rocket boosters...
...while more science-y missions would involve hopping from asteroid to asteroid to gather rock samples and take pictures, or go all Bruce Willis on them, if the situation requires.
Drawing on real life situations and classic sci-fi, later, more advanced missions could be centered on flying to an area, going on a space walk, and making mechanical repairs. In other words, a combination of flight sim and the Endless Ocean and Trauma Center series... in space.
A mission that requires moving the shuttle in range of a broken telescope using the Wii U tablet, and then picking up the Wii Remote to install some new mirrors would be a great demonstration of the Wii U's potential for asymetrical gameplay:
These kinds of controls could also involve more advanced circuit board welding and rewiring as seen in Metroid Prime 3:
Use a pair of Wii Remote Pluses to rescue wayward space walkers with robot arms:
Maybe a space station could be visited by Samus Aran and your job is to deactivate the self-destruct in time -- or, failing that, to salvage important science equipment before it's too late:
A mission where you have to clean off a bug from the shuttle windshield while it's still in motion? No problem with a second player manning the space squeegee (or should I say, HD space squeegee):
By the time the game is over, Dave would gain prestige as a respected pilot and skilled repair man, accumulate a nest egg, buy better ships and space power tools, visit exotic locations, and manage to grow as a character. Unlike other Nintendo games, this story would likely end on a bittersweet note when he realizes he's not the man they think he is at home. Oh, no. He's a rocket man.
Cosmic Walker for Wii U would have lots of opportunities to pay homage to classic sci-fi while going where gaming hasn't gone before. The power of the Wii U could be harnessed for a very specific physics engine, and the combination of the tablet and motion controls would make for a fun and unusual combination of genres. But I think it's gonna be a long, long time til Nintendo brings this game back to life.