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Why The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild dropped Gamepad support on Wii U

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Nintendo says it wanted ‘to provide the same gameplay experience’ on Wii U and Switch

In comparing a 2014 demonstration (above) to what they got last Friday, Wii U owners realized that GamePad second-screen support was stripped out of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Nintendo fessed up to why in an interview with IGN.

Hidemaro Fujibayashi told IGN that developers "aimed to provide the same gameplay experience across both on Switch and Wii U," noting that when development began, well before the Switch was announced, touch screen features were present.

"In doing our testing without the touch features," he said, "we noticed looking back and forth between the GamePad and the screen actually took a little something away from this type of Zelda game."

Fujibayashi went on to say that removing the touch features resulted in "a really strong gameplay experience."

That may be, but it still felt like one last slap to the face of the Wii U. “It is more challenging to convey the appeal of the GamePad to consumers who do not engage with video games that often since they do not actively gather information about video games,” the late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata conveyed during an investor briefing in 2014. “Therefore, we intend to take on this challenge, and I would like to have this solved before the year-end sales season.”

When the console's own maker abandons development for a time-consuming special feature, it's not hard to imagine why third-party publishers weren't enthusiastic about the platform, after the first year anyway, when everyone is gonna give a new console a chance.

If you can stand playing Breath of the Wild with a big ol’ blank screen in your lap (see the above tweet for an example), we still think it is a marvelous game. Our review scored The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a 10.