We've got something for you to listen to. So grab some headphones.
OK. Listen to the first clip. Watch it as you listen.
Then let me explain:
One of the weirdest innovations of the Nintendo Wii was the inclusion of a speaker in the system's controller. It could crudely play sound effects or even speech samples, emitting the sounds of a released bow during archery in a Zelda or the sounds of a suggestive phone call in No More Heroes.
Nintendo's creators said that the controller speaker would complement traditional TV speakers to give games on the Wii a three-dimensional soundscape. You might hear a sound effect from the controller and get the sensation that it travelled, like that arrow in Zelda to the TV. Good idea, poor execution. The Wii controller speaker was terrible. It didn't work very well.
On the Wii U, Nintendo gets a second chance to create 3D soundscapes and, right at launch, the results are much more successful. The Wii U GamePad emits quality stereo sound and can even create its own pseudo-surround sound effect. This can complement the audio that the console is sending to the user's TV or surround sound system.
In the clip up top, you'll hear the soundscape of Nintendo Land's central plaza. You'll hear the sound that's emitted from the system and from the GamePad. What you have to imagine is that you actually hear both at the same time when you're playing. You hear the GamePad audio right near your ears. You hear the system audio from wherever your TV or sound system speakers are. It seems that, in that game's plaza, Nintendo's designers want you to feel as if the game's music is loudest when you're on the ground and is fading when you go to the top of the tower's plaza. Yet you always hear it close to you. Interesting, but a bit odd.
Here's an even more interesting example of this kind of 3D audio in, of all things, the Wii U's Mii Maker. Listen to this one with headphones, because we play with the stereo effects. We'll let you hear the system audio, the GamePad audio and then both at once, one in each ear. Notice how the same melody plays, but with different instruments being played from different audio sensors. You'll hear a violin, for example, that only plays from the GamePad. It really does make it sound like you're in the middle of an orchestra.
We don't have an example of ZombiU for you to listen to, but it does smart things with the dual-audio possibilities as well. As you play that first-person shooter you might hear the voice of the Prepper—essentially the guy giving you orders from a remote location—through your GamePad, while the sounds of the zombies you're fighting come from your TV. When you hold up the GamePad and use it to scan the room your character is in, the bleeps and bloops of its sensors emanate from the GamePad's speakers.