Roll up! Roll up! It’s time to head down to the land of Nintendo, otherwise known as Nintendo Land. Nintendo Land is a batch of mini-games which is the Wii U’s Wii Sports – although will have it have the same broad appeal?
There’s 12 games here for you to sink your teeth into and they’re all based around your favourite Nintendo games such as Super Mario, Zelda or Metroid. There’s six games that you can take on by yourself and six multiplayer games, three of which are competitive and three are co-operative. This is a game for a group of people, if you’re playing by yourself then you’ll enjoy yourself to begin with but that’ll drain fairly quickly.
Starting with the single player games, Takamaru’s Ninja Castle is a Duck Hunt style game where the aim is to fire your ninja stars at the sneaky ninjas. These finger-puppet ninjas will pop up and bob around the screen, throwing back their own ninja stars and bombs, which you’ll have to knock out of the sky. You’ll be required to turn your Gamepad on it’s side so it’s in a portrait position, you’ll then have to flick your finger/stylus up the screen to throw the ninja stars. It’s fairly responsive and accurate and is enjoyable in small bursts but any longer than that and it can feel a little stale.
Balloon Trip Breeze sees your Mii attached to three helium balloons, your aim is to complete the course, collecting balloons and dodging enemies. Dragging your finger/stylus on the Gamepad will create a small breeze, which can be used to move around your floating Mii. You can also tap the screen to attack obstacles or enemies. The Gamepad displays a closer view of your Mii so you’ll have to alternate between watching the two screens.
Octopus Dance is probably the worst game out of the 12. You control your Mii and your aim is to copy the moves of the dancing robot/diver next to you. The control sticks control an arm each and you can lean by tilting the Gamepad and jump by shaking it. Again, you’ll have to alternate between the two views as one shows the dancing from the front and the other shows it from behind, which makes it easier to copy – the two views will alternate between the TV and Gamepad.
Yoshi’s Fruit Cart is one of the better games as it’s basic and uses the Gamepad fairly well. You’re riding Yoshi and your aim is to collect all of the fruit and reach the goal. On the TV you’ll be able to see the position of all of the fruits and on your Gamepad you’ll just see the layout of the level. You have to use the Gamepad to draw a line around the level, Yoshi will then follow this line and if you’ve done it correctly then Yoshi will travel through all the fruits and get to the goal.
Captain Falcon’s Twister Race is a racing game, funnily enough. You have to use the Gamepad to steer your generic Blue Falcon through a course, dodging obstacles and hitting jumps. On the TV you’ll have a following view, just behind your vehicle. Whilst the Gamepad has a top down view which makes it a bit easier for you to steer.
Finally we have Donkey Kong’s Crash Course, this is a large obstacle course where you control a little buggy. With a variety of tilting the controller, pressing different buttons and even blowing on the Gamepad, you’ll navigate through a series of obstacles. The further you get, the more points you get, simple. As with Balloon Trip Breeze, the Gamepad shows a tight view of your buggy, the TV shows the majority of the course.
That’s the single player games out of the way, it’s also worth noting that other players can take part in these events with a Wiimote, although the functionality is limited at best. As for the competitive games we have Mario Chase, Animal Crossing: Sweet Day and Luigi’s Ghost Mansion and they’re all much the same experience.
Mario Chase allows you and your friends to take on a Nintendo-fied version of Pac-Man. The person with the Gamepad controls Mario who has to avoid the grasp of the pesky Toads, who are controlled by your friends. If you don’t have enough people playing then the Toads will be replaced by computer controlled Yoshis. Mario can see where all of the other players are on the Gamepad whilst the Toads have no hints as to the location of Mario, they just have to run around and try to jump on him. With a full compliment of players, Mario Chase is great fun, although with only three levels the appeal does fade after a while.
Luigi’s Ghost Mansion is very similar, the person with the Gamepad controls a ghost whilst everyone else controls their Miis as they try to track down the ghost. Everyone gets a top down view with the only difference being that you can’t see the ghost on the TV unless someone shines a torch at them or there’s a lightning strike. The ghost has to try to sneak up on the Miis and take away their lives. The Miis are equipped with torches which they have to try to shine at the ghost but they only have a limited battery so you have to use them sparingly.
Lastly, there’s Animal Crossing: Sweet Day which flips the screen usage of the other two. This time the Gamepad user controls two cutlery-wielding guards who are trying to stop everyone else from collecting fruit and dropping them off in designated areas. The skill comes from controlling two characters with the Gamepad, each stick controls a character and getting them to work together can take some getting used to but it’s very enjoyable.
Finally, we have the three co-operative games, Metroid Blast, Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest and Pikmin Adventure. These all focus on working together with your friends but they do have a couple of competitive modes thrown in there for good measure.
Metroid Blast has the Gamepad user controlling a flying ship, movement is controlled via the sticks and the buttons are for firing. Precise aiming is done via the Gamepad, you have to hold the pad up and move that to aim – which I found to be awkward to control and very fiddly. The rest of the players take control of ground units who run around and attack enemies. It’s worth noting that to play this with friends you’ll need a Wiimote Plus and nunchuck for each player.
Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest is an on-rails game where you’ll have to work through levels and take out the bad guys. The Gamepad user takes control of a bow and arrow whilst the rest of the players have a sword and shield. The bow and arrow aiming is the same as the aiming in Metroid Blast, which again is awkward and fiddly. You can play this on your own but it’s almost impossible to complete with just a bow and arrow. Again you’ll need a Wiimote Plus for each player to play this.
Finally we have Pikmin Adventure, a dungeon crawler where you take control of Olimar and your friends all take control of Pikmin. Olimar can call Pikmin back and throw them at enemies by tapping the screen whilst your friends can run in a smack foes with a big leaf. There’s also a versus mode where the Pikmin try and beat Olimar in a wave based mode. Pikmin Adventure is one of the best games in this package.
So there we have Nintendo Land, buy a Wii U premium pack and it’ll come in the box, otherwise you’ll have to buy it separately. There’s some decent mini games in here for the competent gamer, however, it doesn’t have the same pick up and play fun that Wii Sports had and you’ll spend more time explaining controls to your friends and family than you’d like. As a package game it’s good fun, especially with the full compliment of players, however, it’s hard to recommend as a stand-alone title.
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