Genre: Other Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Classification: PG Release Date: 30th Nov 2012 Platforms:
Average of 2 Ratings
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There are very few publishers that do presentation quite like Nintendo. From the opening moments, Nintendo Land bathes the player in bright colours and familiar melodies, tightly holding their hand through what is likely their first experience with Nintendoís newest joy-box, the Wii U.
The cynics in the crowd will cast Nintendo Land off as little more than a tech-demo, a spiritual successor to Wii Sports or worse still, a new and improved mini game collection reminiscent of the garbage that plagued the Wii.
Dig a little deeper into Nintendo Land and what you will find is a cleverly built little game that is a proof of concept - in equal parts a demonstration that Nintendo is interested in hubs for online communities, and that their foray into the tablet market on consoles does work.
Nintendo Land has players assume the persona of a Mii, continuing Nintendoís familiar avatar system. As was the case the Wii, visiting Miis can be imported into Nintendo Land. It's highly recommended that before playing Nintendo Land players take the time to create or download some of the more eccentric user generated Miis available - as Nintendo Land prioritises multiplayer games over single player, beating friends is always sweeter when your opponent resembles their one screen avatar.
Nintendo Land takes place in a hub world called the Plaza and games are accessed via a quick-start menu or by walking your Mii through the corresponding gate. Nintendo Land is eager to get players used to the gamepad from the get-go, with the camera control in the Plaza mapped to the gamepads motion controls. This is allows the player to get used to the pitch and roll of the additional axis before taking part in competitive games. Itís a nice touch and as Nintendo Land makes use of only one gamepad, players in groups will need swap in and out of using Wiimotes and the gamepad. This decision ensures people are familiar with the device and it quickly becomes second nature. As a proof of concept for the gamepad, Nintendo Land succeeds.
When the Wii U is online, Nintendo Landsí Plaza is populated with profiles of other players in the form of Miis from across the Nintendo Network (Xbox Live and PSN for the Wii U). Itís here that Nintendo Land comes alive. Visiting Miis meander about the Plaza, silently sharing their contentions via thought bubbles above their heads. Through these chance encounters it is possible to connect with random players and add new friends, however it is disappointing that there is no online play available for Nintendoland, especially since some of the best games canít be played unless there are at least two players on the one console.
Nintendo Land is all about the mini-games and has a tonne of variety. All Nintendoís biggest franchises are here, including critical and commercial successes that feel like a toe in the water by the Big N to gauge our interest in mothballed franchises such as F-Zero. Market research via polished mini-games is something I can get behind. To this end, games are split up into three categories; Team Attractions, Solo Attractions and Competitive Attractions and are all available from the outset.
Team Attractions offer some of the richest experiences Nintendo Land has to offer, providing a variety of gameplay types for groups or a single player. Of these the true standout is Pikmin Adventure: Tame the Wilderness. For my money, the Pikmin game is worth the price of admission for Nintendo Land alone.
Team Attractions are where you will spend most of your time, even if you are playing Nintendo Land single player due to the strength of the solo content (ironic, right?). There are reasonably strong Metroid and Zelda themed games joining the Pikmin one, with Metroid offering team deathmatch for multiplayer groups. Be mindful though, that as you add more players you will need to dig up a Wiimote and in some cases a nunchuck for each.
Solo Attractions are fairly simple games and are the most Wii Sports-like, there's an F-Zero racing game that requires the player turn the tablet on its side and steer the vehicle - not a very enjoyable experience when they could have opted for a conventional stick-and-triggers racer.
The best game in Solo Attractions is Balloon Trip Breeze where players will guide their air-balloon powered Mii across a scrolling stage. The art style is reminiscent of Kirby's Epic Yarn and Little Big Planet. Crossing a difficult section and landing on a dais (echoing classic Mario platformers, complete with flag and victory jingle on completion) is incredibly compelling.
For groups of four players, some of the best experiences in Nintendo Land are certainly the Competitive Attractions. These pit the player with the gamepad against players armed with Wiimotes in a range of games which rely on similar mechanics, principally hide/seek/chase, and they do well to foster great rivalries in a short period of time.
Mario Chase: The Great Getaway sees players with Wiimotes (in Toad cosplay) chase the player with the gamepad (dressed as Mario). It's a very simple but clever concept and has the capacity to bring together a group of people to collaborate as a team.
The other notable mention in the Competitive Attractions is Animal Crossing Sweet Day: Eat and Run. Again, this game makes use of the hide-and-seek concept, but in this case players must collect and gobble sweets through their horrifically cute animal caps while avoiding two guards armed with novelty cutlery. Both guards are controlled by the player with the gamepad simultaneously, with each guard navigated around the maze by a separate thumbstick.
Much like the majority of the games in Nintendo Land, it sounds easy in theory but takes practice.
Aside from being packed in with the Premium Wii U Nintendo Land has little in common with Wii Sports - it doesnít have that same intuitive level of control and yet offers a deeper gameplay experience. This is due in part to the gamepad, but itís also because of the need for multiple control mechanics and methods for each game. Variety is great, but not when it causes confusion for new and novice players.
Nintendo has gone to great lengths to ensure players have tooltips at their fingertips, providing players with access to current objectives and control schemes for each game on the gamepad at the start of each mission. Of course, players without the gamepad don't receive any tooltips prior to the game starting. This imbalance could frustrate or foster conversation and mayhem, which feels like the end goal of Nintendo Land. Being silly and having fun.
People will continue to question whether or not Nintendo should have forgone Nintendo Land and instead given the new Wii U owner Wii bowling 2.0. Instead of an accessible one-trick-pony, Nintendo Land introduces players to the essence of Nintendo. Not just the characters, but the sounds, colours and intricate level of detail that continues to fuel our nostalgia after all these years.
Nintendo Land oozes with familiarity and might even alert some of the most ardent players to gems they may have missed. With that in mind I have a number of Pikmin games to acquire and devour.