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Game Review: Nintendo Land

December 23, 2012

(NOTE: Due to lack of Controllers, the game was not played to its full potential. Multiplayer was played with at least two people, so every part was tried out. But the full five player experience was unable to happen due to a lack of Wii Motion Plus Controllers.

Also, this game came with the Wii U Deluxe Console. There is no difference between retail/eShop versions and this version, although this one lacks Club Nintendo code for those interested in it.)

Nintendo Land is essentially the Wii Sports of the Wii U, in that it helps you get a better idea of how you’ll be able to use the Wii U Gamepad, as well as show how it can be used when playing with other people playing with Wii Motion Plus Controllers (Yes, your regular Wii Remotes that you collected won’t work with the Wii U unless they have that little attachment thing. So much for all that money I spent over the past 6 years!)

The game comes with a variety of mini-games covering the various Nintendo Franchises the company has in a theme park of all places. Aided by the Robot Assistance/Theme Park Manager Monita, you and your friends are able to travel across this theme park to play various mini-games based on each of the big franchises (except Pokemon). As you play each game, you’ll be able to collect coins to use in a special mini game where you need to fill slots to complete a level. Each level you complete will earn you a mystery box that will allow you to put down special items in the park’s main area. If you’re into collecting things in game, it’s a fun little feature to motivate you to play Nintendo Land more.

I should note that Online Play is not available for Nintendo Land. The game will interact with Miiverse, as other people’s Miis come into the park and show comments from people. However, if you want to play multiplayer, you’ll need people in your own home to play. That being said, if you want the maximum enjoyment of the multiplayer games, it’s probably best to play this way.

Let’s run through the mini games, shall we?

Single Player Games:

Yoshi’s Fruit Cart: This is a fun little mini-game that involves using both the gamepad and the tv. On the screen are fruits that you must collect in order to open a door on the screen. Using the TV as a reference, you must direct your Mii/Yoshi to each fruit and eventually to the door once you collect them all. Your Gamepad won’t show any items, so you’ll need to use the TV as a reference. As you play, other obstacles such as pits (which also won’t appear on the Gamepad) as well as numbered flags requiring you to collect certain items first will appear. This is a fun little mini game that helps you slowly get used to using your TV and Gamepad like a Nintendo DS/3DS. I’m not sure how long it will hold your interest though, your millage may vary.

Octopus Dance: Based on the old Game and Watch games, this is a classic “follow-the-leader/monkey-see-monkey-do” kind of game. Using the Gamepad, you must copy the on-screen dancers movements. It will involve you sometimes using the control sticks to more your character, and sometimes physically moving the gamepad. You don’t necessarily need to use the TV to play this game, but there is something important to note; the on-screen dancer will flip your character many times, which may mess up what you think is the right combo to beat the round. The TV will always show the opposite side of your character, so when you get flipped, you should look at the screen you weren’t using to see the correct side. Only use the gamepad without the TV when you’ve mastered the mini-game. The mini-game is ok, although it may not hold your interest for very long.

Donkey Kong’s Crash Course: This game involves you using a cart like contraption and moving it through mazes in order to reach the end. Instead of using control sticks, you’ll have to turn your gamepad to speed up or slow down your cart. If your cart rams into a wall or falls off a ledge, it will break and you’ll lose a life. You’ll also need to use buttons on the gamepad, as well as it’s mic (similar to the original DS) and blow into it to advance through the game. Blowing into the mic can get annoying. You are basically using the gamepad the entire time, so you don’t need to use the TV to play this game. So if another person is using the TV, you can still play this game using just the gamepad. This is probably my favorite of the single player games. As for how long it will hold your interest, your millage may vary.

Takamaru’s Ninja Castle: This game has you throwing ninja stars at on screen opponents. You will have to turn the gamepad sideways (which side will depend on whether you are left or right handed) and touch the screen to play the game, while looking at the tv to see when enemy ninjas are coming. You’ll need to make a flicking motion on the gamepad’s touch screen in order to attack enemies. Obviously, you can’t play this game without the TV on. I found this game to be very frustrating to play, although I have heard people have a blast with this game as well. Your millage may vary.

Captain Falcon’s Twister Race: This game involves you using the gamepad sideways and tilting it order to adjust your racer’s position and speed. On the gamepad you’ll be looking from above at your racer, while on the TV you’ll see your racer from behind. Get your racer to the goal as fast as you can before the timer stops to win the round. The game tells you it is best to just look at the gamepad throughout the game unless you enter a tunnel, in which you may want to look at the TV. I haven’t tried it, but I suppose experts could potentially look at the TV the entire time and play the game that way. Considering the way you play and the game’s instructions, you can probably play this game without having the TV on/if someone else is using it. I thought the game was ok, but could be frustrating at times. Your millage may vary.

Balloon Trip Breeze: If you have ever played the game Balloon Trip, this is pretty much the same game. Using the stylus, you’ll need to direct your player across the level without hitting into objects/enemies or falling into the sea. You can also destroy objects/enemies by touching them. The gamepad won’t show the entire area but instead just focus on your player and everything right next to him/her. The TV will show the entire level, so you should be focusing there. For this reason, it is not recommended you play this with the gamepad only/if the TV is used by someone else. This game is fun to play and is pretty addictive. If you’re a Balloon Trip fan, I think you’ll have a blast with this game. Otherwise, for how long it holds your interest, your millage may vary.

Cooperative Multiplayer Games (NOTE: You can play these on your own/compete with others):

The Legend of Zelda Battle Quest: This mini game has two selectable modes, Quest and Time Attack.

Quest (Can be played with 1-4 Players): Using the Gamepad to play with a bow and arrows, and the Wii Motion Plus Controllers to play with Swords, you must fight your way through enemies to find the Triforce. Due to the lack of controllers, I skipped this mode and instead just played Time Attack, so see below for my personal thoughts on game. From what I’ve been told by others/seen online, the game is decent, but not very enjoyable. You are playing an on-rails game instead of moving around on your own.

Time Attack (Can ONLY be played solo): This is a defeat as many enemies as possible game. Only the Gamepad can be used to play, so you’ll only be playing with a bow and arrows. I found the game very frustrating to play solo, as well as not that entertaining period. Those who master Quest mode with the bow and arrows and want a challenge may enjoy it though.

Pikmin Adventure: This mini game has two selectable modes, Challenge and Versus.

Challenge (This is a cooperative mini game, can be played Solo): Due to lack of controllers, I played this mode solo. The Gamepad player will be Captain Olimar who controllers a small group of Pikmin. Wii Motion Plus players will be Miis in Pikmin Costumes. (NOTE: When Solo, a CPU will control a Mii) Your objective is to make it through the level fighting enemies and throwing Pikmin at walls to make it to the Boss of the level. Just like in Pikmin, you must throw your Pikmin at enemies to defeat them, and make sure you don’t die from enemy creatures. If your Pikmin die, they will automatically revive. Make sure both you and your Mii Pikmin don’t die at the same time and you should be ok. I found the game to be a blast to play, but that may be from my addiction to all things Pikmin. I think though with a group of friends, this should be a blast to play.

Versus (This is a competitive mode, you MUST have 2 or more people to play): I did not get a chance to try this mode due to lack of people/controllers. This involves the Gamepad player facing off with the Pikmin to collect items I believe. First one to get the total needed to win, wins. I believe you can steal from the other side. Enemies will come down and attack both sides. I’ve heard mixed opinions about this game mode. Your millage may vary.

Metroid Blast: This mini game has three selectable modes, Assault Mission, Surface-Air Combat, and Ground Battle. (WARNING: All Wii Motion Plus Controllers MUST have nunchuk attachments to play)

Assault Mission (Up to five players, you can play Solo): I did not get a chance to try out with multiple people due to lack of Wii Motion Plus controllers and nunchuk attachments I did not have on me at the time. The gamepad player will be playing in Samus’s ship, while everyone else plays as a Mii in Samus’s suit. You’ll be working together to hit targets and enemies. Flying the ship with the Gamepad is really fun. I can not speak for playing as the Samus Mii, but controls should be the same for those who played Metroid Prime on Wii before. The game recommends that only advance players try this out.

Surface-Air Combat (You MUST have two or more people to play. This is a competitive mode): I did not have any nunchuk attachments, nor the right amount of controllers/people to play this mode. This is the Wii Motion Plus Players vs The Gamepad player, or Samus Miis versus Samus’s Ship Player. See recommendations on controlling both above.

Ground Battle (You MUST have two or more people to play. The Wii Gamepad CAN NOT be used in this mode, so only 4 people can play. All players are against each other): This is a free-for-all Samus Mii showdown. No Samus Ships allowed, so the Gamepad is out. See recommendation for Samus Mii controls above. Since I do not have more than one Wii Motion Plus, did not have access to my nunchuk attachments, and lacked the appropriate people, I couldn’t try this mode.

Competitive Multiplayer Games (NOTE: You must have at least two people to play): These were the only games I got to try out with a second person. It is recommend if you have more Wii Motion Plus controllers than I did to try these games out with Multiple People. These games are the reason to get Nintendo Land.

Mario Chase: A very basic game of tag, but is by far the most addicting game of the bunch. Anyone who has played this game agrees that this is the best of the mini-games Nintendo Land has to offer. The person who has the Gamepad will control the Mario Mii, while the Wii Motion Plus players use Toad Miis (NOTE: If you have only one or two Toad Miis, one or two Yoshis will assist you to ensure the Mario Mii is running away from at least 3 people.) The gamepad player will have both a window to see his character moving, as well as a view of the entire map and where the other players are so that the player can avoid others. The Toad Miis must work together to find and corner the Mario Mii player. Part of the fun is calling out where you see the Mario Mii to other players (NOTE: When the Yoshi CPUs are in game, Monita will call out the area where the Mario Mii is. There are 4 color areas, including a small platform in the middle.) Part of the way through the game, an invincibility star appears, giving Mario the chance to turn the tables and knock out the Toad Miis and Yoshi CPUs briefly. To win, the Toad Miis must tackle the Mario Mii character before time runs out. (NOTE: Yoshi CPUs only stun Mario briefly.) There are 3 different stages to play on, some with harzards to make running harder for both sides. Be sure to try this out if you get the chance. Highly recommended.

Luigi’s Ghost Mansion: A modified version of tag, but both sides are trying to get one another. The Gamepad player is a Ghost Mii, while Wii Motion Plus players are Luigi Miis with flashlights and vacuums. (NOTE: If you lack multiple people, Monita clones will assist by moving around with flashlights.) The objective is simple, either the Ghost Mii must get the Luigi Miis 3 times without being caught, or the Luigi Miis must stun and drain the Ghost Mii of life points to capture it. The TV’s shot of the mansion will have the hallways dark and the Ghost invisible (unless he is in parts of the hallway that occasionally light up for a few brief seconds.) The gamepad’s screen will show where the Ghost character is so the player and try to find ways to sneak up on the Luigi Miis. The Luigi Miis do have one way to detect the Ghost Mii though, as their Wii Motion Plus controllers will vibrate when the Ghost is near by. It is up to the player to figure out where the Ghost is, and the Ghost to find a way to sneak up on players. There are 3 different stages to play on. It is a fun game, and I recommend giving it a try.

Animal Crossing Sweet Days: A reverse version of Mario Chase, as the gamepad player will now chase the Wii Motion Plus players. Wii Motion Plus Players will control Animal Miis, and the gamepad player will control two Guard Dog Miis, each controlled using one of the control sticks and using a button to hit players with a weapon. The objective of this game is to have the Animal Miis run away from the Guard Dog Miis (NOTE: If there are limited number of players, the game will be modified to collecting candies and having the player put them in pits. They must collect 15 candies to win). The Guard Dog Miis must hit Animal Miis 3 times before time runs out to win. There are 2 different stages to play on. Like with the other two tag games, I recommend giving this a try.

Attraction Tour: This basically has you and other players play a Mario Party like Mini-Game run through all the Mini-Games Nintendo Land has to offer. You must have at least two people to play. I did not get a chance to try this out due to lack of controllers and people at the time.

Final Thoughts: For a free game that comes with the Deluxe Version of the Wii U, it’s a fun way to get used to controlling the Wii Gamepad, as well as playing with other people. Some games may entertain you for a short while, while others are great to play in groups. However, I do not think this should have been a retail game and should have been available in all Wii Us, not just the Deluxe Versions. I also think it is not worth the $60 price tag, seeing as I don’t think people will regularly go back to Nintendo Land in the future, seeing as the best games of the bunch are the tag games. Maybe if it had online support and possibly had a lower price tag, I’d recommend buying it at retail/the eShop. Still, seeing as I’ve recommend that you get the Wii U Deluxe version in my console review anyway, this is a nice addition to your system purchase. I just don’t see people going back to it as much as they did with Wii Sports. Still, it’s fun for those who love Mini Games, and if you have the right amount of controllers and people, it should be fun for get togethers, at least for a little while.

I give Nintendo Land a 3/5. It was definitely a lot better than I expected it to be when they first showed it off at E3. A very nice way to start off your Wii U Experience!

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