In the first of our massive volume of Wii U preview coverage, Lee takes a look at NintendoLand. The results may surprise you.
I’m sorry Nintendo, I take back the bad things I’ve said about you recently. You see, when Satoru Iwata graced the E3 stage with a bunch of weird cardboard cutout tents, I thought things were a little odd. When it was revealed that this was all in aid of the announcement of NintendoLand, I wondered what the big reveal was going to be. Then, when I realised that Nintendoland WAS the big reveal for the press briefing, I thought Nintendo had lost it.
Now that all of that E3 hysteria has left my body, my rage has subsided and I feel a warm aura of calm. You see; I’ve now played NintendoLand, and it’s actually pretty bloody good.
NintendoLand serves the same purpose for the Wii U that Wii Sports did for its predecessor. It’s a bundle of mini-games that were designed to demonstrate the Wii U’s new GamePad, and the concept of “asymmetrical gameplay”, and yes, I’m already fed up of that term too. It makes sense for me to speak individually about all the mini-games we know about:
Donkey Kong’s Crash Course – Single Player
The first game I’ll be talking about, is the first experience I had with the Wii U. Crash Course is a punishing, yet strangely addictive game that involves tilting the Wii U GamePad left or right to move a cart from the top of the screen to the bottom, while traversing some tricky slopes, lifts and other obstacles. In addition to tilt controls, the L & R buttons are used to activate lifts or other objects in order to reach the goal. An overview of the play area is shown on the TV (for spectators to look at and give advice), while the screen on the GamePad gives a closer view for the play.
It all sounds simple, but in reality the cart is an incredibly fragile thing; tilt too fast (or too slow) and you’ll crash and lose a life. While there are checkpoints to go back to, these are few and far between. It’s deceptively punishing, but I found myself having a few “one more go” moments before moving onto other games.
Luigi’s Ghost Mansion – Up To Five Players
Now we come to one of my favourite games so far. One person – using the GamePad – plays as the Ghost, who must rid the mansion of players by touching them, while up to four other people control – using old-fashioned Wii remotes – ghost hunters that must dispatch the Ghost by shining their torches at it. This would be simple if it wasn’t for the fact that the humans can’t actually see the ghost on the TV screen, while the Ghost can see everything on the GamePad. The human character’s torches only have a certain amount of battery power (which is replenished using batteries), but they can also revive fallen comrades, but this takes time and makes you incredibly vulnerable to attack.
What follows is a ridiculously fun stealth game for the Ghost player, or a family-friendly survival horror for the others. While the Ghost cannot be seen by the hunters, they know when it is around as their Wii remotes rumble. Occasionally the ghost can be seen if it dashes or the room is illuminated by lightning, which can lead to some good opportunities for creating ambushes.
As the ghost I was the spectral Solid Snake, as I picked off each hunter one by one, coming out of nowhere to grab my hapless victims. It’s the kind of game that you can’t help but smile and laugh as you play and it’s definitely the best multiplayer experience I’ve had on the Wii U thus far.
Animal Crossing: Sweet Day – Up To Five Players
Sweet Day was also pretty fun. Up to four players with Wii remotes team up to collect 50 pieces of candy, which are found by standing on pressure pads. Meanwhile, the player with the GamePad controls two characters, armed with giant cutlery – one controlled with the left analog stick, the other with the right – who has to catch the candy thieves three times. The more candy the thieves eat, the slower they move, which means a modicum of strategy is required; do you spit out the candy into a pile and collect later on, or do you take your chances and hope you can escape from the guard with the giant fork?
A simple idea, and there’s a bit of fun to be had in controlling two characters at once to trap players, although it doesn’t have the addictive nature of some of the other mini-games.
The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest – Up To Four Players
The best way to describe Battle Quest, is that it plays similarly to PlayStation Move title Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest, only Battle Quest is better. Up to four players automatically move in a linear path through an environment, while fighting off regular ambushes from enemies. Up to three players are swordsmen that use their Wii remotes to hack-and-slash enemies, while the GamePad wielder is the archer, using the tablet controller to target and fire enemies from afar.
As an on-rails game it plays pretty well, the Archer’s ability to look around, as opposed to the Swordsmen’s fixed view, is invaluable when seeing threats all from all around, bringing a sense of teamwork to proceedings.
Takamaru’s Ninja Castle – Single Player
We finish with probably my least favourite mini-game in NintendoLand. Ninja Castle is akin to a lightgun game from yesteryear; Duck Hunt springs to mind. Using the GamePad in a vertical orientation, you control an on-screen reticle by pointing the GamePad at the screen, while swiping the touch screen towards to television to fire Shurikens at marauding ninjas.
It’s a perfectly competent mini-game, although it’s the weakest in terms of showing what the Wii U GamePad can do.
From what I have played so far, NintendoLand is a decent collection of mini-games that do a relatively good job of introducing the Wii U GamePad to newcomers. But like Wii Sports, it simply needs to be packed in with the console, as I wouldn’t buy it separately. As my first experience with the Wii U console, it was a very positive one, something I honestly wasn’t expecting.
Stay tuned to GodisaGeek for plenty more on Nintendo’s Wii U, including a third party roundup as well as lots more.