Nintendo Land is a collection of mini-games, some of which are focused on single-player gameplay, but mostly aimed for multiplayer to display possible play styles for the Wii U console. Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, F-Zero, Pikmin, Game & Watch, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, and ninjas are all themes that you’ll find in this Nintendo theme park, and each carry a relatively different way to utilize the GamePad controller. If you want more people playing with or against you, be sure to have several Wii Remote Plus and Nunchuck attachments in hand, as the first generation Wii remotes won’t work without the MotionPlus attachment.
First off, for the Mario minigame, the goal is to either catch the GamePad user’s Mii, or to run away from Wii remote-wielding Toad and Yoshi users. It’s a relatively simple game, and it’s riddled with obstacles like mud and slides.
Next up is The Legend of Zelda’s Battle Quest, which allows the GamePad user to shoot with a bow and arrow, and Wii remote users to fight using swords. This is one of the much more interesting experiences, as you’ll have to work alongside each other to ensure that the GamePad user doesn’t shoot the sword users as you progress through each enemy-filled level.
Metroid’s mini-game is also one of the game’s most notable games, as the GamePad user will be maneuvering a ship, while Mii remote users control a lone Samus. Competitive modes are included in this minigame, as players will be pitted against one another, though the one with a ship can be considered as having a significant advantage.
For F-Zero, you’ll be playing by using the GamePad sideways, tilting the screen as a means to control your ship across a wide variety of obstacles. Like the classic F-Zero, you’ll slow down if you hit any obstacles, and speed up if you run past speed-boosting arrows. If you don’t make it to the finish line in time, or if you fall of the course, however, you’re game ends, so the goal is to go as long as possible.
Pikmin essentially follows the same formula as the games in its series; the GamePad user plays the role of Captain Olimar, and the other players play Pikmin. The player controlling Olimar will throw their Pikmin at various enemies, and can also retract all Pikmin if imminent danger arrives.
Game & Watch’s dance minigame is perhaps one of the weirdest, most simple games in this collection, as you’ll be utilizing both analog sticks and the GamePad’s gyroscope capabilities to match moves demonstrated by Mr. Game & Watch himself. The game pays homage to classic rhythm-based Simon Says games, and it’s kinda hilarious seeing the player’s expression through the GamePad’s camera, which is displayed in the background on a revolving submarine.
Balloon Trip’s minigame will play out just like the single player mode, except quite a bit more detail and more variables. Just like the classic game, you’ll be collecting balloons, bubbles, and stomping on freshly hatched duck eggs, as well as avoiding dangerous obstacles. There’s a twist this time, however, as you’ll have to navigate from Point A to Point B, making precise landings for more points. The task isn’t as easy as it would seem, however, because weather conditions have been thrown in, either making you significantly faster, or dampering your visibility.
Donkey Kong’s obstacle course will make the player utilize the Gamepad’s gyroscope functions, as you attempt to guide your fragile cart across a series of obstacles, which can be easily manipulated through various buttons, analog stick motions, and even by blowing in to the GamePad’s microphone. This is a small, yet quite addicting game that showcases how responsive the Gamepad’s 9-axis gyroscope is.
Yoshi’s minigame is quite interesting as well, as you’ll have to utilize a few cues from the TV screen to maneuver your location from Point A to Point B, while collecting fruit and avoiding pit traps. The levels get progressively harder, but at times, you’ll find Warp Doors to skip a few levels. Keep in mind, however, that your scores will be significantly lower if you skip a few levels.
The ninja-themed minigame is perhaps my all time favorite in this mix, because, well, it’s ninjas. You’ll hold the Gamepad similar to the way held in the F-Zero minigame, but you’ll swipe your finger across the screen to shoot ninja stars at paper ninjas. As you progress through the game, you’ll gain new powers by drawing simple figures on the GamePad, such as bombs or a short time-slow effect. If a ninja gets to close, you simply need to make a simple gesture, and you’ll hack and slash with your hidden sword.
The main hub of the park itself is quite interesting as well, and it flourishes the more you play. Of course, the first few times that you play the game, you’ll be greeted by a robot that strangely resembles GLaDOS from the Portal series. The instructions can get relatively tedious, but stop about the 3rd time you fire up the game. Nevertheless, as you earn coins for playing the various attraction’s minigames, you’ll be able to fuel another game, which is essentially Plinko, to gain prizes such as music for a jukebox or various decorative trophies that’ll be scattered throughout your park. By connecting to the Internet, random Miis will also be able to “visit” your park, making you feel like being in an authentic Nintendo theme park. It’s a nice touch, even though it’s quite minor, but it does help promote Nintendo’s continued strive in to the online-connected world.
Is it worth the $59.99 USD MSRP? Probably not, so you’re better off simply buying the Deluxe version, which comes with Nintendo Land packed-in. It is worth checking out at some point, however, because it really demonstrates the various play styles that can be possible with the Wii U’s dual-screen play. You’ll definitely want to grab a few friends to play along/against you, as a fraction of the games do require more than one player. This is, above all, a social game that perfectly demonstrates the Wii U’s capabilities.