Platforms: Wii U
Release Date: US – November 18th 2012, EU – November 30th 2012[/wpspoiler]
Very few companies have enough of a back catalogue to plan, build and construct a theme park. Angry Birds, Disney and the Harry Potter phenomenon are some of the ginormous enterprises that clearly felt they had what it took. I’d also argue that Nintendo has more than enough history and sucess behind them to achieve something similar.
In fact Nintendo President and famous fruit holder Satoru Iwata has actually commented on a potential theme park, but said that if it were to happen it would have to be different, otherwise it would just become another normal theme park.
While the big N didn’t go down the route of building a real life theme park, we have been given a disc version of just what a Nintendo land of attractions might contain.
Despite Nintendo Land’s first impressions of being nothing more than a time wasting mini-game collection, there is a surprising amount of depth to almost all of the twelve attractions.
Zelda, Mario, F-Zero, Donkey Kong, Pikmin and others are all represented and each with an enjoyable twist on the originals. As a general rule most mini-games have several levels to playthrough – usually around 10 – and to fully understand, enjoy and complete can take anything up to a few hours.
Your first visit to Nintendo Land is accompanied by Monita, a walking talking TV screen from what I can make out. She (or is it he?) will talk you through almost every first movement you make either in the actual park or during your initial run through of a game.
There are a few single-player games but most of the fun will be had during multiplayer sessions and it’s here that Nintendo Land stands out. If you don’t have any Wiimotes you will have to fork out for them to enjoy multiplayer but if you’ve got a few friends then attractions like Mario Chase or Luigi’s Ghost Mansion can really captivate.
Nine of the attractions can be played on your own with five exclusively for single-player, but Nintendo Land was really built to be played by a group and that’s where you’ll get the most out of it.
While the GamePad itself isn’t as inviting as the Wiimote to unexperienced players, Nintendo Land does a fantastic job of introducing the controller. Each attraction makes good use of the GamePad’s features from tilting, swiping, tapping, moving and even blowing into the microphone. I’m actually surprised the game wasn’t bundled with every Wii U in much the same way Wii Sports came with every Wii.
Donkey Kong’s Crash Course has you tilting through a maze with the GamePad showing you a closer view of your position while the TV gives you an overall view.
Captain Falcon’s Twister Race see’s you using the GamePad on it’s side, tilting it to control the car on the track while the camera keeps a track of your face. There’s really no reason to track your face but it’s there anyway.
Yoshi’s Fruit Cart is a particular favourite of mine as you must draw a line to send the Yoshi Cart from it’s starting position to the goal collecting all the fruit possible. But there’s a catch, the fruit only appears on the TV screen and you’ll be drawing on the GamePad. It’s a simple idea but one that thanks to the GamePad is well executed and enjoyable.
Some games are obviously stronger than others but truth be told there doesn’t feel like a weak link. You could point at Balloon Breeze where getting your Mii from one side to the other using strokes on the GamePad to control the wind is simple enough, but that’s really the point, it’s simple, fun and effective.
Nintendo are clearly trying to strike lighting twice with Nintendo Land in the same way they struck gold with Wii Sports. While I don’t think Nintendo Land will quite have that appeal it is every bit as good at developing an understanding and use for the GamePad. Add Nintendo’s undoubted unique charm and a musical soundtrack that takes you all the way through Nintendo’s history it just adds that Nintendo magic dust to the overall package.
Nintendo Land isn’t for everyone and especially not for those of you who like a 30 to 40 hour RPG experience to mull through on your own. Nintendo Land is the party game for both gamers and (I hate to use the phrase) casual gamers. It isn’t a karaoke dance game compilation or the latest first person shooter. Nintendo Land is a game that almost anyone of all ages can truly enjoy and it comes with the quality and polish we expect from a Nintendo game.