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Feature | Nintendo Land - Wii U's Answer to Wii Sports?

Nintendo had Wii Sports to show off the initial motion controls of the Wii Remote, followed by Wii Sports Resort that successfully made use of the Wii Remote Plus extremely intuitive. In fact, even Wii Fit was a superb example of how best to make use of the Balance Board in games. However, with Wii U on the cusp of release around the world, many are still wondering how user-friendly the special GamePad will be, with hopes being pinned on Nintendo Land to explain matters. The team at Cubed3 sit down to look at the games included in this festival of all things Nintendo to see just how well it works.

Image for Feature | Nintendo Land - Wii U

Jorge Baoh, Managing Director

When Nintendo first revealed the bright lights and bustling world of Nintendo Land at E3 2012 I admit I was confused. The début of one of the biggest franchise mash-ups came at the end of the presentation proceedings, and there was certainly some uncertainty about just what this game is.
 
Would Nintendo Land be the play once, throwaway DVD of this forthcoming Wii U generation? Certainly not. At first glance, the concept looks like your standard mini-game affair with Nintendo themes and Mii spread on top, but sitting down and taking in the real vibrancy and depth of Nintendo Land you realise that this is something rather special indeed. The appeal of these iconic and some more obscure video game franchises is the lure into what Nintendo does best -- video game concepts that are well crafted and make sense with the controller in mind.
 
Wii Sports was the game that explained exactly what the Wii Remote did in a nutshell -- you swing, poke, point, swipe and the on-screen avatar does the same. Throw in a set of sports that everybody knows, add in Mii and out pops the perfect introductory package. Despite having single player appeal, Wii Sports was the game for multiplayer and is still a fallback game even five years on. However, Nintendo Land has a far trickier time getting the concept across, especially in advertising the GamePad.

Image for Feature | Nintendo Land - Wii U


A lot of what the game does well relies on the setup -- there should be a good three or four players around to get the gist of why the new controller is a game-changing device. The asymmetric gameplay does need to be tried to be fully appreciated and the range of attractions on offer cover a wide range of bases. Luigi's Ghost Mansion and Animal Crossing: Sweet Day are two of the more competitive examples. We have tried being the predator and the prey in these games; it's viciously addictive, but again needs to be played to be conveyed.
 
Team work is definitely key in these games and as you progress, the appeal for asymmetry comes into stronger focus. These could certainly evolve into their own standalone games or at least offer a fully-fleshed experience as multiplayer extras. Other team-based games include Zelda: Battle Quest and Metroid Blast -- the former being surprisingly deep despite being on-rails. Pump arrows into enemies, working co-operatively to get through the level. I failed several times, darn those pesky Moblins! Donkey Kong's Crash Course and Takamaru's Ninja Castle lead the single-player attractions, showing more sides to the controller; tilting and swiping to victory. Likewise, in Balloon Trip Breeze you get two different camera views to the traditional Balloon Fight gameplay.
 
Will Nintendo Land have the same impact as Wii Sports? Perhaps, but it certainly has a bigger hill to climb and a lot more to get across. There's plenty on offer here, especially now we've gotten an idea of the complete list of games -- a solid balance of single and multiplayer concepts to sink your teeth into. The Nintendo themes are just the icing on the cake.
 

Adam Riley, Operations Director

Anyone wanting to know more about the initial five mini-games shown off can read more about them in Cubed3's hands-on with Nintendo Land earlier this year. However, other than the impressive touch-screen Shuriken-shooting shenanigans Takamura's Ninja Castle, the Pac-Man Vs.-like Luigi's Ghost Mansion, the simultaneous two-character-control of Animal Crossing: Sweet Day on the GamePad, the team-work antics of The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, and the dastardly tough tilt trials of Donkey Kong: Crash Course, there are seven other main attractions to be found in what Nintendo hopes will be the entry-level product that sells the idea of Wii U to all and sundry.

Image for Feature | Nintendo Land - Wii U


The question is, are there equally as enjoyable as the first five selected for public viewing. In truth, watching many of these experiences in video format really does not do them justice in the slightest, as it is only when jumping into the crazy action. Metroid Blast has several map styles to play through, with one person on the GamePad controlling a spaceship and others in Samus Aran outfits running around treacherous landscapes, and the winner being the one to survive the longest. There is also an assault mission where up to five players can work through together to achieve objectives. It works in the same addictive way that Animal Crossing: Sweet Day does, with the right mix of one-upmanship and teamwork, making for yet another winner on the addiction front. Captain Falcon's Twister Race is an intriguing one since it brings what many would hope is a high-octane racing experience into the realm of family entertainment. Therefore, gone are the hard-hitting, edgy tunes, along with the breakneck pace of previous games, and in comes a slower, more newcomer-friendly futuristic experience that merely highlights the sensitivity of the GamePad perfectly, as seen in Donkey Kong: Crash Course, for dodging around the many obstacles littering the courses.
 
Mario Chase, which was seen as Chase Mii from E3 a while back, has the person holding the GamePad playing as Mario with the ultimate goal to avoid the other characters chasing around. The view on the GamePad is split into two, with a smaller view of the whole map and where the others are (all dressed as Toads), as well as a closer viewpoint so running around is easy enough. Mario Chase is a much simpler version of the Luigi's Mansion and Sweet Day, so acts as the perfect entry-level title for all-comers. The problem is that should this one be played one-on-one, trying to catch Mario becomes almost impossible, and the action grows tiresome quickly. Pikmin Adventure is far more intriguing, bashing away at obstacles, using special items, and ultimately working through the stage as quickly as possible to beat the big boss and escape.

Image for Feature | Nintendo Land - Wii U


Balloon Trip Breeze: Float with the Wind! is a stylus-based mini-game where one player guides the little character with balloons on his back across from right-to-left, collecting items, dodging obstacles, taking out enemies, fighting against Mother Nature, and generally having patience and skill levels challenged on the way to the end of level 'Goal.' As with Crash Course, this is certainly a strong test of an individual's ability. Octopus Dance is based on the old Game & Watch title, but this time works in an almost Just Dance fashion with the motion ability of the GamePad used to mimic on-screen dance moves. Finally, Yoshi's Fruit Cart is actually a great way of using both GamePad and TV screen in tandem, with numbered fruit and death-traps littered around the field shown on the television. However, the touch screen is where Yoshi's path must be drawn out, á la Yoshi Touch & Go, with only a limited amount of drawing allowed and nothing shown on the GamePad other than the start and end positions. The fifty or so levels in this definitely make for some tough challenges!
 
Overall, Nintendo Land is certainly a mixed bag in terms of whether or not it manages to show off all the nuances of the new control scheme and interactivity between the GamePad and TV set. There are certainly some great examples of how to play one-against-four, clever use of the motion controls, and impressive dual-TV-and-GamePad play, so in that respect at least it does indeed offer a wide range of options for all players. Whether or not it proves to be equally as accessible as something like Wii Sports or Wii Sports Resort, though, is still a matter for debate. Undoubtedly, however, Nintendo Land looks to be a fantastic package.
 

Rudy Lavaux, Retro Editor

When Nintendo Land was first announced and shown, the word that summed up how I felt about it would be..."unimpressed." This hasn't changed much so far. Sure, it's a pleasure to see your Miis running around inside Nintendo-themed attractions, wearing Link or Samus outfits, at long last in glorious HD. However, beyond that, I have yet to see where the fun of it all lies. Bear in mind that, unlike most of the staff here, I have yet to try it out, which I doubt will be possible until the game is actually released.

Image for Feature | Nintendo Land - Wii U


Most of the mini-games in it leave me with an impression of missed potential. Only a handful of them really caught my interest, such as the Metroid and F-Zero ones, because they actually well represent the type of gameplay of the original creations...sort of. The Metroid one bears an uncanny resemblance to the Battle Mii gameplay demo from E3 2011, which I quite liked at the time. The Animal Crossing one seems like a further development of the old Chase Mii demo, though, which was something that I could picture as really fun, if perhaps a bit repetitive and potentially boring in the long run.
 
Back to Nintendo Land in general; the Donkey Kong game? Seriously? It could have been themed after just about anything, and has nothing to do with Donkey Kong beyond the look of the field that sort of reminds of the general look of the arcade classic, with its levels made of red girders. I would have much preferred something more platform-oriented for that one. Take a look at the Luigi's Mansion game in Nintendo Land. That's more fitting of bearing the name of the series it's from. That's the issue I have with this game. Some of the attractions don't make sense to me and they look like they are just some generic mini-games with a Nintendo franchise slapped on top for kicks and giggles...or more like "for money."

Image for Feature | Nintendo Land - Wii U


I can see what Nintendo is trying to do, by trying to make a party game based on not only one of its franchises, but pretty much all of them, right from launch, to appeal to all the old fans out there. However, it just fails to appeal to the hardcore fan inside of me. It's a good thing that it comes bundled with the premium packages of the system (although right now I'm more tempted by the ZombiU premium bundle that apparently lacks Nintendo Land), because right now I want it for the couple mini-games that I really enjoyed seeing, but don't really want to pay for it at full price when most of the mini-games I've seen don't appeal to me at all. This might change once it's released and I can get my hands on it through some friends who would buy it and let me try it out though, but for now label me as a sceptical.
 

FINAL VERDICT

Clearly Nintendo Land is being lined up as a game similar in nature to Wii Play, with some circles absolutely loving how simplistic most of the mini-games are to just jump into alone or with up to four other friends. In the same breath, there are going to be many that are put off by how empty a lot of the experiences seem to be, despite the 'hardcore' solo modes thrown into the mix. The aim with Nintendo Land was seemingly to sell the Wii U's features to gamers, and in part it does that well thanks to the sheer range of mini-games on offer. However, it also fails to make the same instant connection as Wii Sports and Wii Fit. Whatever the case, though, Nintendo likely has a smash hit on its hands!
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05.11.2012 23:18

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Tom (guest) 06.11.2012 00:37#1

Rudy Lavaux, Retro Editor"When Nintendo Land was first announced and shown, the word that summed up how I felt about it would be..."unimpressed." This hasn't changed much so far. Sure, it's a pleasure to see your Miis running around inside Nintendo-themed attractions, wearing Link or Samus outfits, at long last in glorious HD. However, beyond that, I have yet to see where the fun of it all lies. Bear in mind that, unlike most of the staff here, I have yet to try it out, which I doubt will be possible until the game is actually released."

Smilie

I really liked wii sports and pretty much hated wii play, so i'm hoping nintendoland feels a bit more fleshed out than wii plays very basic minigames

M (guest) 06.11.2012 02:36#3

I agree with some of these points raised. Nintendo Land has to be tried before you really "get it". The Zelda one with 3 players is SO GOOD. Not gaming changing as Wii Sports but still a sick package.

Why is Rudy Lavaux even a part of this article? At least he is honest about it, but someone who hasn't even played the game should be in this article, especially when the other two contributors both emphasize that the games need to actually be played to understand and enjoy.

I came to read about people experience with the game - not someone's experience watching the exact same videos I have already seen several times.

Rob64 (guest) 06.11.2012 07:46#5

What are you guys on about in the comments? I think it's clear what the purpose is; give a direct comparison between the thoughts of someone that has only seen the games and those that have played it. Do you honestly think 99% of punters will actually go hands-on or just  see a running video in-store? It's made clear that unless you actually play this, you'll think it looks rubbish.

As for Wii Sports, first time I watched a video for that I got it straight away. This? Hmm, really not too sure.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I think Rudy's commentary definitely highlights the big problem that Nintendo is facing with Nintendo Land. Unless the game is bundled with the system, many people will take one look at the trailers and instantly be turned off. Jorge and I played the game, so all that can be hoped is that the positive feedback from people like us encourages people like Rudy to give it a try.

This is more like an in-depth version of Wii Play, to be honest, rather than a Wii Sports or Wii Fit. Lots of mini-games that make use of different Wii U features, but with greater content than the extremely shallow and repetitive Wii Play.

Have any of you had chance to try the game at the UK Showcase events that have been going on?

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Staff Member

I personally think Nintendo Land looks great. A bunch of Nintendo games rolled into one and I really love the art style. Even if it turns out that I don't play it a lot, at least I'll be getting it as a bonus with the Premium console.

I reckon I'll probably play this one a lot with friends and family, might even take the Wii U downstairs at Christmas and play it with the family. Though that all depends on what happens with my current situation and what I'll actually be doing for Christmas.

I really like the look of the Metroid and Zelda games in this, so I will probably get a good bit of enjoyment out of it playing solo. But yeah, definitely gonna be one of those games to get out for family get togethers and such. Smilie

Adam Riley said:
I think Rudy's commentary definitely highlights the big problem that Nintendo is facing with Nintendo Land. Unless the game is bundled with the system, many people will take one look at the trailers and instantly be turned off.

This is the most surprising part of the article for me - that there seems to be a consensus with the cubed3 writers that people will be "turned off" from looking at trailers for this game. Obviously everyone has different tastes in games, but the notion that people will actually be turned off seems a little bit ridiculous.

AdamC3 (guest) 08.11.2012 08:29#9

Tell me, why is it so ridiculous? Have you never looked at a trailer for a game or movie only to then play/see it and find your opinion was different? Of course everyone has their own opinion, and in saying that, we also have our own opinion stated above in this article.

What is your opinion after seeing all of the games in action? You've critiqued the article yet not actually given your thoughts so far...

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Sonic_13 said:
This is the most surprising part of the article for me - that there seems to be a consensus with the cubed3 writers that people will be "turned off" from looking at trailers for this game. Obviously everyone has different tastes in games, but the notion that people will actually be turned off seems a little bit ridiculous.

I don't think there's a consensus at all - a trailer can only build up a certain level of excitement really.

The rest comes from playing it - especially with a game like this. The whole four player, asymmetric approach only really clicked for me when I gave it a go. That said I was excited and did understand what Nintendo were trying to do before playing, don't get me wrong, but it only cemented this understanding once playing the game.

With something like Zelda, where we already have this understanding of what it would feel like playing and the concepts around it, it's different.

As Adam says, people take to trailers and adverts differently - and hey, playing it you may still not like what you're seeing. But what we're trying to say here is that there's so much that can be shown and explained in video compared to trying it first hand.

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I totally agree, Jorge. There are a couple of trailers that do make it look interesting, but tastes differ. For instance, some may think the Donkey Kong Crash Course looks too simplistic, yet it's the sort of thing I love. Testing your concentration skills by carefully tilting the GamePad looks great fun, and thankfully I've had the added benefit of trying it to know my initial eyes-on impressions were indeed correct.

I'm intrigued to hear what people are most looking forward to from Nintendo Land!

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Nintendo Land is a game that I am looking forward to, and I actually think it will be better than Wii Sports. Between this and Tekken Tag Tournament 2, I will have a lot to play between November 30th and Christmas.
Captain Falcon's Twister Race and Metroid Blast look like a lot of fun, and Takamaru's Ninja Castle looks interesting as well. I hope this game has DLC, because there are so many other franchises that deserve to be represented.

( Edited 11.11.2012 10:11 by Lew3107 )

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Lew3107 said:
Nintendo Land is a game that I am looking forward to, and I actually think it will be better than Wii Sports. Between this and Tekken Tag Tournament 2, I will have a lot to play between November 30th and Christmas.

Interesting! I also think there will be more longevity than Wii Sports, definitely. I think that game hit home because of the novelty factor. Launching with that now probably wouldn't have as much impact.

Captain Falcon's Twister Race and Metroid Blast look like a lot of fun, and Takamaru's Ninja Castle looks interesting as well. I hope this game has DLC, because there are so many other franchises that deserve to be represented.

The F-Zero game is definitely up my street. I'm intrigued to see just how much Miyamoto-san's influence has had on it on the whole.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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