Nintendo Land (Hands-On) (Wii U) Preview

By Adam Riley 14.06.2012 8

Review for Nintendo Land (Hands-On) on Wii U

There are always high expectations when Nintendo turns up to events, which is true testament to the quality that has poured forth from the developer over the decades, so when Nintendo Land was unveiled at this year’s E3, there was massive disappointment from many fans who wanted the likes of a new Metroid, The Legend of Zelda or even a Donkey Kong game; anything that was unexpected, but from a big-name series. However, Nintendo’s aim is to show off what the Wii U and its intriguing GamePad are all about. Cubed3 had a rigorous hands-on session with five out of the twelve games included.

The first game to try was the underdog of the bunch, Takamura’s Ninja Castle. This was a single-player effort whereby the GamePad’s touch-screen interface was used to throw stars towards the TV screen in order to knock down an onslaught of cardboard ninja creatures, each of a different colour to indicate their skill level. Holding the GamePad in the vertical position and pointing it towards the screen, the basic premise was to aim in the correct direction and quickly fling shuriken from its screen to the monitor, with stronger strokes resulting in a faster despatch and greater distance being reached. The whole game plays out in a manner reminiscent to the classic Duck Hunt, but whilst playing through the idea sprang to mind that someone like Treasure could definitely make use of this particular firing technique for an innovative new shooter.

After completing the short demo of Takamura’s Ninja Castle, next up was the superb Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, which shows off Nintendo’s hopes of selling asymmetric multiplayer to families and friends of Wii U owners. It works in an extremely similar fashion to Pac Man Vs., which made superb use of the Game Boy Advance-to-GameCube link-up feature. Four players run around a top-down maze, flashlights in hand, and must trap an invisible ghost in its rays before either their battery runs out, or the ghost sneaks up behind and drains life out of them. It is a true cat and mouse scenario, and the ghost will only appear in certain circumstances, such as lightning casting radiance down some corridors or the ghost dashing to quickly attack, which means the player must instead rely on the rumble feature of the Wii Remote, and some good fortune. When the apparition is in close proximity, the vibrate function kicks in, causing mass panic amongst the group, but tactics can be employed to keep the spirit at bay. For instance, in a room with three entrances, if people guard them, clearly the person holding the GamePad has no chance! Should a player fall, though, they can be revived using the light from others’ torches, but this leaves people exposed, which definitely led to some highly tense moments during the sessions!

Screenshot for Nintendo Land (Hands-On) on Wii U

In a similar vein, there was Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, except in this case it was not a case of merely having to survive or defeat a ghostly creature within the time limit, but rather collect as many sweets as the target requires before the clock hits zero or the guards roaming the vicinity swipe at you. Four players must dash around, gobbling up sweets along the way, working together to hit switches that make trees drop more of the vital candy, all the while dodging the oncoming advances of two soldiers. The twist here is that a fifth player uses the GamePad to direct the guards, independently, using the two analogue sticks. The more sweets collected, the greater the size of the characters’ heads become, and the slower they can trundle around, meaning when about to be captured numerous sweets need to be swiftly discarded to make a speedy retreat possible. The most fun here definitely came from the tactical approach of controlling the guards, with it best to send them in differing directions to corner players. Whilst confusing for some, the fact that the GamePad’s screen zooms out to give a clearer view of the surroundings helps players to get a good grasp of multiple character control and devise smart tactics for cutting off escape routes.

Screenshot for Nintendo Land (Hands-On) on Wii U

Another of the five games on show (out of a supposed twelve), was The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest. This three-player on-rails mode is rather reminiscent of games such as Virtua Cop and House of the Dead, except set in a world filled with bright-and-breezy scenery and plenty of recognisable Zelda enemies. It has two Wii MotionPlus controllers taking charge of general Link fighters able to swing their swords at the right moment, even charging their weapons and unleashing a super attack by holding the controller northwards for a short time. The third person acts as a bowman, wielding the GamePad to look around, finding areas that would otherwise be out of sight, meaning that hidden enemies can be taken out and switches hit by aiming arrows in the appropriate direction. The sense of teamwork involved is truly thrilling and the potential for the expansion of this specific game style is phenomenal. Being able to help out allies by scouring the upper regions of the land simply by physically moving around and sometimes even lifting the GamePad above head height and to the left or right off-screen is such a stunning addition that will make gameplay more immersive than ever before.

Finally, and a personal highlight of Nintendo Land, was Donkey Kong: Crash Course, a game that highlighted how sensitive the motion capabilities of the GamePad actually are. Anyone wondering if it would be inferior to the Wii MotionPlus will be pleased to know that the sensitivity is just as high, with the gyroscopes working to great effect, allowing for pinpoint accuracy during bouts of gaming goodness. The premise is to guide a tiny trolley, featuring the face of your Mii of choice, down from the top of an intricate maze to the base, where the Princess is awaiting rescue, without crashing into walls or toppling over. The classic ‘just-one-more-go’ notion certainly applies here, with that urge to keep trying and the belief that further progress can indeed be made on the next attempt.

Screenshot for Nintendo Land (Hands-On) on Wii U

Trying to pick up enough speed to launch off platforms to reach the next level down safely, yet not going so fast as to smash into the side barrier is quite a skill to hone, and it has that sort of addictive quality as moving a hoop safely from one end of an electrified twisting wire to the other! Being a solo experience meant that there were no restrictions with others growing bored of the experience, and it was also intriguing to see how some players preferred the close-up view on the GamePad to actually watching the action on the TV. At certain points there were switches that needed to be manipulated, lifts to activate, and circular structures that had to be rotated, all the while keeping the temperamental cart safely balanced until rescuing the damsel in distress.

There has been talk of Nintendo Land being bundled with Wii U and it certainly would be a great idea to help encourage families that so loved Wii Sports to get a firm grasp of the various ways to use the GamePad alone, as well as a mixture of it and the standard Wii Remotes. There are also seven more games to be unveiled, although from looking at the icons shown at E3, the remaining ones are based around the following series: Metroid, F-Zero, Mario, Yoshi, and potentially Balloon Fight (featuring Tingle?), Pikmin and the Game & Watch title Octopus. Whatever the case, there is certainly something for all the family, yet its potential as a standalone product is still debatable.

Screenshot for Nintendo Land (Hands-On) on Wii U

Final Thoughts

From the five games on show in Nintendo Land so far, there is definitely a great mix of styles on offer, with numerous ways of how the GamePad can be used to augment the traditional experience being shown. Whilst the justification for the inclusion of certain Nintendo franchises is sometimes tenuous to say the least, what their appearance does do is add extra appeal to what may otherwise be seen as bland, faceless mini-games. The future is bright for Nintendo Land, without a doubt.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Party

Players

5

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (9 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Comments

I really can't wait for this game. Hopefully it is bundled in, but I'll be getting it either way.

SSGuy (guest) 15.06.2012#2

The article should not say fans awaited for a new Metroid. It should instead be a new F-Zero. I'm tired of them doing Metroid for now. Especially after they gave Samus a personality. *shutters*

Bowser-Is-My-Father (guest) 15.06.2012#3

Can't wait. Haters GFY, if you don't want it, don't sit there and complain. Move on. Thankfully though, no such comments here.

Chris bradford (guest) 15.06.2012#4

true its odd to see no a single "fanboy" comment from the xbox or ps3 side or a crack at the gamepad for once, all in all i'm soooooo getting a wii u as it looks like somthing that will do very well

I hope the game is a pack in. If it isn't, I just need to have $50 to buy it at launch and we're good to go.

It's being considered, as far as I know, but clearly nothing's confirmed until Nintendo makes its mind up. Definitely should be a pack-in, I reckon.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

I think Nintendo have no choice but to bundle this with the console. I'm not so sure the Wii U itself could make as big an impact in this country as the original did, but bundling Nintendo Land could help matters, just to get the word of mouth across like Wii Sports did.

Playing Nintendo Land games with four other people was some of the best fun I had at the pre-E3 show, reminding me how fun local multiplayer always is. Already it's the perfect party game, but not too much for single-players to get excited over. Hopefully there'll be some replay value for single-players. Still twice as many games left to be revealed, after all.

It should be bundled in i think. It would be good to get the console started and a good way to play with friends. It looks like fun

Kittensssssss

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