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Nintendo Land (Wii U) Review

Review for Nintendo Land on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Wii Sports played a major role in the Wii's widespread success and it's possibly the best known game of the system. At first glance, Nintendo Land seems to be the Wii U's Wii Sports so to speak, especially when considering that it's bundled with the Wii U Premium Pack. However, is it really trying to achieve the same goals or going after something slightly different? Read on to find out...

Nintendo Land is an amusement park based on several of Nintendo's famous and some of its more obscure franchises. In the circular hub area called the Main Plaza players can freely walk around with their Mii characters and visit the attractions by entering any of the respective gates that surround the area. For those who prefer to jump right into the action, there's also a handy card menu to quickly access any of the games. Monita, a floating monitor with a hand, serves as the tour guide through Nintendo Land and offers all kinds of advice, including tutorials for each minigame. Coins are earned by playing any of the twelve different attractions and can be spent in a surprisingly addictive retro Coin Drop minigame to win a ton of prizes that will be displayed on the Plaza. These prizes include objects and characters from all the included franchises and all of them can be interacted with for a short animation and an often funny comment from Monita. Dozens of stamps can also be earned with each Mii and they serve as achievements in this game. Many of them are hard to obtain, with some even demanding quite ridiculous feats. If the player allows it, Miis from the Friend List and the Miiverse will visit the Main Plaza. Talking to any Mii will show their progress with the game in detail, such as games they have played or stamps and prizes they have earned so far. It also shows their latest Miiverse post about the game and it makes it actually feel a bit like an amusement park with Miis walking around and sharing their experiences.

The main point of Nintendo Land is obviously the attractions. There are twelve of them and nine can be played alone while six support up to five players. The GamePad is used in every single one while additional players have to use Wii Remotes, except for two games with one requiring Wii Motion Plus and the other needing a Nunchuck in addition to a Wii Remote. While you can simply pick an attraction from the Main Plaza, the game also offers an Attraction Tour for multiplayer sessions. This tour pits players against each other in a variety of scenarios, including all solo attractions, in which everybody competes for high scores one after another. Those who aren't in a match-up in a round can bet on who they think will win and affect the points that are awarded at the end of the round. The number of rounds can be set in advance to accommodate both short and long play sessions. After this quick overview, it's time to discuss each of the twelve games in detail.

Screenshot for Nintendo Land on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest (Team Attraction)

In this attraction, Link is taken control of either as an archer with the GamePad or as a swordsman with a Wii Remote Plus and he must fight through several stages in Battle Quest mode or take on a few time trials in Time Attack. Battle Quest is on-rails but the player can stop moving either by blocking as a swordsman or drawing the bow as an archer. The levels feature classic environments and enemies from The Legend of Zelda in very creative patchwork forms. Only six hearts are available, with one hit taking off a full heart. The hearts are shared between the team and it adds a great deal of strategy to the game as it also becomes important to protect team mates, not only yourself. It can also be played alone, with adjusted amounts of enemies and hazards. Either way, this attraction is very addictive and challenging and rewards patience, co-ordination between players and well-timed attacks.

Pikmin Adventure (Team Attraction)

In Pikmin Adventure the goal is to make it to Olimar's spaceship in each level to escape the planet as either Olimar himself with the GamePad or a giant Pikmin with a Wii Remote. While the general gameplay is very reminiscent of the actual Pikmin games, drops of nectar to level-up the character and crazy power-ups to find make it feel more like a frantic beat 'em up, albeit one still that does require some skill and strategy, especially in the later levels. Much like Battle Quest, the hearts are also shared between team mates. It can be played alone, as well, and the game provides a fairly capable CPU companion to help out. There is also a Versus Mode where the players compete for candy.

Metroid Blast (Team Attraction)

Metroid Blast makes Miis dress up as Samus and fight off space pirates and familiar bosses in either a gunship controlled by the GamePad or on foot with a Wii Remote and Nunchuck. Lots of shooting and dodging is the order of the day in Metroid Blast but mission goals are regularly mixed up with objectives, such as protecting civilians or collecting a number of tokens before the timer runs out, all while fending off waves of enemies. While it can also be played alone, this attraction is perhaps the best for two-player co-operation, with one person controlling the gunship and the other on foot. On top of the Assault Mission mode, there is also Land vs. Air, in which the players with Wii Remotes and Nunchucks try to shoot down the player with the GamePad. In Ground Battle all players use Wii Remotes and Nunchucks in a battle for tokens.

Mario Chase (Competitive Attraction)

In this attraction, the player with the GamePad controls Mario while everybody else plays as Toads who are trying to catch him before the time runs out. A map of the level is displayed on the GamePad for that player to look at and come up with strategies to outsmart his pursuers. Perhaps the best feature about this game is that when it ends, either by Mario being caught or the time running out, a replay of the whole game will be shown on the TV where everyone can see other's movements on the map. Totally fooled someone as Mario? This is the way to prove it!

Screenshot for Nintendo Land on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Luigi's Ghost Mansion (Competitive Attraction)

Luigi's Ghost Mansion lets the GamePad player control a ghost, while the other ones have to defend themselves by shining their flashlight on the ghost and depleting its HP. To make things a bit spookier, the ghost is invisible most of the time and the only way to find out its whereabouts before it's too late is by paying attention to how much the Wii Remote vibrates. If the ghost manages to ambush someone, they will faint, but they can be revived by remaining team mates if they shine their torch on them for an extended amount of time. While this may sound fairly tame in theory, not knowing from where exactly the ghost might attack next creates a lot of suspense and this game is guaranteed to shock some people. Just make sure to pass on the GamePad regularly so that everyone gets a chance for some sweet revenge.

Animal Crossing: Sweet Day (Competitive Attraction)

This game lets candy lovers dress up as animals and live their dream as the goal is to run around and collect as many sweets as possible, which are lying either on the ground or even hanging on trees. However, beware of the two guards the player with the GamePad controls, since they are out to get the candy back no matter what. The animals win if they collect a certain amount of candy, while the guards claim the victory if they managed to tackle the other players three times in total before that. This game can get really frantic, as the GamePad player controls two guards at once and tries to corner the animals that are keeping all the sweets on their heads and get slower as they collect more. However, they have the option to drop a piece of candy at a time to gain speed and avoid being caught and one player can try to distract the guards while another makes great progress in peace, so there's also some strategy to this.

Yoshi's Fruit Cart (Solo Attraction)

In this attraction the objective is to guide Yoshi to the gate that only opens if all the fruit along the way is collected. This is done by drawing the path on the GamePad while observing the TV, as the fruit and various obstacles are only visible on that screen. Thankfully, the backgrounds of the levels can be used as a reference point but one still has to be careful as the path can't be changed on the fly and any slight mistake takes up one life. Yoshi also can't go on infinitely, as a stamina gauge limits how far he can travel without eating a piece of fruit to restore some of it. Later levels become even trickier, with fruit that has to be eaten in the correct order, and moving fruit and even enemies to take into account. It's by no means an easy feat to beat the first twenty stages, let alone all the bonus ones.

Octopus Dance (Solo Attraction)

Based on the octopus from the Game & Watch games, the goal here is to mimic the actions of the diver with either the control sticks or the gyro sensor of the GamePad. It's a simple rhythm game at first glance but it gets surprisingly difficult rather quickly and one needs to really concentrate to even stand a chance, as only a few mistakes make the octopus grab you and the game is over. It also uses some quite literally dirty tricks to cause distractions, like a squid sometimes covering the whole screen with ink, making it hard to see the movements of the diver.

Screenshot for Nintendo Land on Wii U - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Donkey Kong's Crash Course (Solo Attraction)

This game is influenced by the Donkey Kong arcade games and the player tilts the GamePad to steer a trolley through a platform-based obstacle course. The analogue sticks and shoulder buttons are also used to move platforms or activate levers and switches. It's very easy to lose one of the five initial lives as any reckless movement can cause the trolley to flip over and if the head with your Mii on it comes in contact with anything, it will explode and put you back to the last of the several checkpoints throughout the levels. Without a doubt, this is one of the hardest attractions as even the first of the four courses is very difficult to complete and later ones only get trickier with risky jumps and way more obstacles to deal with.

Takamaru's Ninja Castle (Solo Attraction)

Takamaru's Ninja Castle is based on a very obscure game for western gamers, Nazo no Murasame Jō, a Famicom game only released in Japan. The player uses the GamePad's touch screen to perform quick swiping motions to throw Shuriken at waves of enemy ninjas while tilting the controller to aim. On boss ninjas or close-range combat, the character automatically uses a sword in place of throwing a Shuriken. There are three powers to collect that can be performed by using hidden scrolls dropped by enemies. These can be very helpful in dealing with tough situations, as the three hearts of the player can be quickly depleted by an onslaught of enemy attacks.

Captain Falcon's Twister Race (Solo Attraction)

This game is a racer inspired by the F-Zero series with a slight twist to the gameplay. The GamePad is held vertically and the gyroscope is used to steer the vehicle through the various areas filled with boost pads and obstacles. This might sound like a weird way to play but the GamePad screen actually shows the race from a top-down perspective, making it a lot more intuitive than it initially sounds. Brakes can be activated by pressing a finger on the touch screen but you will rarely want to do that as each area has an increasingly strict time limit without much room to mess up by missing boost pads for some extra speed or crashing into obstacles that slow the craft down.

Balloon Trip Breeze (Solo Attraction)

In this attraction the player will control their Mii in a playing field that's very similar to Balloon Flight. This is done by swiping the stylus on the touch screen to create gusts of wind that move the character. The GamePad offers a zoomed-in view while the TV shows a zoomed-out view of the action. The levels are divided into morning, afternoon, evening and night and end by landing on an island, or preferably, on the top of the podium on each island for extra points. Balloons need to be collected to get a high score and the longer the combo, the more points each balloon will award. The stages are full of hazards and enemies, but some power-ups will appear occasionally that slow down time for a brief period or make the player temporarily invincible.

Summing up the games included in Nintendo Land, the team attractions offer the most depth and content and all three are bound to be many people's favourites out of them all. The competitive ones are a blast to play but they will not unlock their full potential unless played with four or five other people. The solo attractions are all built like arcade games and the term "Nintendo hard" comes to mind when talking about how difficult they are. Racking up a lot of points to earn bronze, silver, gold and even platinum trophies is a tough task, even for long-time gamers. The same can be said about seeing the credits roll, as Nintendo Land is surprisingly one of the most challenging modern games to beat.

Screenshot for Nintendo Land on Wii U- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

The attractions have a surprising amount of depth and challenge. These aren't standard uninspired minigames; they are much, much more than that. Most importantly, they are all a ton of fun to play while successfully showing off some cool gameplay possibilities that can only be achieved on the Wii U.

Graphics

Nintendo Land features an impressive art style throughout the whole game that's supported by a great amount of detail and heaps of beautiful effects and lighting. If this is any indication of what Nintendo can do on the Wii U with its array of lovely art styles, then gamers will be in for a real treat when inevitable real instalments of some featured franchises appear on the system.

Sound

Fantastic remixes of popular soundtracks from the various included franchises are a joy to listen to and any long-term Nintendo fan should prepare themselves for plenty of nostalgia. The various original compositions are nothing short of amazing and feel in no way out of place between the beloved classics. Even more impressive is the fact that the game's composer Ryo Nagamatsu is still fairly new at Nintendo, but with work like this he's well on his way to make a name for himself both in the company and among fans.

Value

The twelve attractions offer a lot of challenging content, with more being unlocked as the first wave is finished. The game's 80 stamps, that essentially serve as achievements, will take a lot of effort and skill to obtain but then there are also high scores to achieve, trophies to earn and a ton of prizes to win with the coins earned for playing the games. On top of all that, it offers some of the best local multiplayer fun one can have. Needless to say, this is one game that can be played for a long time to come.

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

About this score
Rated 9 out of 10

Nintendo Land is indeed a pleasant surprise. Not only does it do a great job at demonstrating just about every one of the Wii U's features, but it also delivers on some incredibly fun experiences, particularly in multiplayer. With all the minigame collections and party games that have appeared in the past few years, it would be unfair to simply dismiss this game as such, as it picks up an overdone genre and gives it that brilliant Nintendo polish with some great production values to boot. Nintendo Land celebrates Nintendo's past in a wonderful way and is a great game even for people that will exclusively play it alone, but throw some friends into the mix and it quickly becomes a must-have launch title.

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18.12.2012

5

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5

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (5 Votes)

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

qwert (guest) 19.12.2012 03:46#1

Excellent review! I was also surprised by the amount of depth and challenge Nintendoland offers. This is not Wii Sports (for better or for worse), but it is a fantastic game that shouldn't be overlooked.

Tom (guest) 19.12.2012 15:37#2

I bought a white WIi so I didn't get to experience the joys of this Nintendo Land! I will buy this for Christmas now I think it sounds like a cracker!

Staff Member

qwert (guest) said:
Excellent review! I was also surprised by the amount of depth and challenge Nintendoland offers. This is not Wii Sports (for better or for worse), but it is a fantastic game that shouldn't be overlooked.

Thanks! I agree with you. When I got my Wii U, I actually didn't want to play it as I was waiting for New Super Mario Bros. U which arrived the day after. I wasn't even that interested in the game either but after I was done with NSMBU I gave it a chance and was really surprised. I definitely wouldn't trade it for any other launch game now if I could.

Tom (guest) said:
I bought a white WIi so I didn't get to experience the joys of this Nintendo Land! I will buy this for Christmas now I think it sounds like a cracker!

Sounds like a good plan, especially if you can get some people around Christmas to play it with you!

Cubed3 Reviewer/Feature Writer | Twitter | Backloggery
Staff Member

Incredibly detailed and a brilliant review. Definitely deserves a 9/10, with an even balance of solo and multiplayer experiences this is easily one of the best launch games available for the Wii U. If you weren't one of the many people who bought a Premium Wii U bundle, you should definitely pick this up to play with friends and family on Christmas. Smilie

I give this review a 9/10. Smilie

REEFMANGIC (guest) 23.12.2012 20:05#5

I'm glad Nintendo included this with the Wii U, though I wish they did with the basic set too. It truly explains to any gamer or casual how the Wii U works especially Luigi's Mansion, Yoshi or AC. The rest are a bit bland.

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