The virtual Nintendo themed amusement park may seem like a very obvious way to teach us all of the new features of the Wii U, but it also delivers a fun and charming party game with the familiarities of our favorite Nintendo games.
Following in the footsteps of Wii Sports, Nintendo Land uses a fun mini game style to teach us how to get the best experience out of the Wii U’s new features. I played some of it multiplayer on the livestream we did a few days ago, and some by myself, and I’m happy to say that either way it was a lot of fun. Party games are usually only fun in a…well, a party! But I can honestly say I enjoyed playing by myself as much as I did with friends, and you can’t get that same feeling with games like Mario Party, Wii Sports or Wii Party.
You start out in Nintendo Land with your Mii in “Nintendo Plaza”, a colorful, carnival-like hub where the 12 attractions surround you waiting to be played. Provided you have Miiverse set up and active, the plaza can be bustling with “stranger Miis” from all over the world. You are greeted by your guide Monita, a talking screen (Ha ha get it? Monita? Monitor? Clever right?) with an arm, a hat and a pretty annoying voice. If you weren’t a fan of Fi’s voice from Skyward Sword, maybe hit the mute button when she’s lecturing you (although, if you aren’t usually a player of party games her blabbing is actually quite helpful). After she has explained Nintendo Land you’re free to roam around using the Gamepad as a view finder, which really shows off the gyroscope feature. Growing up with games like Mario Party (which have you more-or-less select games from a list), running around Nintendo Plaza is a refreshing way to pick which games you want to try out. Mind you there is still the option to pull up a standard organized menu with all of the mini games listed for all of you straight to the point people.
There are 12 different mini games each varying from “solo” to up-to 5 players: six solo games, three team games (which can also be played alone), and three multiplayer-only games. Every one of them is based on either a classic Nintendo franchise– like Mario, Zelda, or Donkey Kong– or a more “acquired taste” franchise like Balloon Flight or Animal Crossing. Either way they can all appeal to the average “Nintendo Fan”, but sometimes when striving for variety, some games come up short. For example, the game based on Game & Watch Octopus centers on teaching us how to shift our focus from the TV screen to the Gamepad screen. It’s a basic rhythm game where you copy the Diver’s movements to the beat. That’s it. Sure it brings back good memories of Game & Watch but honestly, I think we know how to look from one screen to another.
Then again, Game & Watch isn’t everyone’s favorite game. The mini-games based on bigger franchises are much more well designed, each carrying a beautiful environment suited just for them. Two of my favorites were Zelda: Battle Quest– which has a sewn-together fabric sort of feel– and Takamaru’s Ninja Castle, which has an origami art style throughout. Overall, I was very impressed with the atmosphere of the entire game. That being said, atmosphere isn’t everything.
There isn’t much of an end “goal” within the game except for collecting coins. You can use coins to play a separate Nintendo Land themed game which is a LOT like Plinko (from ‘The Price is Right’) or those games you get at the dentist that are full of water and you have to get the balls into the slots using buttons that shoot air… you know what I’m talking about, right? Every time you win a round in the “Plinko” game, you earn a prize that will be shot out somewhere into the plaza. It’s a pretty cool rewards system because each prize is interactive and based on the Nintendo franchise within this game. It’s a very Nintendo-like system full of charming things just for us fans.
Learning the basics of your new Wii U is essential for playing the bigger titles that came out on launch day. While Wii Sports was an easy way to learn the intricacies of motion control, Nintendo Land can be a bit more complicated for some more casual players to get to know the new features. It’s hard to imagine my parents using the Gamepad to look around the plaza, shoot arrows, and flick throwing stars, whereas it was easy for them the pick up the Wii Remote and pretend to golf.
While it may seem a bit complicated for a virtual instruction manual, Nintendo Land surpasses Wii Sports and creates a very fun party setting. It’s the perfect way to get to know the system with friends in a familiar and nostalgic environment.
Buy this game if…
If you like getting a good dose of Nintendo charm in a very interactive setting. Also buy it if you are like me and LOVE mini games.
Don’t but this game if…
If party games are not your style. It can come off as “kid-like” and won’t appeal to Call of Duty types.
This game is better than…
Wii Sports, Wii Party
This game is worse than…
New Super Mario Bros. U
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