Nintendo’s Wii U is just months away from release and the company is looking to demonstrate what both casual and core game players can do with the system. They’re looking for something along the same lines of what Wii Sports did for the Wii several years back, providing something that really gets you into the gameplay while presenting challenges you normally wouldn’t see in games. Nintendo just might have that concept in mind when it comes to Nintendo Land.
The game got a great deal of focus at this year’s E3, both at Nintendo’s press conference and on the show floor. Even though it’s not the hardcore effort that most fans were clamoring for, it does have quite a bit to offer especially for younger players looking to get more involved with the integrated Mii Universe features.
The game consists of twelve different mini-game events each one like a page taken out of Nintendo’s history. Don’t be surprised if you bump into the likes of Fox McCloud (from the StarFox series) or other Nintendo-designed favorites as you roam around completing activities and taking part in other fun events throughout the park like watching a few fireworks (like at the end of the press conference).
So far, Nintendo has only revealed six of the twelve activities that will be included in the game but from what we've seen, they'll offer enough diversity that everyone should be able to find a favorite. We went hands-on with a couple of them and came back pleasantly surprised, despite their generally simplistic nature. Let’s start with Takamaru’s Ninja Castle.
This mini-game was first hinted at with the Wii U video presentation at E3 2011, with players using the Wii U GamePad as a launcher for ninja stars that would then hit targets displayed on the TV. After a year, Nintendo has made the experience a little more interactive than just hitting boards.
The game, based loosely on the old Famicom Disk System classic Mazo no Murasame Jo, has you throwing paper shuriken at an armada of enemy ninjas. Players aim the GamePad right at the screen, then flick the shuriken by using the touch-screen. You can adjust trajectory by tilting your GamePad in case you need to reach someone a little further off.
This is actually one of the more entertaining activities that Nintendo Land has to offer, as it’s simple to launch stars and there's enough you have to compensate for to make sure you have utmost accuracy. The design is simple yet pleasant, with lots of ninjas popping out and taunting you while you attempt to bring them down.
Moving on, we got a chance to check out Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, a game that reminded us of the GameCube classic Pac-Man Vs. where one player controlled Pac-Man on the main screen while others connected their GameBoy Advance systems to play the ghosts pursuing him. The player that holds onto the GamePad takes control of a ghost while up to four other players using Wii remotes coordinate their efforts pursue after him or her using flashlights. The ghost is normally invisible unless you shine a light on it, so catching it when it's exposed is key. The player with the ghost will have the advantage of speed bursts in case they need to get away. The players using the Wii Remotes will be able to tell when the ghost is nearby, as it vibrates when they’re near.
This game’s not much to speak of in single player but get some friends involved and Luigi’s Ghost Mansion is like a party in itself. It looks good too, with sort of a retro design akin to what Nintendo and Namco did with Pac-Man Vs.
As for the other games, we didn’t get to try them but they still look like they have potential. The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest has up to four players teaming up as a battle party, with the one holding the GamePad packing a bow and arrow for distance shots while the others hold swords and battle in close combat. For Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, players control familiar animal characters as they collect candies and avoid guards that would make them give up their sweets. Donkey Kong’s Crash Course is another swell-sounding game, as you try to get through an obstacle course designed very similarly to the big ape’s arcade debut from 1981. Finally, an F-Zero game will be included with players racing on a track while the GamePad user places obstacles in their way. (The other six mini-games should be revealed soon.)
Though Nintendo Land won’t warm everyone’s hearts (there are those of you demanding a new Metroid or Zelda game instead – patience, they’re coming), it’s a worthwhile collection of fun activities and events that should really bring out the best in the Wii U. Look for it in time for the system’s release later this year.