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Nintendo Land Review

Posted by Matthew Hewson On Thursday 6 December 2012ADD COMMENTS

Available on WU l Published by Nintendo l Developed by Nintendo l Classified PG l Supports 1-5 players

REVIEW IN BRIEF > As a collection of mini games, Nintendo Land is ahead of its competitors. To be honest, though, this isn’t saying all that much. There is some fun to be had here with the short burst single player attractions and some entertaining multiplayer modes that utilise all of the Wii U’s fancy new tricks, but there isn’t too much in the way of depth to keep you coming back. This is a hard one to recommend to players not getting it for free.

REVIEW IN FULL > Oh Nintendo, you do love your mini game collections don’t you? From Mario Party to WarioWare to Wii Sports, it seems the big N can’t help but release a bundle of tiny gaming morsels on a regular basis. Nintendo Land is its latest effort and, as it comes with the premium version of the Wii U, the publisher is obviously hoping that it will be the system seller that Wii Sports was for the original Wii system. Is there enough here to help sell the new console or is it just another collection of games that will be forever gathering dust?

The single player experience is a pretty poor one. Some of the events are not even available to people who play alone…

The game is set up as a virtual theme park, with each attraction a mini game. Most of these are based on heroes from the company’s massive back catalogue. Players can shoot arrows as Link, bomb baddies as Samus, break through walls with a herd of Pikmin and hunt ghosts as Nintendo’s resident ghost buster, Luigi.  In all there are 12 different attractions, most of which have a few different modes. While there is no doubt that there is plenty to do, some of it is only worth doing once.

The single player experience is a pretty poor one. Some of the events are not even available to people who play alone and, with the exception of the Metroid based shoot ‘em up and the Donkey Kong themed mine cart puzzle, all of the games are better with friends. That is not to say that there isn’t entertainment to be had on your own (five minute bursts of some of the attractions can be a blast) but this is a game that is all about mates on a couch. Solo players who bought a Wii U in the expectation that Nintendo Land would be enough to keep them going for a while will be sadly disappointed.

Multiplayer can be an exciting experience. With four Wiimotes and the new tablet controller, five people can tackle some great competitive games. The aforementioned Luigi’s Ghost Hunt is the pick of the bunch, with the person using the tablet playing as a ghost and the other players trying to find him. The catch is that the pursuing players can only see the ghost when they shine their torches on it, while the player controlling the spectre can see everyone at all times on the tablet’s bright screen. This is a great use of the extra functionality that the new controller provides.

In fact, Nintendo has done a good job of showing off all of the new tricks that the Wii U has to offer. From swiping a finger across the screen to launch ninja stars to blowing air into the microphone to inflate a balloon, each game ably highlights one of the new functions. Luckily, apart from one ill-conceived dancing game, the ideas feel like they have been well thought out and implemented in a competent manner. There are no tacked on additions of the kind featured in Uncharted: The Golden Abyss when the Vita was released. As a tech demo, Nintendo Land is certainly impressive and it gives a good glimpse of the potential that creative game designers have to work with.

As a tech demo, Nintendo Land is certainly impressive and it gives a good glimpse of the potential that creative game designers have to work with.

The presentation aspects of the game are a bit of a mixed bag. The idea of the virtual theme park is a nice one, with the world looking sufficiently populated and interesting. The problem is that navigating the park is a bit of a drag and it is much easier to use the menu to jump to each game. It also features one of the most annoying characters in gaming history in the talking TV designed to guide players through the tutorials. This character’s voice will live on in the nightmares of all but the most hardened Nintendo players. Volume control is the only solution available to silence this monster as there is no option to turn it off in the menu.

So really, Nintendo Land is something of a strange beast. Value for money is not really an issue as most players will be getting it for free. With friends (and possibly alcohol) there is a lot of entertainment on offer. Unfortunately, if you’re a solo gamer there is no amount of booze that will extend your fun beyond ten minute bursts.  Hopefully Nintendo release a system seller soon, because despite its good intentions, Nintendo Land just isn’t it.

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