Review: Nintendo Land

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Nintendo Land

Genre: Mini Games     Players: 1-5      Online: No     Off-TV Play: No

 Trophieswhat are these?
Bigger on the Inside TrophyBroad Appeal TrophyNostalgic TrophyGreat Co-Op TrophyCompetitive TrophyGreat Music Trophy

NintendoLand doesn’t have the instant appeal that Wii Sports had, but it has a surprising amount of depth.

Nintendo Land
Having liked Nintendo games for years and a familiarity with most of the franchises covered in this game, I had a broad understanding going into this game.

Launching alongside the Nintendo Wii U and as an included game with the Wii U Deluxe packages, Nintendo Land was designed to showcase the ability of the Wii U Gamepad by using familiar Nintendo characters as the driving factor.

The attractions in the game are separated by a central plaza, which you navigate with your Mii character. The more you play the game, the more coins you are rewarded, which you can use towards unlocking items to go in your plaza. A simple but addictive feature.

Graphically, this game is beautiful and stylised, certain mini games particularly stand out. What I will do is briefly describe each mini game.

Mario Chase

Nintendo Land

This multiplayer only attraction is one of the most simple of the mini-games within Nintendo Land. Essentially, it’s a game of hide and seek. One player with the gamepad, has a Mii wearing a Mario hat, their screen is split in two, one half showing an overall map showing where the other players are located and what direction they are looking. Meanwhile the other players dressed as Toads, look at the TV screen and try to work together to find and chase down the Mario Mii. On games where there are less players, Yoshi carts are substituted who chase and call out Mario’s location, these carts can stun Mario but cannot tag him to end the chase. Simple but good multiplayer fun.

Balloon Trip Breeze

Nintendo Land
One of the single player mini games. Using the stylus, you draw / wipe on the gamepad screen to create wind currents to propel your character. On the Gamepad, the view is closer up of your Mii, on the TV screen you have a wider viewing angle – so you are encouraged to mostly look at the TV screen.

Using the wind current, you move your Mii from checkpoint to checkpoint, avoiding obstacles. Quite simple once you get used to controlling your character.

Balloon Trip Breeze is graphically beautiful but simple, the background is a curtain that moves and is replaced by a dark curtain to represent the transition to night time. The music is catchy and light-hearted.

Donkey Kong Crash Course

Nintendo Land

Another single player game. The Player controls a Mii encased within two wheel cart, that is destroyed if it turns onto its side or hits an edge too fast. The cart can feel very delicate and is easily broken, resulting in the player losing a life.

In this game, the player primarily looks at the gamepad and controls the cart by tilting the pad left and right. As you progress through the course, you need to press buttons on the pad in order to move barriers and levers to continue along the course.

Many people note finding this the more challenging mini game. I found once you hit a hurdle, it was one you could eventually overcome and would be easier from then on. This is one of the more challenging mini-games, but is addictive in it’s challenge. Visually, it has a chalkboard theme, which isn’t the most visually striking, but has a certain charm. You can eventually unlock 4 levels within this mini-game.

Zelda Battle Quest

Nintendo Land

In this game, you can play either as an archer using the Gamepad or as a swordsman by swinging a wii-mote, as in Zelda: Skyward Sword. You focus purely on attacking, and occasionally blocking or dodging. Your character moves automatically in this game, so unfortunately you don’t get to explore any of the environments you traverse.

This is one of the visually strongest mini games in the collection. The characters and levels have a bright, colourful, patchwork design, with intermittent buttons and zips. The world created has a real charm. The music is from previous Zelda games with a slight mix, it is sounds grand, yet catchy. This mini game has lots of levels to progress through, when you think you have cleared them, more become available.

Yoshi’s Fruit Cart

Nintendo Land

A single player game, which is more tactical. In this game, you draw a route for Yoshi’s fruit cart to journey, aiming to collect all the fruit and also avoiding obstacles your planned route. The twist is that, the TV shows level layout, the fruit you need to collect and any obstacles to avoid. However, the gamepad you draw your route on, only shows a blank level, so you need to plot your journey while looking back and forth between the gamepad and TV screen. Once you have drawn your route, you click go and hope for the best as the goal door will only open once you have collected all the fruit.

Naturally the levels get harder as you progress, throwing more and more difficult obstacles between you and the end goal.

Musically and visually, this is one of the plainer games. The pace is different to the other games in the collection and it is much harder than you’d initially expect it to be.

Metroid Blast

Nintendo Land

This game is aimed at the more experienced gamer. You can either play as a Mii in Samus’ gunship on the gamepad flying through the arena, or play as a Mii in the Varia suit on the ground, using the wiimote and nunchuc. Using your chosen method you go around the area shooting at at enemies, aiming for the part of them that is a red button on their body. As you progress through the levels, your enemies get tougher, with token collecting levels and boss battles thrown in.

This game can be played solo or as a competitive or co-operative multiplayer attraction. It is more fun when played with other others, it is especially fun playing as a ground fighter grappling and dangling from the other player’s gunship.

The Metroid mini game has a fun stylised theme, the nearest comparison might be like a futuristic mechano. Any metroid fans expecting a dark and atmospheric mini game will be disappointed.

Captain Falcon’s Twister Race

Nintendo Land

A fast paced single player game. In this you control captain falcons race car. The TV gives you a view into the distance, while the gamepad has an overhead view. You are encouraged to look at the gamepad that you hold sideways, tilting it from side to side in order to steer your car. Your aim is to get from checkpoint to checkpoint within a designated time, that leaves little time allowed for hitting objects that slow you down.

Compared to the other games, this one lacks a strong visual character. It’s a hard mini game, that requires a strong concentration – I’ve personally found this one harder to enjoy as one wrong move has you flying off the platform or hitting a bomb and dying and then having to start over.

Pikmin Adventure

Nintendo Land

Another multistage attraction that can played alone or with others. You can choose to play as an Olimar style Mii; using the gamepad, moving with the analogue stick and tapping on the screen where you want to throw your small Pikmin. You throw them in order to attack enemies and collect power ups, while moving your olimar-mii out of the way of attacks – Acting as an attacker from a distance.

You can also play as your Mii in a Pikmin costume, using a wiimote. This style is more direct, jumping on and bashing the various enemies with the leaf on your pikmin’s head.

In a multiplayer session, like the Zelda Battle Quest you all share one life gauge, meaning you can’t be too reckless. Overall this is a good fun game.

Like the Metroid and Zelda mini games, this one has a large number of levels to progress through and can get quite challenging.

Animal Crossing Sweet Day

Nintendo Land

This is a multiplayer only attraction. One player with the game pad controls two guards, with an analogue stick and trigger button assigned to each guard. The aim is to use the guards to pounce on other players who are trying to gather a set amount of food. The more fruit a player gathers, the slower they become and easier they are to catch. If you strike another player, they drop the fruit they are carrying, once you have struck any of the players 3 times, the game is over and the guards win.

Controlling two guards at the same time and balancing your attention between the two can initially feel a bit like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time. I’ve seen some people get past that difficulty and get good at controlling the guards, others struggle to get used to it.

Other players with wii-motes control the fruit gatherers, trying to gather a set number of fruit between them, while to avoiding getting caught by he guards. Gathers can also drop fruit they are carrying, to help them run away faster. It becomes a balance between collecting as much fruit as you can (getting closer to winning as a team) while not getting too slowed down – making you an easy target.

The more players you have for this game, the more hectic and fun it is.

Luigi’s Ghost Mansion

Nintendo Land

Luigi’s mansion is a competitive attraction. The player with the gamepad plays as a ghost, the other players with wiimotes a play as ghost hunters. The job of the ghost is to sneak up on the ghost hunters and grab them without having the ghost hunters torchlight hit them. The ghost hunters cannot see the ghost, they can only judge if the ghost is close, by how strong their wiimote is vibrating. Working as a team is the best way to defeat the ghost, telling the other players when the ghost is close, so the whole team can get near with their torches on, hoping to hit the ghost they cannot see.

The player as the ghost with the gamepad is the only one who can see where the ghost is on the level, the ghost only becomes visible to the other players when he dashes, goes to grab another player or by flashes of lightening, which lights up parts of the room.

Like all the competitive games, this is more fun the more players you can get involved. But is a good game of strategy on both parts

Takamaru’s Ninja Castle

Nintendo Land

The most obscure franchise to grace NintendoLand – that most people struggle to pronounce the title and even fewer are familiar with the original game. In this solo game you hold the gamepad sideways while looking at the TV screen with shows a retical that corresponds to the angle the gamepad is being held at. You then swipe your finger on he gamepad touch screen to fling throwing stars at ninjas that pop up on the TV screen. The speed at which you swipe your finger translates to how strongly the star is projected on screen.

The levels are designed with a cardboard theme, with environments sliding in and out. The textures are bright and colourful, giving this game a very strong charm to it. Overall, this game is a lot of fun, although feels shallow with the amount of levels it offers.

Octopus Dance

Nintendo Land
In this solo dance game you have to have a good sense of rhythm. You control your dancer’s left arm with the left analogue stick and right arm with the right analogue stick and tilt their body side to side by tilting the gamepad. Sounds simple enough, but the moves become fast and complicated. The TV screen and Gamepad screen show a perspective in front of or behind the dancer and instructor and it varies which screen you need to focus on as the instructor swings you, so you facing different directions.

This is all put together in a comical yet manic fashion. It’s a funny game, but takes practice to get good at it.

Overall Nintendo Land is a collection of well made, fun mini games. Some stand out more visually and have more character to them than others. The Zelda, Metroid and Pikmin mini games, feel to have particular depth with the number of levels available. Mini games are also given a bit more longetivity through the plaza decorations you can unlock through the coins you earn and by a small number of achievements you can get in each mini game.

Nintendo Land isn’t a mini game collection you’ll just play a couple of times and never return to. It’ll remain a family multiplayer attraction for some time. Although it doesn’t have the same immediate appeal that WiiSports had, I’ve found casual players who give it a chance tend to like quite a few of the games. It’s a shame that no online multiplayer support was included, especially so anyone who might struggle to get to play this game with others.

Head Heart
Multiplayer Focused
Charming Levels
Great Gamepad Use
Some Challenge
No Online Gameplay Great Retro Music
Plenty to collect
 Few Poor Games
  Great  85%

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David Lee
David is the founder of Heart Gaming. Regular writer, reviewer and editor. Has a strong passion for gaming; particularly the Legend of Zelda series.