I hate mini-games. Maybe it’s over my depression that started when I had my pre-teen ego handed to me when I received the original Mario Party for Christmas or it’s because I’ve simply never had enough cool friends to make the concept of “party games” enjoyable, but I’ve never been able to stand them. Besides that, there has never been much “game” to a collection of mini-games. I think one of the reasons of why I was tolerant of Wii Sports was because it was a free pack-in and served as a way to show gamers what the Wii was all about. I didn’t play it much, because I was often too busy not playing my Wii, but when I did play Wii Sports I found a deep respect for the world of mini-games. They don’t have to be deep, technological marvels; they just have to be fun.
This Land is U’r Land
Nintendo Land (Wii U)
Release: November 18, 2012
MSRP: $59.99 [Buy Now]
When I first heard about Nintendo Land, I made fun of it and didn’t take it seriously. I think most gamers had the same reaction. It just didn’t seem like something I’d find myself enjoying as a gamer who prefers actual games to mini-games meant to be played at some of the most boring parties ever. So when I finally popped Nintendo Land into my Wii U and started playing it, I was almost instantly blown away. Nintendo Land has to be one of the most polished and enjoyable mini-game collections available.
Nintendo Land is the Wii U’s answer to Wii Sports. Every mini-game feels different enough to really get the most use out of your Wii U console. Attractions are broken up into three categories: Team attractions which can be played solo or with up to five players, competitive attractions that can only be played with 2-5 players, and solo attractions that are only meant for one or two players. The nature of the attractions can be confusing, especially when you can’t play competitive attractions without other players. There’s no computer-controlled alternative to human interaction, apparently.
Nintendo Land is comprised of twelve mini-games based on popular Nintendo licensed franchises. Some of the games are damn fun, while others are just there to attempt to justify the $60 price tag if you weren’t fortunate enough to get it for “free” in the Nintendo Deluxe Set.
The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest – The highlight of Nintendo Land, Battle Quest has four players controlling swordsmen with their Wii Remotes acting as swords, while the player with the GamePad takes up the rear and provides cover as an archer, using the GamePad to aim and shoot arrows.
Metroid Blast – Another great addition to Nintendo Land. One player controls an aerial gunship using the GamePad, while the other four players are on the ground, using the Wii Remotes as guns in an attempt to shoot the gunship down in Surface-Air Combat mode. Other modes include Ground Battle, a mode that has all players using Wii Remotes and Nunchuks to battle for tokens, and Assault Mission, a mode that has players cooperating against waves of enemies.
Pikmin Adventure – After getting teased by Pikmin during the transfer screen of the Wii Transfer Tool, it’s nice to see Pikmin in full HD, doing their thing. In Pikmin Adventure, one player controls Olimar, who controls little Pikmin using the GamePad. Up to four other players can join in using Wii Remotes to control large Pikmin. Players must work together to navigate through levels and defeat the boss at the end.
Mario Chase - Tag, Mario style! Four players dressed as Toad and armed with Wii Remotes are tasked with catching the fifth player, who is dressed as Mario and in control of the GamePad. Mario Chase takes place over three stages, each filled with twists and turns to throw the pursuers off Mario’s trail.
Luigi’s Ghost Mansion - Four players dressed up as iconic Mario family members must use their Wii Remote flashlights to defeat the Gold Ghost, who’s in possession of the GamePad. If not enough players are available, Monita will join in to help. She’s a whore and I don’t like her, so make sure you have a full party when you play.
Animal Crossing: Sweet Day - Run around and collect candies while avoiding the guards. The more candies you collect, the heaver you will be, making it a wise choice to drop some of your hard earned candies whenever the guards get too close for comfort.
Takamaru’s Ninja Castle – An adorable shuriken-launching rail shooter that’s based on a Nintendo property you never knew existed. Using the GamePad, players point it at the screen like a light gun shooter and slide their finger toward the TV, simulating the chucking of shuriken at ninjas.
Donkey Kong’s Crash Course – Players tilt and blow the GamePad to move a trolley through a platform-based obstacle course influenced by the original Donkey Kong arcade game. Tilt too hard and the trolley will slam into the wall, breaking and forcing you to start over from the previous checkpoint.
Captain Falcon’s Twister Race – An interesting take on F-Zero. Twister Race has players holding the GamePad vertically to steer through timed courses. The camera on the GamePad mirrors your facial expressions on the TV. The TV supplies a behind the car view, while the GamePad offers an above car view of the action.
Balloon Trip Breeze – Based on one of my personal favorite NES games, Balloon Fight, Balloon Trip Breeze has players controlling a Mii through a multi-level obstacle course without popping his balloons and falling to his death. Controls are made by simply by drawing a line over the Mii in the direction you want him to go.
Yoshi’s Fruit Cart – A memory-based game, Yoshi’s Fruit Cart has players guiding a wind-up Yoshi to the finish line while collecting all the fruit on the TV screen. The fruit is only viewable on the TV and you must draw the path while looking at the GamePad.
Octopus Dance – A rhythm-based dancing game inspired by Game and Watch Octopus. Players must memorize and mimic the moves of the diver/dancer using the GamePad control sticks and Gyro Sensor.
Instead of having an iconic representation for Nintendo Land, Monita, a robotic computer-looking mascot has been introduced to show players around the park and provide help and commentary. She’s boring, ugly and a waste of resources as far as I’m concerned. Nothing about her says “Nintendo” and using her instead of, say, Mario, is almost an insult in itself, especially considering the atmosphere Nintendo Land is trying to create.
For the most part, Nintendo Land is one of the stronger launch titles. Sure, it’s a collection of mini-games, but most of the mini-games are a lot of fun and diverse enough to make you feel like you’re getting the most out of your new Wii U console. My only real complaint is that the competitive attractions don’t offer solo play, which is a shame because I feel they are some of the best mini-games in Nintendo Land.