When Nintendo Land appeared during Nintendo’s E3 2012 Conference, there was a bit of mixed interest among the Zelda Informer staff. We weren’t quite sure what to make of it, but Alex and I made a silent agreement that we were going to give it a shot before judging it. I’ve seen many comparisons with this amusement park and Wii’s Wii Sports and Wii Fit. Nintendo even stated that Nintendo Land is to Wii U what Wii Sports was for Wii, but upon playing the mini games it isn’t completely accurate. It isn’t a type of collection that will get everyone swinging and bowling, and seems to try to convert casual players into trying the original titles these mini games come from.
Alex has already written about Wii U and Nintendo Land a bit, but we’re going to team up to give your both of our accounts for each of the five games Nintendo had on the floor for people to try out.
I can say this straight off the bat: I was the Nintendo Land Master.
Animal Crossing: Sweet Day is one of the titles that makes use of teamwork to win. The player holding the Wii U GamePad controls two guards who are in charge of protecting a candy orchard from the sweet loving animals. The humans, who are Miis with animal head hats on, have to work together to collect 50 pieces of candy while avoiding the guards that hunt them down. The guards player uses the two analog sticks to control each different guard, and can use the triggers to attack/lunge at the animals to stop them. The Wii U GamePad has it’s very own screen to allow the guard to get different view of the land, depending on how close or far apart the two guards are. If they are spread apart, they can get the view of the entire orchard.
The animals trying to collect the candy have to be careful though. They don’t get a large view of the map, so the guards can easily pin them down for an ambush if they aren’t careful. They have three basic controls: run, pick up candy, and drop candy. The more candy an animal collects, the larger their head becomes. This in turn slows them down, so in order to escape the guards the animal players often have to drop their load and flee to return later. Certain trees in the orchard need multiple animals to get the candies down too, so this is another way that the animals must work together to defeat the GamePad using player.
This game was so much fun. Before Alex and I went up, we only saw the guards win as the other players struggled to work together and collect all the candy. I was the first of the two of us to go, and was one of the candy loving animals. It was a bit of a learning experience, because two of the other players with me didn’t speak English. There was a lot of hollering and exclamations, though, and one of the other animals was pinned between the two different guards. We had no way of defending ourselves, so we lost.
It was a whole different story on my second play through though. Alex had joined in next to me, as well as another unknown player. I just called him blue elephant, I believe. I immediately pointed to each of them, ordering them to figure out which animal each of us were so that we could call when we needed. I take my gaming very seriously, after all. During the game, we had to coordinate with each other, warning the others when a guard appeared, and calling each other over to get the trees with the most candy. At one point I had both guards chasing me, and had to dump most of my load to escape. I was yelling warning calls to the others to avoid where I was heading, and upon realization of what I was doing, was eventually left alone by the guards. We were one of the first groups to win as the animal team, and high fives were sent all around.
We won a second time as well, but that winning streak ended the moment I got my hands on the GamePad. Playing the animals was a lot of fun because I had to work with the others players, but chasing everybody around the orchard was just as good. By spreading out my guards, I was able to see where most of the players were and begin a special plan. I sent the guards to come from two different directions, so that when one of the guards was seeable by the players, they ran right into the second. Everybody was yelling in exclamation, and it was such a fun gaming experience.
With our first trip to Nintendo Land game, Alex and I already had begun to see the bright side of this amusement park. This chase-based game will easily cater to the casual gamer, but any veteran like Alex and myself and still get caught up in the excitement and enjoy it.
Sweet Day is, well, sweet. It was a really great showcase of asymmetrical gameplay. Using the traditional NES control layout with the Wii Remote is a totally different beast than trying to navigate two characters using the GamePad’s two analog sticks, and the different vantage points offered by the split-screen views on the big screen and the shifting camera angles of the GamePad screen added even more variety.
The game’s also incredibly hectic - especially when you’re playing with the Wii Remotes. Should you try to join up with another member of your team to go for the high-paying candy trees, or split up to avoid capture? Should you hang on to your candy stash to rack up points, or should you dump a few to make your character a little lighter? It’s a surprisingly deep game considering the simple premise; it really challenges you to think about risks vs. rewards. Playing with the GamePad is equally fun but offers a different set of challenges. Now you have to coordinate both your patrol dudes together to effectively corner your opponents.
This game is definitely the new Chase Mii, and if you’ve been following my excitement for Wii U you know that that was my must-have game from last year’s E3. My only concern is that Nintendo might stick to only one map layout, limiting the potential for replay enjoyment - but I suppose that in the worst case there’s always the possibility of DLC down the line…
This is a game that is very similar to a demo seen last year. It uses the GamePad as a launcher for ninja stars, and is based on an early Famicom game available only in Japan. It’s single-player, and you just have to swipe over the touch screen and aim with the controller in different angles to throw them. You earn more points for consecutive hits, so just firing like mad won’t get you a very high score.
I was the only one to try this game out, since it was one player and pretty basic compared to the others. The guys in front of me were throwing the shuriken like crazy, and I think I impressed the guy in charge of the station when I actually took my time to aim the controller and got a high combination score. It was pretty easy to control, but the enemies got more intense as I went further into the level. Eventually I had enemies throwing shuriken and bombs back at me, and I had to deflect those as well. It reminded me of those target games seen at amusement parks(I see what you did there , Nintendo), where targets move across and you have to hit them before they disappear. It was simple in design, but it wasn’t a game that left me craving for more.
This game is probably the closest Nintendo comes to creating something that truly follows up Wii Sports in the entire Nintendo Land lineup. I didn’t actually try it out, but it looks very much like Wii U’s answer to Duck Hunt... only instead of a light gun, you use the Wii U GamePad. There’s a lot of potential here, especially if they expand the experience with multiple courses and difficulties.
Donkey Kong’s Crash Course is another one player game, but this time it uses the GamePad’s motion control for controls. The player simply tilts the controller to guide a very fragile rolling card through a dangerous and complex looking obstacle course that resembles the original Donkey Kong arcade game. It even has the music, which Erica was singing along to the entire time. The obstacle course also requires the player to use both triggers to activate switches and platforms, or use the analog switch to rotate obstacles throughout the course, so it uses more than just the motion controls.
The GamePad screen is much smaller, and allows the player a closer look at the level than the large screen. The large screen is still helpful though, because it allows people watching the player to warn about future hazards, or allow the player to glance up to see how much farther they have to go.
This game was challenging. I didn’t see anybody make it to the end, and I only made it about halfway through before losing my final life. If you crash into a wall too fast, you splatter all over the place. The cart gets caught easily if you’re going to slow over an edge, and some obstacles will smash you. I only got as far as I did by watching the people ahead of me die, so I learned from their mistakes.
I was surprised by the challenge this game held, and know that I would have to play multiple times and learn each trick and tip one by one to finally make it to Pauline.
The GamePad gyro sensor is very sensitive. It’s not problematic, but will take some getting used to before you can make it very far without crashing after every steep hill or drop. This game is very much an appeal to the arcade lover, since you will probably actually get a Game Over on your first few tries. Who knew those things even existed anymore?
My only concern is - and this is definitely a running theme for each of the attractions - that what we saw in the demo is all we’re going to get. I want more and more complicated stages, at least one based on each of the levels from the original Donkey Kong would suffice, but more would just be awesome. This is a game that I can see lasting people a long time if the depth of content is there.
This is another four-player attraction, and has elements similar to Animal Crossing: Sweet Day. The player with the GamePad controls a yellow ghost, invisible to the other players, that is trying to capture the four humans within the dark mansion armed with flashlights. The ghost has to sneak around while avoiding the flashlights of the other players, and try to capture them one by one. The humans have to work together if they want to be successful in defeating the ghost. When a player is taken down, they can be revived by another player’s flashlight. It takes a couple seconds to complete the process, so they have to be careful not to get captured themselves. If all four humans are knocked out, the ghost wins. If the ghost’s HP is fully depleted by their lights, then the humans win. This game was another title that showed five total players playing on the one console, which was pretty sweet.
The game only has a few control functions for each different role. The ghost has the ability to press the A button to sprint, but automatically latches on to a human once close enough. Sprinting allows the others to see the ghost, however, so be careful when using it. The analog controls movement for all players, and the humans can turn their flashlights on and off. The flashlights have limited battery life, so running out is extremely dangerous as it leaves human players susceptible to the ghost. They can fortunately find battery refills scattered throughout the mansion should they have need.
I conquered this game as well. I didn’t lose a single round while playing, whether I was the ghost or the humans. The man in charge of the station challenged my ability, and I accepted and thwarted him accordingly. It was so much fun. At first I played as a human, which really gets your heart thumping. The ghost is completely invisible to us except when it sprints, which is mostly only seen when it’s dragging off one of our teammates.
When I was human, we mostly hollered out everyone’s colors to figure out a strategy. When one of us was taken by the ghost, one player would begin to revive them while the other two guarded their blind spots. If you don’t use teamwork in reviving fallen humans, the ghost can easily sneak up from behind and claim another victim.
I think I enjoyed playing as the ghost the most. My heart was thumping like crazy, which is ironic since I was playing as the scary ghost. I could hear the humans frantically calling out to each other as I hunted them down. The level is set up with a couple rooms, and each human started in the corners while I, as the ghost, started in the center. The beginning was the ideal time to pick off the first human, because they are far apart from each other. Once I had one down, it was all about timing and choosing the player farthest away from the rest.
This was another fantastic game that had me craving for more. It had the same type of chasing theme that Animal Crossing did, but it has both sides doing the chasing instead of just one.
More virtual tag! I love it! I’m not sure which I like more, Ghost Mansion or Sweet Day, but both of them tickle my multiplayer fancy in a way that few games have been able to achieve in recent years.
As Erica said, the balance between team and solo gameplay strikes a really nice chord with this game. If the human players spread out in just the right way and reserve their flashlights for just the right strategic moments, they’ll be able to keep up with the ghost with few issues. Of course, you can’t all crowd in one place, or else it’ll be easy for the ghost to just avoid you until one player is isolated from the group. Split up too much or fail to conserve battery life, however, and the ghost will nab you one by one. Again, it’s a very good use of risk vs. reward style gameplay.
The asymmetrical elements are nice, too. The ghost can see everyone, but they can’t see the ghost outside of the light. Meanwhile, the ghost has four players to contend with while they only have to track down one ghost. The mansion’s rooms are divided up nicely so that players can effectively guard chambers and corridors, but they have to be careful not to leave themselves exposed.
It’d be nice to see more mansion layouts in the final game, but even in its current form Ghost Mansion is a lot of fun and a good multiplayer home arcade experience.
Yes, we saved the Zelda themed game for last. It was different from the others multiplayer mini games, for it had all the players working together for the same goal instead of against each other. The player with the GamePad is an archer that can aim and shoot arrows using the screen as a view finder. The other players, who are using swords, use their Wii Remote Plus Controllers like swords. It’s just like Skyward Sword too, for holding your sword up can charge it for a devastating attack. There are a variety of enemies to fight as well, some with shields that can block inaccurate sword swings, and others far away that need to be picked off with arrows. There are switches too that need to be coordinated by all the players, and a final boss at the end of a level. We didn’t get to defeat him though - our archer assistant got killed before too long. The game has a different take on health, for all the players share the health meter.
The game’s visuals are different from the rest of the series. Everything is made of cloth, which gives even the baddies a cute, toy-like appearance.
Oh boy, where to start? Alex and I were both professional Wii Motion Plus swordsmen before even picking up the mini game. We just had to use the B button to use the shields, but it was strange to share health with the others. The archer is extremely vulnerable, and was often the player to lose the last bit of health in the final boss fight. I thought the game was extremely cute, and it reminded me a bit of Kirby’s Epic Yarn visually. I would love some plushies based off of the mini game, and I’m sure we will see fans making them fairly soon.
The player doesn’t control where they move - all that action is on-rails. All we had to focus on was attacking and defending, and the game automatically pushed us forward. I didn’t use the bow, but I was able to see the GamePad player use the analog sticks and touch screen to aim and fire arrows. The GamePad also gave a different view than what we saw as swordsmen, which was pretty neat.
This actually wasn’t my most favorite of Nintendo Land, to be honest. It was fun though, and a highlight I’m sure for many people visiting Nintendo Land.
Sword combat feels really similar to Skyward Sword‘s, except snappier and a lot more responsive. Battles are also more fast-paced, with (get this) more punishing enemies that will immediately counterattack if they block your hits. Your shield is also much less overpowered, and revolves less around flicking it up at the last moment and more knowing when to back off on the offensive and throw up your shield in anticipation of an enemy projectile or attack. I actually got hit quite a few times - I managed to win back some health through strong performances later on, but those hits definitely stung - but one you get used to the flow of things I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s super-hard or anything.
Personally, I enjoyed the change in tempo and think it would suit Motion Plus combat in future Zelda games. If this is a sign that they’re thinking about re-incorporating Motion Plus to some extent, count me in.