‘Nintendo Land’: The Review

By: 11.29.12

Nintendo hasn’t exactly shied away from saying it hopes Nintendo Land will be this generation’s Wii Sports, which is a perfectly reasonable thing for them to want — Wii Sports made them literally billions of dollars. That said, if you ignore for a moment the giant stacks of money it generated, Wii Sports’ legacy is a mixed one to say the least. It was a brilliantly designed product, perfectly tailored to a demographic the video game industry had ignored up until then, but as a game it wasn’t much. It was five shallow minigames (only three of which actually worked).

Well, the good news is Nintendo Land, as a game, blows Wii Sports, as well as every other minigame collection Nintendo has done, out of the water. Read on for why…

Nintendo Land is made up of 12 “attractions”, half of which are devoted to showing off Nintendo’s heralded “asymmetric gameplay”, the other half of which are single player minigames designed to show off various abilities of the GamePad.

Three of the multiplayer attractions are basically takes on the much-beloved (by Nintendo and Nintendo fans alike) Pac-Man Vs. The best of this bunch is Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, but all the attractions provide simple couch-jostling fun. These attractions (Ghost Mansion, Mario Chase and Animal Crossing: Sweet Day) will be the ones you break out most often during large gatherings.

You’re pretty much guaranteed to find at least a few attractions you like. Unless you’re a jerk

The other three multiplayer attractions are mostly devoted to co-op play. These ones are best suited to two-person play with a buddy or girlfriend (adding too many people to these modes just causes chaos). The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest is an on-rails action game in which Wiimote holders slash enemies with swords, while the person with the GamePad shoots arrows. Metroid Blast casts Wiimote players as Samus Aran (who controls much like she did in the Metroid Prime games), while the GamePad holder pilots her gunship. Finally, Pikmin Adventure is a fun Gauntlet-like hack and slash (and Nintendo Land’s best attraction overall). These co-op attractions are Nintendo Land’s meatiest — any one of them packs in more content than all of Wii Sports’ minigames combined (Pikmin Adventure for instance, serves up a whopping 22 unique stages).

Nintendo Land’s single player attractions generally aren’t as substantial as its multiplayer offerings, but most are solid little time-wasters nonetheless. Yoshi’s Fruit Cart, in which you draw lines on the GamePad to direct Yoshi towards tasty fruit and Captain Falcon’s Twister Race in which you steer an F-Zero car by tilting the GamePad are surprising standouts. The only dud of the bunch (and really, the only dud in all of Nintendo Land) is Takamaru’s Ninja Castle, a shooting gallery that has you awkwardly swiping throwing stars off the GamePad screen.

So, Nintendo Land is a fun game. The deepest, most dependably entertaining minigame collection Nintendo has ever made. Unfortunately for Nintendo I don’t think it’s destined to be the console-selling dynamo Wii Sports was.

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The precisely formulated, streamlined menus and generic visuals of Wii Sports have been replaced by a bustling, garish hub area, that only gets more bustling and garish the longer you play. The bland graphics of the Wii-line have been swapped for a more traditional Nintendo look — colorful, stylized and often downright cute.

This is Monita. Don’t do a Google image search for him/her with the filter off. Yes, apparently Monita-porn is a thing.

Then there’s Monita. Monita is a flying computer screen/robot thing that hounds you with constant rules and instructions throughout the first few hours of Nintendo Land. I can see what Nintendo’s trying to do. They’re trying to make Nintendo Land’s attractions as approachable as possible, but the constant barrage of information has the opposite effect. I’m a veteran gamer, and even my head started to swim after a while.

Nintendo Land isn’t going to be the next Wii Sports — at least not in the way Nintendo wants it to be. Nintendo Land will have your grandparents running for the hills, or at the very least have them complaining about the game’s lack of bowling and cow racing. But you know what? I’m not here to analyse the financial viability of Nintendo Land, I’m here to tell you whether it’s fun, and I’m glad to report it is.

“Ugh, yuck. Colorful. Cartoony. Back to Wii Sports Bowling” – Old people you know

Not only did I have a blast with Nintendo Land, but it gave me a real sense of the Wii U’s potential. Nintendo Land is something long time Nintendo fans are almost guaranteed to enjoy, which was clearly one of the company’s aims — they have a lot of lapsed fans to win back. That said, I think Nintendo’s also hoping Nintendo Land will appeal to their casual Wii audience, and why not? Both casual and veteran gamers bought Wii Sports. This time around though, they may not be able to have things both ways.

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