Review: Nintendo Land is a shining example of a launch title
Back in 2006, gamers picked up their brand new Wii console, with a pack-in game called Wii Sports. Didn't think much of it, until they all started realizing that this particular set of sports mini-games, perfectly showcases the ability of the Wii remote. To this day, Wii Sports is still among gamer's favorite titles on the Wii. When Nintendo Land was first unveiled at E3, reactions were slightly mixed. A collection of Nintendo franchised mini-games seemed enticing, but outside of their novelty, didn't seem to offer much. Many wondered whether Nintendo Land could do what Wii Sports did for the Wii.
Nintendo Land presents players with a theme park they can explore at their leisure, and take part of 12 various mini-games that are based on many popular Nintendo franchises. You have mini-games based on Metroid, Mario, Animal Crossing, Pikmin, Donkey Kong, Luigi's Mansion, F-Zero, Zelda and more. A few key franchises are missing like Kirby and Star Fox, but Nintendo has done wonders with what's available.
Each of the 12 mini-games has some sort of purpose for Nintendo's new flagship controller, the Gamepad. In Zelda you use the Gamepad to aim and shoot with a bow, in Metroid you fly a ship and aim to shoot, in F-Zero you hold it vertically and steer, in Yoshi's Cart you draw a path with the stylus, etc. Each and every game uses the Gamepad in unique ways.
The 12 attractions are split up into categories. There are three team games for 1-5 players, three competitive games for 2-5 players and six solo games. It's a good mix, especially if you have friends over, who may want to get in on the fun, whether you're helping each other out, or maybe want to start a friendly competition. The players who aren't holding a Wii U gamepad however will have to play with a Wii remote that has Wii motion plus functionality. It's a little strange to be using controllers that belonged to an older generation Nintendo console but they actually work really great! The sword swinging in Zelda seems natural and even blasting space pirates as Samus is totally awesome!
It might seem that 12 mini-games might not be as much, but thankfully each one has multiple levels or settings to play on, which will undoubtedly take some time to get through.
While playing these mini-games, you accumulate coins, which can then be used in a Pachinko styled mini-game that unlocks various statues and decorations for your theme park. My favorite being the Jukebox, since I can then listen to all the amazing music in the game (after I unlocked it of course). Each attraction also has various stickers (read: Achievements) to gain, trophies to acquire based on your score, or stars to attain once you completely finish each mini-game in its entirety.
Your park will eventually fill up (if you have Miiverse set up) with various other players and their posts. I wasn't sure whether I'd like Miiverse and its integration into various games, but after seeing it in action, it's simply brilliant. Having trouble with Donkey Kong's Crash Course? Post about it, someone might reply and help you out. It's really great to see players reactions or frustrations with the game and some of its levels, and really gives it that community aspect of indirectly communicating with other players. It might not be online multiplayer, but it's damn cool.
Now the word HD wasn't synonymous with Nintendo for a long time, but Nintendo Land really wants to remind everyone that the Wii U is in fact a full HD console, and boy does it look gorgeous. Your Mii's aren't all that impressive looking, but it's the costumes and the levels that will make you gaze in awe. On one hand, Nintendo is definitely late to the HD game, but Nintendo Land gave me a sneak peak just how gorgeous future Nintendo titles like Zelda and Mario might look like, and I can't tell you how excited I am for them.
The sound design is absolutely fantastic as well. Classic themes will play for each game you play, sometimes reorchestrated, sometimes in their old-school 8bit style, sometimes a combination of both, and hearing these songs not only fills me up with nostalgia, it once again shows the love and dedication Nintendo has for its first party games.
Nintendo Land is not only an amazing launch title, it might very well be the best launch title to date. It might not be a fully fledged game with a 20 hour campaign or some crazy online multiplayer, but don't let that fool you, this is as much of a retail title like any other Wii U launch game. If you didn't get the Deluxe Wii U bundle, you still owe it to yourself to get yourself a copy of Nintendo Land. It perfectly accommodates Wii U adopters with the Gamepad, pays homage to classic Nintendo franchises, and is something I'd proudly bust out during a party.