Nintendoland; it’s got somewhat of a ring to it hasn’t it? It conjures up images of a place full of endlessly smiling Nintendo IPs where everything is idyllic and you’d see scenes of Link hand-in-hand with Gannondorf; and Samus Aran picking autumnal leaves from Ridley’s hair (I’m aware he has no hair, don’t ruin the moment) after tumbling around on the ground. Nintendoland truly sounds like the place to be if you want good, clean, family fun; and that’s exactly what Nintendo are setting out to do.
Having been allowed out of my world of cynicism and into the grove of Nintendo that was at this years Eurogamer Expo, I got a chance to have a crack at four of the twelve games that Nintendoland offers Wii U premium purchasers. Having played Legend of Zelda Battle Quest, Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, Takamaru’s Ninja Castle and Donkey Kong’s Crash Course it’s clear that Nintendo have decided that Wii Sports was so last-generation and that what families want now is a collection of finely tuned multiplayer – and singleplayer – games.
I could go into the ins and outs each game, but then this article would become one long-winded piece where I continually re-iterate just how capable the Wii U is and how it creates some pretty spectacular visuals too. I’d also be treading old ground by telling you that Nintendoland really does utilise the Wii U GamePad in rather innovative and enjoyable ways – be it as a second screen to chase others; a window into a world that allows you to experience gameplay differently; or simply as a motion sensing controller. One thing that you do need to know is just how fun every game is to play.
While many games in Nintendoland can be played in singleplayer, some seem like they would be nigh on impossible to. Luigi’s Ghost Mansion is one such title. Playing out in a way similar to Pac Man Vs. – except flipped on its head – four Wiimote using players have to scope out a ghost who’s invisible and will capture players. It’s incredibly good fun – especially if you’re the GamePad using ghost – and requires an awful lot of teamwork to successfully beat the ghost with, but unless characters are replaced by the computer when absent, there’s no single-player potential on offer.
Legend of Zelda Battle Quest on the other hand allows for you to play it entirely solo, or with some friends if you so wish. Playing alone makes it incredibly hard, although with two others it was still quite a challenge to work your way through dungeons – more so when your Wiimote isn’t calibrated and the Nintendo representative ignores your pleas to calibrate the damn thing. Each dungeon plays out in a similar fashion to Legend of Zelda Four Swords except it all takes place in an over the shoulder perspective and it’s entirely on rails. I suppose things do need to be streamlined when it’s serving as an introduction to the Wii U’s capabilities – just like Wii Sports did with the Wii.
Both Donkey Kong’s Crash Course and Takamaru’s Ninja Castle work well as single player games, and quite honestly I couldn’t tell you if they are multiplayer or not as I wasn’t given the opportunity to ask as literally hundreds of eager Nintendo fans clambered over one another to grab plastic controls out of each others hands. Crash Course sees you tilting the Wii U pad as you navigate a winding course to the end; think Marble Madness and you’re about halfway there. Ninja Castle on the other hand plays out very much like the tech demo shown at the 2011 E3 Wii U reveal, where you throw shuriken at moving – and really rather cutesy – papercraft targets.
As you’d expect, each game has people shouting at each other with glee as panic sets in. The addition of the GamePad may create a unique experience for one player at a time, but for Wiimote using friends Nintendoland offers up an enjoyable experience with last-gen controllers. If only four games can cause so much mayhem, when Animal Crossing Sweet Day, Metroid Blast, Octopus Dance, Yoshi’s Fruit Cart, Balloon Trio Breeze, Pikmin Adventure, Captin Falcon’s Twister Race and Mario Chase join the party I guarantee that this could well be the most enjoyable bundle game you’ll see Nintendo ship.