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Review

Nintendo Land Review

  • Game release: November 18, 2012
  • Reviewed: November 17, 2012
  • WIIU

Nintendo Land's varied attractions offer plenty of family-friendly fun and make great use of the Wii U's capabilities.

by

Nintendo knows a thing or two about crafting worlds that have memorable, immediately recognizable characteristics. Perhaps, for you, the five-note theme that often accompanies Samus' appearance in Metroid games always conjures memories of many happy hours spent exploring alien landscapes. Maybe a glimpse of the Triforce is enough to stir the heart of the legendary hero residing in you. In Nintendo Land, the storied developer leverages the fondness many players feel for some of its most enduring series, while also employing some properties you probably haven't thought about in decades, or you never even knew existed. But while the window dressing at this amusement park of Nintendo-based attractions lends the game a good deal of personality, the real attraction is the gameplay.

There are 12 attractions accessible from the plaza that serves as Nintendo Land's hub. Six of them are for one player, three allow for both solo players or groups, and three are multiplayer only. The most serene attraction is the single-player Yoshi's Fruit Cart. Here, your Mii is placed in a cart modeled on the titular lovable dinosaur. The screen on the tablet and the screen on the television both show a green environment from a top-down view. On the TV, however, you can see fruits to collect and sometimes hazards to avoid, while the screen on the tablet shows only your starting position, the exits, and any patterns or shadows that might be on the stage's surface. You must draw a line on the tablet that takes the cart from its starting point to the exit, eating all the available fruit and winding your way around hazards.

It's a pleasantly absorbing exercise, trying to draw a safe path on the tablet using the information on the TV, sometimes relying on the shadows of clouds or other environmental features for reference. Completing stages is quite easy at first, but the challenge ramps up steadily as fruit starts to move in circular patterns and pitfalls become more prevalent. On these harder stages, it's a bit nerve-racking to hit the Go! button after drawing your line, and then watch the cart follow your path and hope it safely navigates its way through the hazards surrounding it.

The solo attraction Octopus Dance picks up the pace a bit. (Who is Octopus, you ask? Why, he's the star of the Game and Watch game Octopus, of course!) In this attraction, your Mii becomes a deep-sea-diving dancer who tries to keep up with the moves demonstrated by an instructor. (Octopus is content to watch from the background, and occasionally squirt some ink that obscures your view on the tablet but leaves the TV unaffected.) The left and right thumbsticks on the tablet move your left and right arms; you can tilt the tablet to lean, and shake it to jump. That's all you need to do to perform all of the dance moves.

No actual ninjas are harmed during Takamaru's Ninja Castle.

The moves come in sets of three and sometimes come at you very quickly, so just taking note of what you need to do and then doing it along with the rhythm gets tricky. Making matters trickier still is the fact that your Mii sometimes gets spun around by the dance instructor, which encourages you to shift your gaze between the tablet and the TV. It's easier to mimic dance moves when you're viewing your Mii from behind; if he or she is facing you, you have to flip everything around in your brain, which is difficult when things are moving quickly. Octopus Dance is rather simple, but it's nonetheless a fast-paced and fun test of skill that makes interesting use of the Wii U's capacity to show you different things on the tablet and the television.

In Donkey Kong's Crash Course, your Mii is creepily morphed into a roller (a vehicle with springy wheels and the face of your Mii) and placed into an obstacle course whose color scheme and chalk artwork recall the original Donkey Kong. The object is to get your roller safely to the end of each obstacle course by tilting the tablet to roll left or right. Navigating the courses is quite difficult and requires finesse. It's satisfying to guide the roller safely to the goal at the end of the course, but the extreme fragility of the roller, as well as the bothersome need to blow on the microphone occasionally to move platforms, makes Crash Course one of the lesser attractions at Nintendo Land.

Takamaru's Ninja Castle takes its name from a 1986 Famicom game that never saw release outside of Japan. In this first-person on-rails attraction, you infiltrate a ninja fortress to rescue a kidnapped princess. You hold the tablet with the screen pointed at the television lengthwise, and slide your finger along the screen to toss throwing stars at the cute cardboard ninjas who stand in your way. The action is fast, the star-throwing motion feels natural, and the environments have an endearing handcrafted look.

In Captain Falcon's Twister Race, you often can't see far ahead of you on the TV.

Captain Falcon's Twister Race tosses you into the futuristic purple racer of Captain Falcon. The television displays a traditional behind-the-vehicle view common to many racing games, which is great for any spectating friends. In the driver's seat, however, you're usually better served by the top-down perspective provided on the tablet, which gives you a much better view of upcoming turns, speed-boosting arrows, and obstacles. Your racer always heads straight up on the tablet; tilting the tablet to steer, you try to find the speediest route along the twisty track. The controls are terrifically responsive; if you go careening off the track or speed straight into a hazard, it's your fault, not the game's. The course starts out simple but gets progressively more treacherous, and it's fun to return to Twister Race to improve your best times and compete with those established by other players.

Balloon Trip Breeze is a side-scrolling attraction in which you watch the television while moving the stylus on the tablet, which creates breezes that carry your balloon-wearing Mii along. The indirect control method makes avoiding floating spikes and avian adversaries pleasantly tricky, and the presentation, in which curtains of various colors hang in the background to suggest different times of day, is charming.

Moving on to attractions that support multiple players, The Legend of Zelda Battle Quest lets you and up to three friends venture into Nintendo Land's charming fabric-and-buttons imitation of Hyrule. If you wield the tablet, your weapon is a bow. As you move the tablet around, the screen acts like a window into the gameworld, letting you look in any direction. Pulling back on the right stick draws your bow, and releasing it lets your arrow fly. If you're playing with a Wii Remote, you take the role of a swordsman. Swordplay is similar to that in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Enemies are often shielded from vertical strikes but vulnerable to horizontal swings (or vice versa), and you've got to change up your attacks accordingly. Both swordplay and archery feel great, and the freedom to look in all directions via the tablet is a particularly nifty use of the Wii U's capabilities. Unfortunately, though this attraction can be played by one player, the difficulty doesn't scale well; unless you approach it with a good number of friends, the challenge becomes overwhelming after the first few stages.

Most of Nintendo Land's attractions are pleasantly simple and straightforward, but Pikmin Adventure strays into shallowness. Your role again varies depending on whether you're playing with the tablet or with a remote. With the tablet, your Mii dons Captain Olimar's spacesuit and attacks enemies and environmental objects by throwing pikmin at them; you simply tap something on the touch screen to hurl pikmin at it. If you're playing with a remote, you dress up as a pikmin and attack things directly. There's a solo or cooperative Challenge mode in which you try to progress through 16 stages, and a competitive Versus mode in which players battle it out to see who can claim the most candy. It's diverting for a little while, and the Pikmin-esque trappings are cute, but the button-mashing (or, if you're playing with the tablet, whatever you call the touch screen equivalent of button-mashing) gameplay is too basic to make this attraction more than a brief diversion.

Significantly better than Pikmin Adventure is Metroid Blast. With the tablet, you take control of a cartoonishly small version of Samus Aran's gunship. The piloting controls are intuitive, and because the vulnerable spots on enemies are often quite small, you'll want to take advantage of the ship's zoom function and engage in some satisfying sharpshooting as you soar around. With a remote and nunchuk, you fight on foot in the Mii equivalent of Samus' distinctive suit. The competitive option in Metroid Blast pits the gunship pilot against the other players. The pilot has the advantage of aerial maneuverability, but the other players are smaller, more elusive targets, capable of curling up into a ball and of zipping up to grapple points scattered around the arena. (You can also eschew the tablet and just battle on the ground.)

Competitive Metroid Blast is an enjoyable sci-fi shootout, especially if you and your friends take turns piloting the gunship. And the solo or cooperative Assault Mission mode is a great offering that takes you through a variety of Metroid-inspired environments and pits you against an assortment of Metroid-inspired enemies, including a towering version of the monster Kraid.

Pixel-style murals in attraction entrance hallways are a nice decorative touch.

Finally, there are those attractions that are strictly multiplayer and competitive. Each of these features asymmetrical multiplayer in which the player with the tablet plays a very different role from those wielding remotes. In Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, players with remotes run around an environment collecting candy. The player with the tablet controls two gatekeepers, one with each thumbstick, and tries to catch the other players, who move more slowly as they pick up more candy. Controlling the two gatekeepers puts you in a position where a number of things might be competing for your attention and you have to make quick decisions about how best to corner and capture the other players. As a fruit collector, you have your own decisions to make when the gatekeepers are near. Do you jettison some fruit to gain speed, or do you hang on to the fruit you've collected and risk getting caught in pursuit of the glory of victory?

Luigi's Ghost Mansion casts the player with the tablet as a ghost who must sneak up on the other players, causing them to faint. The other players are ghost hunters equipped with flashlights; if they catch the ghost in the beam of their light, the ghost flees and loses some health. The ghost is invisible on the television screen, though it may become briefly visible in a flash of lightning. Ghost hunters must use their flashlights sparingly--batteries drain quickly--but remotes start to vibrate when the ghost is near, encouraging ghost hunters to call out to each other and work together to defeat the ghost. It's suspenseful to feel the ghost near you and frantically try to find it with your flashlight, and playing as the ghost, successfully sneaking up to spook a ghost hunter is satisfying.

The best of the competitive bunch, though, is also the most traditional. Mario Chase is just a big game of hide-and-seek with a nifty technological twist. The player with the tablet is Mario; everyone else is a Toad whose job is to pursue Mario. In the Mario role, the tablet's screen shows you a map of the entire arena, and you can see your pursuers' positions at all times. This certainly gives you an edge, but you're outnumbered, and though the Toads don't know where you are, they can always see how far away from you they are, and whether they're getting closer to you or further away. Arenas are divided into four colored zones, making it easy for pursuers to call out to each other when they spot Mario and rally everyone to that area. It's a game full of thrilling captures and narrow escapes of the sort that elicit squeals of delight from victors and cries of anguish from losers. All in all, it's simply a great time.

The arenas for Mario Chase are the ideal size for exciting rounds of hide-and-seek.

There's one last thing to do in Nintendo Land. In each attraction, you earn coins, and you can spend these coins to play a simple game reminiscent of Peggle. Clearing stages here earns you prizes that reside in the park plaza. The pixelated coin drop game is oddly compelling, and it's rewarding to see your plaza go from an empty space to one filled with neat Nintendo-y things.

But like Nintendo Land's use of familiar properties, this bevy of prizes to collect wouldn't be worth much if it wasn't supported by good gameplay. Thankfully, it is. Nintendo Land isn't just a fine showcase of the Wii U's capabilities, though it certainly is that. It's also a great game in its own right, and particularly if you have friends or family members with whom you can play all of the multiplayer attractions, it's a great way to start getting a lot of enjoyment out of the new console immediately.

The Good
Fun single-player attractions make good use of the Wii U tablet
Plenty of enjoyable ways to play with friends cooperatively and competitively
Mario Chase is a terrific twist on hide-and-seek
Nintendo themes give the attractions some charm
The Bad
A few attractions are too difficult or too shallow
8
Great
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Discussion

2 comments
NinjaMaddy
NinjaMaddy

The game would be 10x better if it had online multiplayer. COME ON NINTENDO

Icemansin
Icemansin

Is this really a review? About 95% of the review is just a description of all the mini-games that this game has to offer, which can be gleaned from previous articles. The whole point of a review is for the reviewer to actually share their opinion about the game... The only semblance of any sort of an opinion came from the last paragraph.

 

What a disappointing review!

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

Seems Nintendo has turned all those "Wii U experinces" from E3 2011 into a full game. Chase mii became Mario Chase, The Ninja throwing star experince became a full Ninja game from the Japanese NES. Takamaru's Ninja castle. Battle mii became Metriod blast. Luigi's Ghost mansion was also an E3 2011 Wii U experience. Only the Pirate Wii U experience didn't make it into a Nintendoland attaction mini game. Shield Pose. But Nintendo did manage to turn those Experiences from E3 2011 into a "pack in game" whose purpose is to introduce the Gamepad functions.

 

If it wasn't included with the Wii U deluxe set. I personally wouldn't have bought this game separately. For a extra $50.00 this is alright for a throw in. Along with all of the Wii U deluxe extras.

canderosn983
canderosn983

Can anyone tell me what TV he is playing on?

PodXCOM
PodXCOM

I think this review is boring and awful.

King9999
King9999

Nintendo Land is a lot of fun.  Guys, give it a try and gets some friends to play it with.

thom_maytees
thom_maytees

Unlike Gametrailers.com's review, GameSpot's is more positive and fitting for a game that is better than what people think it is.

Gamertag-TFTW
Gamertag-TFTW

Good review, thankyou Caro loved it and love you you're so pretty.

iwoof
iwoof

Please use 8.0 as a judgment to cast for NEW GEN.   Not verse current gen

 

That's the only thing I can take here, because as a NEW GEN I think 8.0 is acceptable, but compared to current gen this is like a 9.5 in my SHORT LIVED LIVE Stream viewing of this game. Really impressed. 

I wasn't expecting anything but an upgrade or Wii 1.5  to Wii with Wii U  BUT 

I think Wii U looks Next Gen so far. 

 

Gamespot = just hatin' OR creating a new scale for next gen (which is sort of getting out of hand, and there just needs to be one, not Xbox vs xbox and 3ds vs 3ds)

 

but eventually this could be something really great soon. 

 

** This game seems like a demo to future games. 

Expensive but great! XD

 

 

tealmantis793
tealmantis793

So does anyone think that the crown guy for Nintendo Land looks like the Lord of Games from Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts?

tgwolf
tgwolf

Well this sounds good only because of the violence-driven elements, the Hyrule mock-up specifically. I especially appreciate the implementation of a not-so-augmented reality that the tablet becomes...Here finally the technology is being put to good use and the Wii U shows some particular promise.

Flint247
Flint247

This game looks good. I hope to get it with the Deluxe Wii U.

dylan417
dylan417

Sounds better than an 8.

mumfaud
mumfaud

For all u playing the wii u right now i am jealous.  

PyroX4414
PyroX4414

I have to stop watching reviews.  Next thing I know 300 dollars is gone and I'm sleeping on the couch.  

rushiosan
rushiosan

I lost my faith on Gamespot. If it's a pretty good game with only 1 flaw, why give it an 8.0?

toshineon
toshineon

This actually looks pretty great. Looks fun, and has some pretty graphics too. I know it's not fantastic, but think about it, how great did the PS3's and Xbox 360's launch titles look compared to the games now? Exactly.

franzito
franzito

As always, Nintendo keeps its good scores on GS.

GH05T-666
GH05T-666

Nintendo Land looks fun for a free game you get with the 32GB console.

What other system offers a free game with their console?

Go Nintendo, cant wait to get one!

themagicbum9720
themagicbum9720

lol at reviewer complaining about difficult minigames.

megakick
megakick

played this when it was called Warioware and Mario Party... NintendoLand should have been the the better Xbox Live.

UnwantedSpam
UnwantedSpam

What a sexy looking game. Get some friends, some snacks, and a night off, and we'll all have a good time. Can't wait to check out the Metroid Blast and Zelda Battle Quest portions. :D

Superzone
Superzone

8.0 for a game I'm getting free with my system?  Sounds good to me.

bubnux
bubnux

They'd better not dole it out in a cardboard flap like Wii Sports to 32GB purchasers! 

Raxyman
Raxyman

 @IsaacClarke1 Once again, Nintendo is threading in casual gaming. In party games and etc...

 

A Launch title should be a new Zelda, Mario Metroid or anything like that, beggining the console with this kind of game is just... Wrong.

Fiendvinny
Fiendvinny

 @iwoof did you watch the "gaintbomb- live stream" earlier, wii-u lagged horribly on epic mickey 2, and that game isn't graphically intense, this isn't a Next Gen Console. Plain and simple... Next gen should be pushing boundaries, not trying to catch up to current ones.

iwoof
iwoof

 @tealmantis793 wow ya this game looks like Banjo nuts and bolts  a lot in total.. graphically

slayer1090
slayer1090

 @rushiosan Difficulty shouldn't be a factor in a review, since some games are tailored towards more experienced people, take Dark Souls for instance

carolynmichelle
carolynmichelle moderator staff

Games don't start at a 10 and just lose points for flaws. 8 is a great score.

Lord_Python1049
Lord_Python1049

 @rushiosan The game can be mediocre and have no bad points or good points, from your logic it would still get a 10...

SoNin360
SoNin360

 @rushiosan What the hell did you expect, a 9.5? There's no direct correlation between how much content is under the "good" and "bad" sections to the score the game gets. Maybe if you read the review you would know why it got an 8, which by the way is a great score, especially for such a casual game.

slayer1090
slayer1090

 @Fiendvinny  @iwoof I not only caught up, but breezed by the other two, seeing as they're old news, last gen consoles.

t3hninj4
t3hninj4

 @Fiendvinny  @iwoof ....And Quake 4 lagged horribly on the Xbox 360, in spite of terrible graphics. Launch games are often rushed and poorly programmed, and Epic Mickey's slowdown likely has much more to do with the game's programmers than the system's capabilities.

00LiteYear
00LiteYear

 @SoNin360  @rushiosan People want games that score 9s or 10s. Can you imagine how many people were annoyed about Skyward Sword getting a 7.5, half a point than this and yet people say it's a good score.

Ka3DX
Ka3DX

 @Raxyman  @King9999  @IsaacClarke1 That's exactly what Nintendo have done by releasing a party game along with another title upon release. Nintendo Land shows that the Wii U can be for casual and fun gaming with friends and family, Mario U shows they can get a bit more serious and will do so, and then AC3, ME3, Batman, zombiU etc. all show that the Wii U will also cater to the more hardcore gamers. Wii U launched with great and perfectly varied games, all of which have received high ratings that the 3DS and VITA's launch titles. I really don't see what you should be complaining about.

Raxyman
Raxyman

 @King9999  @IsaacClarke1 It does, but still, a party game shouldn't be release title. The release titles kind of shape what the console will be. My point of view at least.

Jhowkun
Jhowkun

the game isn't totally free, but I love that Nintendo always includes games that shows the console 'power' on their releases

Nintendo Land More Info

First Release on Nov 18, 2012
  • Wii U
Nintendo Land is a fun and lively theme park filled with 12 different attractions, each with its own take on a Nintendo franchise.
7.8
Average User RatingOut of 228 User Ratings
Please Sign In to rate Nintendo Land
Developed by:
Nintendo
Published by:
Nintendo
Genres:
Party/Minigame
Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
Everyone 10+
All Platforms
Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor