Come one, come all! Have a Nintendo-sized ball! Just make sure you bring someone along with you.
Nintendo Land puts your Mii into a barren amusement park where you're greeted by its automaton steward Monita. She gives you a quick tour around Nintendo Land's central hub simply titled Nintendo Plaza. It's a circular plaza outlined with 12 gates, each gate leading to a Nintendo-themed mini-game. As you play these different games, you earn Nintendo Play Coins. By touching the central tower on your tablet, you're whisked to the top of the tower where you can play yet another mini game (similar to Pachinko) to earn prizes. Each price arrives in a Mario Coin Block and when opened, it decorates the plaza with a memento from one of the twelve different games. The more you play, the more exciting and interesting your Nintendo Plaza will look.
The 12 different games are a mix of single player, multiplayer and multiplayer-only games. They are as follows:
Yoshi's Fruit Cart - In this game, you use the stylus to draw a path on the tablet screen from a starting point to a goal. The TV screen shows fruit that you have to collect along the way, so you have to approximate where exactly to draw the line on the tablet screen. It can be tricky sometimes, but after playing for a few minutes, it becomes a rather forgettable mini-game.
Balloon Trip Breeze - Balloon Trip Breeze is obviously inspired by the NES classic Balloon Trip. Your Mii grabs a couple of balloons and then you swipe the tablet screen to cause gusts of wind in whatever direction you need to travel. Your goal is to hit balloons consecutively to build up chains for bigger combos. You can also tap on objects on the tablet screen to destroy them and clear a path. This game is one of the more addictive ones because you'll always want to improve your score.
Captain Falcon's Twister Race - Inspired by F-Zero, this mini-game has you holding the tablet controller lengthwise tilting it left and right to steer. The game wants you to play while watching the tablet screen's overhead view, but it might actually be easier to watch the TV instead, since you can see things coming at you easier. Each area gets progressively harder with more and more obstacles to avoid. This is one of the better single player mini-games, as you'll always strive to go just a little further.
Takamaru's Ninja Castle - In this shooting gallery style mini-game, you hold the tablet controller in one hand, and then flick towards the TV screen to send throwing stars flying at targets. You can also find scrolls to use that give you new powers, and you activate them with different swipe inputs. It's a pretty fun little game, and one of the few that's actually physically demanding.
Donkey Kong's Crash Course - The weirdest game of the bunch, DKCC has you tilting the tablet controller to move around your Mii, which is this triangle .. thing made out of springs. You have to balance the moment just right, or you'll land on your head and break yourself. The TV screen shows the entire stage, but the tablet controller zooms in on your little vehicle so you can focus on particular bits of each area. The latter areas become so hard, they're actually impossible for many people, so this mini-game either might be forgotten about to frustration or become the vice that drives people insane as they dedicate themselves to beating it.
Octopus Dance - In this rhythm-based mini-game, you're partnered next to a dance figure where you mimic different moves by moving the analogue sticks, tilting the controller, or jerking it upwards to make your Mii jump. It's not as easy as it sounds, because your character's orientation is different on the TV screen than it is on the tablet screen. At times, your partner will flip you around, causing you to change your focus from screen to screen. Also, the octopus will blot your screen with ink as well, making it harder to pay attention. This game can be pretty addictive, as you'll want to see just how far you can make it.
Pikmin Adventure - This is one of the star attractions of Nintendo Land. Not only does the game work well, it sticks very closely to the Pikmin formula and looks absolutely fantastic. You can play the game in two forms: Challenge, where you can play by yourself or with up to four other people; or Versus with up to five people. Challenge has you playing progressively harder stages, while versus has you competing among each other to see who can gather as much candy as they can in a certain time limit. Pikmin Adventure also will have anyone who's awaiting Pikmin 3 salivate that much more for it.
The Legend of Zelda Battle Quest - Another star attraction, this on-rails action game has you either playing by yourself or up to three other friends. If you're playing with the tablet, you can use bow and arrows by flicking the right analogue stick back to fire and moving the tablet around to aim. You can also play using the Wii Remote, which will have you using a sword and shield. There is a total of nine different stages, each progressively harder than the next and each concluding with a boss fight. This mini-game is quite possibly the best of the bunch.
Metroid Blast - Another one of the bigger mini-games, Metroid Blast actually has three different modes. Assault Mission can be played with 1-5 players, and has you fighting off waves of enemies in either your ship or on the ground. Surface-Air Combat is a versus mode with up to five players that has the player with the tablet flying the ship while everyone else is on the ground fighting back. Ground Battle is 2-4 players and is exactly what it sounds like. All players shoot each other while running along the ground. This mini-game will keep those that enjoy death match style multiplayer hooked.
Animal Crossing Sweet Day - In this 2-4 player mini-game, one player will control a pair of gate guards, one with each analogue stick while the other players use Wii remotes to move their Miis around in an attempt to gather up as much candy as possible and transport it to drop off sites before time's up. It can get rather chaotic at times, and it takes a bit of getting used to for the player with the tablet controller, as it can be a bit tricky controlling two guards at once.
Luigi's Ghost Mansion - Another 2-4 player mini-game, the player with the tablet controller controls the ghost and can see where the other players are. The other players use Wii remotes that rumble according to the proximity of the ghost. If they get close enough, they can shine their flashlights on the ghost to hurt him. If the player controlling the ghost can manage to sneak up and scare them enough, then that person wins. It's one of the more charming games of Nintendo Land.
Mario Chase - Everyone gangs up on Mario, who is controlled with the tablet controller. Player 1 has two minutes to survive, while the rest of the players have those same two minutes to catch him. Player 1 has the advantage of having a map of the area showing the other players' locations, but the other players have Yoshi carts that constantly sound off which colored zone Player 1 is currently in. Throw in an occasional Invincibility Star that increases the speed of Player 1, and you have the makings for a lot of chaotic moments.
Nintendo Land is quite pleasing to the eye. It showcases a lot of excellent art direction, as each mini-game has that traditional Nintendo aesthetic. There's a terrific range of bright colors being used, and of course, it's nice to enjoy the game in high-definition. Some mini-games look far more spectacular than others, but that can't be helped based on the nature of the game. Once you get your Nintendo Plaza filled with different prizes, then Nintendo Land really becomes a fun-looking place.
Audiowise, it's just a delight. The Nintendo Plaza is filled with the sounds of footsteps and traffic from other Miis as they make their way about the area. As you approach the gate of each attraction, you hear different music. Once you enter, you may even hear 8-bit melodies from the games of origin. The music in general is classic Nintendo; carefree and laid back. Monita sounds very robotic, as it fits her character rather well, and other sound effects have that arcadey feeling that suits them perfectly.
As fun as Nintendo Land is, however, it does miss the mark. The game has constrained itself for the solitary gamer, as a fourth of the game requires other players. This could have been rectified with computer controlled bots or better yet with the inclusion of online multiplayer. It would be very hard to recommend this game at 60 dollars for that reason alone. If you have a decent sized family or continuously hang out with friends, then it becomes more appealing as the game has more enough things to do for a group of gamers. Nintendo Land is a nice pack-in for the deluxe system, but it is lacking enough to not be considered a must-own game.