We give you the lowdown on Nintendo Land's five playable demos.
Nintendo Land is getting a lot of focus from Nintendo at E3 2012. It is ostensibly the Wii Sports of the Wii U, even coming from the same producer, Katsuya Eguchi. The focus is on the concept of asymmetric gameplay, with different gameplay on the TV screen and the screen on the Wii U GamePad. Personally, I wasn’t wowed by anything this game showed off at the Nintendo press conference. However, after playing it, I came away impressed. This might not wow the world like Wii Sports did, but it should be a fun experience that highlights what makes the Wii U cool.
First off, I played Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, which is sort of like Pac-Man Vs. In the game, the Wii U GamePad user controls a ghost and sneaks around the mansion environment, trying to sneak up on the flashlight-wielding Miis who are looking to bust the ghost. The Wii U GamePad user has a full view of the environment, while the other players, using Wii Remotes, can see the full environment, but can’t see the ghost.
However, their flashlights can be used to stun the ghost, and start to drain his health in a manner similar to Luigi’s Mansion. The flashlights have limited batteries, though, and can be drained if used too frequently. They can be replenished by picking up items, but without an active flashlight, the players are sitting ducks for the ghost, who grabs the players when near them and incapacitates them. They can be revived by other players, although it takes time to do so.
Ghost Mansion is very fun, though I would say that it is only the second best Pac-Man Vs. in Nintendo Land. Animal Crossing: Sweet Day is basically what became of last year’s tech demo Chase Mii. The Wii Remote wielders in Sweet Day have to run around the environment and collect candy. However, the candy slows them down, and they only have a narrow view of the environment. You can dump the candy to speed up, though.
Meanwhile, the Wii U GamePad user controls two characters at once: one with the left stick, and the other with the right. It is kind of unorthodox, but it requires some decent strategy, as you have to maneuver two characters to catch the others. You can only see what is around your characters, so you are kind of encouraged to separate the two, getting into a position where you can then trap players and catch them. When you catch three players, or 50 pieces of candy are gathered by your opponents, then the game ends.
The final multiplayer game being shown off was The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, which was a co-op game for three players. Two players used Wii Remotes to control sword-wielding heroes who used Skyward Sword-esque controls. They also had a shield to deflect incoming attacks, and a skyward strike that was a powerful attack (you know, like the skyward strike in Skyward Sword). The third player, using the Wii U GamePad, plays the role of an archer. I, unfortunately, did not get to check this out, but the archer took out enemies from afar, supporting the swordsmen and giving them health-replenishing hearts. If one swordsman fell, the game ended. There was a boss at the end of the level that I also missed, and at the developer roundtable, Producer Katsuya Eguchi mentioned that there will be several levels, and that the E3 demo was a combination of the first few.
The two single-player Nintendo Land demos shown off were hit and miss. The Donkey Kong’s Crash Course is a tilt-and-tumble game filled with a surprising amount of strategy and fun. At first, it seemed simple, but the way the tilting of the Wii U GamePad worked together with pressing the L and R buttons to activate switches was almost rhythmic. Crash Course was very challenging, but every now and then, I feel like I’d get into a zone and get through a chunk of the level. There also appears to be leaderboards for this game, highlighting a high score/speed run aspect of the game.
The second single-player demo was Takamaru’s Ninja Castle, which was teased during last year’s E3 Wii U reveal. All you seem to do in this game is swipe on the touch screen of the GamePad towards the screen to throw shurikens at incoming ninjas. It’s basically a target shooting game, but the shuriken-throwing felt imprecise and the overall game wasn’t that enticing. It was far and away the least impressive of the five Nintendo Land games.
During the developer roundtable, an F-Zero game was shown off for a bit. Basically, it looked like F-Zero with Miis and a more cartoony art style. There was nothing shown off about the F-Zero game’s Wii U GamePad screen.
The other six games included in Nintendo Land are currently unknown, but judging from the icons shown at Nintendo’s events, it looks like the six remaining games will include Pikmin, Metroid, Birdo, Yoshi, Mario, and Balloon Fight.
Nintendo Land is slated for a launch release on Wii U, which is coming this holiday season.