Posted on June 18, 2012 AT 03:00pm
The last thing shown during Nintendo’s Press Conference was something that would bring the core and casual gamers alike together in one fun place: Nintendo Land. Composed of twelve mini-games that can be played by up to five people Nintendo Land features all the classic Nintendo characters under one roof in different styles of gameplay. At E3 I was able to go head-to-head with other players on the five mini-games being shown on the floor.
The first mini-game to be shown was The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, a rail-influenced game where up to four players travel on a Link-like quest to vanquish the village of boss hogs and other evil spirits. Three players will use the Wiimote as their swords, which will be used to slice opposing forces and block on-going attacks. The fourth player, on the other hand, will use the Gamepad as a bow and arrow system to take out enemies too high up for the swordsmen to reach. There is a catch, though: all four players share the same lifeline, so if one dies it’s game over. Players will also collect coins and hearts throughout the level, though the usage for the coins wasn’t revealed during the demo.
The three of us with Wiimotes, not knowing exactly what the heck to do, simply swung away like crazy, hitting everything and anyone we could to move on towards the next section of the quest. The one on the Gamepad, meanwhile, seemed to be taking his time as he looked around for enemies to aim at properly and fire. Unlike us sword carriers the one with the Gamepad had to worry about when they used their firepower, as they have to reload once in awhile if they ran out of arrows. While I wasn’t able to try out the bow-and-arrow setup Battle Quest is looking to be a lot of fun.
Next up on the agenda was Donkey Kong’s Crash Course. Here one player travels through a mine cart-like level as they try to reach Donkey Kong to save the princess. The level was set up to look like the original Donkey Kong arcade game, 8-bit giant ape and all. In order to maneuver through the level you will have to tilt your Gamepad left or right to control the speed of the mine cart. On occasion there will be times when you’ll have to activate platforms, elevators, and loops in order to reach specific areas.
Precision is the key in Crash Course. You cannot go too fast or else you’ll crash, and you can’t go too slow otherwise you’ll never reach the bigger jumps. The good news is there are checkpoints in the level, so no worries if you crash halfway through the level. It was here where I noticed how the Gamepad’s motion sensors worked. Turning it ever-so slightly left or right caused the cart to maneuver slowly along the track, whereas a quick jolt in either direction had my character flying swiftly across the screen, sometimes flipping over and crashing. I managed to get to the middle of the course before my lives were all spent, but in the end Donkey Kong’s Crash Course seems promising. Hopefully there will be more than one level in this mini-game to play in the full version.
Game number three was Luigi’s Ghost Mansion. Here four players with Wiimotes travel through a maze in order to capture a ghost (controlled by a fifth player using the Gamepad). Those watching on the TV screen cannot see where the ghost is, but the one holding the Gamepad can see all of the level. Players will know if the ghost is nearby if their Wiimote starts vibrating. Those wanting to catch the ghost need to be careful that the ghost does not capture them, for if he gets all four players he wins. Those knocked out by the ghost will be able to revive their teammates, but they need to be careful not to be captured themselves.
Players hold their Wiimotes sideways in order to maneuver through the mansion maze, clicking down on the A-button to keep their flashlights on. Power must be conserved, though, as the batteries can be drained if you use them too long. If the ghost is seen, players simply flash their lights at the ghost, which will start draining it of its health. Playing as the ghost on the Gamepad will have you easily moving through the levels and trying to capture the other players, but from time-to-time lightning will flash along the screen to reveal your current position.
Luigi’s Ghost Mansion was very reminiscent of last year’s Chase Mii, back when the WiiU was first announced. The only difference here is that, unlike Chase Mii, the one controlling the Gamepad can capture the other players (whereas the former game was more akin to a “run-for-your-life” sort of play-through). Playing with the Wiimote I was able to capture the ghost two out of the three times with my fellow gamers. When going hands-on with the Gamepad I had been defeated with only seconds left to the game. I can imagine Luigi’s Ghost Mansion being very popular at future parties and shindigs, as it will surely be a hit amongst those both playing and watching.
Up next on the agenda was a mini-game based on a title that was never released in America: Takamura’s Ninja Castle. Taking place in an origami-made world players use their Gamepad to throw ninja stars at tiny ninjas. Sometimes the ninjas will throw stars of their own at you, being more akin to bombs and other weapons later on. Depending on the color of the ninja will also depend on how many stars to use to take them down.
If one remembers the tech trailer when WiiU was first announced there was a clip of a person brushing the Gamepad screen to throw ninja stars. This mini-game is just that, as a crosshair on the screen shows where your controller is currently positioned as to where you are throwing the weapons. The ninjas come out in small droves, and if you don’t hit them right away, they attack back with their own weapons of sort. If they do you can deflect their attacks by simply chucking a star right at their stars or bombs. At the end of the demo one final ninja appeared to do a sword battle, whom can be defeated when he gets close to striking range on your part.
The origami look in Takamura’s Ninja Castle is very cool, as it does look like it was folded together by someone. The aiming system with the Gamepad felt well-done, although I can picture people’s arms getting tired holding it with one hand while flicking the screen with another. Hopefully somewhere down the line the option of doing this game two-player style will be realized (perhaps in an update), but for now we know that all games coming out at launch for the WiiU will be only one Gamepad titles. Still here’s hoping this specific title will open up interest to bringing this series outside of Japan.
The final game on the Nintendo Land floor was Animal Crossing: Sweet Day. Somewhat similar to Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, the game will have four players on Wiimotes collecting a specific amount of candy before they get attacked by two guards (controlled by one person on the Gamepad). The catch is the more candy you pick up, the bigger your head gets, making it harder for you to run away from the guards. You can drop the candy in order to run away from them easier, but you’ll still need to find a way to balance out the amount of candy each of the four players collects. If the guards get the players three times, the game is over.
Like Luigi’s Ghost Mansion you hold the Wiimote sideways in order to run around and collect the candies. The 2 button is used to pick up the candy, and the 1 button spits it out. It’s using the Gamepad when gameplay gets complicated, as you have to control two guards with the two control sticks at the same time. The Nintendo booth babe had even told me that she had problems playing it the first few times, but assured me that you get used to it soon after. Still seeing the other people’s reactions during the play-through showed the most important element in Nintendo Land was in full effect: to have tons of fun with friends in the same room with you.
From what I can see so far from these five mini-games Nintendo Land is looking to be one joyful title that will bring friends and families alike together for a silly good time. While there is little known about what the other seven mini-games will be (other than there is one F-Zero one) there is much promise to be found in what will be known as one of the key games coming out for the WiiU. I had asked if, like Wii Sports, that Nintendo Land was to be bundled with the WiiU, but they didn’t have an answer for me. Still keep your eyes peeled for more info on Nintendo Land as the months go by. Maybe if the game is popular enough, a real Nintendo Land theme park will be built, possibly in Japan.
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