The lights are on
When Nintendo packed in Wii Sports for the previous console's launch, they enabled gamers young or old, casual or hardcore, to pick up the new remote controller and immediately get acquainted with the motion control technology. The best part about Wii Sports was that it was fun for virtually EVERYONE. Six years later, Nintendo releases the Wii U and includes this title with the Deluxe set.
Intended as a franchise-infused mini-game collection to introduce gamers to the GamePad's features, Nintendo Land is certainly fun while it lasts. Unfortunately, unlike the "let's keep going!" attitude that most gamers catch after a few rounds of simplistic bowling, Nintendo Land's fun factor wears out surprisingly quick.
As the title aptly suggests, Nintendo Land is a virtual theme park with twelve experiences in the form of attractions based on Nintendo properties such as Mario, Donkey Kong, Metroid and Pikmin. Six of the games can be played by only one person, three are intended for one-to-five players, and the last three are intended only for two or more players. Aside from the GamePad players can use Wii Remote Plus and nunchucks.
The attractions all have great ideas, but most of them don't feel completely realized. I almost want to say some of them feel uninspired, such as Yoshi's Fruit Cart which tasks the player with tracing a line on the GamePad to have Yoshi follow along on the TV, which unlike the GamePad displays the locations of fruit and items. It's a cool concept, but if you don't lose multiple times and complete it, I can almost guarantee you'll be saying "That's it?" instead of feeling like you accomplished something.
That's not to say that the game doesn't have brilliant moments. For instance, if there was one of these attractions I wish were available as a separate downloadable title it would have to be Donkey Kong's Crash Course. Okay, I'll admit it's my favorite on the disc. In Crash Course, the goal is to tilt the GamePad through a Plinko-style maze that incorporates sounds and visuals from classic Donkey Kong. As you make your way through, you'll eventually have to tap buttons, rotate analog sticks and even blow into the mic in order to complete the obstacle course! It offers a very unique challenge, and it's quite a challenge at that!
On the multiplayer side of things, I really enjoyed the co-op Pikmin Adventure, where the one with the GamePad is Captain Olimar, while the others are Pikmin. The goal is to clear each stage, with Olimar tossing his Pikmin and the other players attacking enemies and assisting. I admit I spent more time playing by myself than with others, but it's still a fun experience.
The rest of the offerings come off as more of a set of glorified tech demos than anything else. An Octopus game based on the old Game and Watch handheld is a glaring example of this: All that's involved is matching your analog prompts with what the computer character does, sort of like PaRappa The Rapper without the cheesy lyrics. It's simple fun at first, but becomes tedious way too quickly.
What makes the multiplayer component of the game even worse is the Wii Remote Plus/MotionPlus requirement. I realize that it's been a while since MotionPlus was released, but much like my own situation I imagine not everyone has them quite yet. I personally only owned MotionPlus for Wii Sports Resort and Skyward Sword, so in my case I'll have to invest in a couple Wii Remote Plus in order to get more friends in on this. I know it's trivial, but it still annoys me.
In short, Nintendo Land is a solid recommendation if you're a family with a shiny new Wii U and you've got the accessories and patience for these mini-games. However, if you're more of a gamer's gamer, a bit more hardcore, or if you play by yourself more often than with others, then perhaps play it with your new Deluxe set but you'll find yourself wanting a deeper, richer experience.
Nintendo Land is fun while it lasts, but you'll wanna go home quick.