By: Lara Murray, staff writer
ESRB Rating: E
Released: November 2012
Available on the Wii U
Nintendo Land masquerades as an amusement park filled where Nintendo-inspired mini-games, know as “attractions”, are available to the player. Each attraction is a spin on the capabilities of the Wii U’s gamepad, demonstrating how it changes the way we play games. Playing attractions earn coins, which in turn are used in a pachinko game (think Plinko from The Price Is Right) to win up to 300 decorations that adorn the park. If sharing data over the Internet is enabled, then you will find other Miis (Wii U avatars) from other players around the world walking around your park.
There are a total of twelve attractions, and they range from one player to multiplayer where up to five people can jump in on the action or participate in an attraction tour, which is a tournament style of play. Attractions also range in difficulty and skill level, each spinning their own interpretation on how to engage the gamepad to play the attraction.
Family Gaming Assessment:
Nintendo prides itself as family-oriented, so it should be no surprise that much of the game play is also family safe. Many attractions have cute aesthetics and are absent of graphic gore and violence. For examples, Takamaru’s Ninja Castle calls for players to aim paper ninja stars at origami ninjas hidden inside a diorama, while The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest brings players into a patchwork landscape to fight against ragdoll goblins.
Some attractions may need explanation for young players. One attraction, Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, may be spooky for younger children afraid of ghosts, despite how goofy the ghost looks. Another attraction, Metriod Blast, casts players as sci-fi bounty hunters defending their base by firing lasers at space insects. Younger or easily frightened children may be better suited to avoid these games until they can grasp the fantasy element like older children and teenagers will.
Attractions are labeled as one of three categories: solo, team, and competition. As implied by their names, some of the attractions are more group-oriented than, say, the solo attractions which only one player can actively play at a time. Team attractions require full cooperation from all players to advance, while competition attractions pit one player against the others with winner-take-all stakes. As you progress in attractions, additional levels are added and the challenge rating increases gradually, but it’s always available to replay easier levels.
Each attraction involves manipulating the features of the Wii U’s gamepad, so in some attraction the gamepad’s screen is observed like a map or a first-person view unavailable from the third-party view displayed on the television, while other attractions require direct interaction by drawing a path or creating strokes on the gamepad’s screen to direct movement. Multiplayer attractions require at least standard Wii remotes for additional players, with some attractions needing the more expensive Motion+ Wii Remotes to play.
Multiplayer attractions are very easy to pick up for the players with Wii remotes. Usage of the gamepad can be more difficult in some attraction than in others, such as in Animal Crossing: Sweet Day where the two analog sticks control separate characters, or in Metroid Blast where the player has to control a vehicle. A nice feature, though, is that Nintendo Land recognizes when there is a new player based on the user’s Mii, and will go over a tutorial on how the attraction plays. Replaying the tutorials is just a button away if there’s ever a need for a refresher.
Nintendo Land is one of the better exclusives available for the Wii U. Lots of replay value is hidden within the game, but the game is at its best when four to five players can monopolize the multi-player attractions, and in order to do that, each player needs their own Wii remote that retails for ~$30 apiece. Nintendo Land is best suited for larger families or an active house with frequent guests over that likely have or can bring over the extra remotes needed to fully enjoy the game, whereas small families may want to wait for a drop in price before picking Nintendo Land up.