Nintendo Land: review

We have Pac-Man clones. We have a simplified FPS adventure experience. We have arena based third person shooters. We have a dumbed down 3D racing game. Alongside these are some nice, non-offensive games which would be fine on a tablet, but with the dual screen gimmick thrown in as a way to reach out to the ‘casual’ gamer. All of it works and none of it is broken, but one wonders if any of the respective target groups need it. Surely they have something similar, better and more satisfying elsewhere without the £50 price tag?

Let’s go through some of the highlights included in Nintendo Land.

Mario Chase: A great competitive game. You can have up to four players chasing one player around a large outdoor 3D arena. The player being chased has the gamepad screen and can see both where they are running and an overview of where their opponents are. The other players share the TV and can only see what is immediately in front of them. The arena is split into coloured areas, and the game encourages each of the chasing team to call out where they last saw the player being chased, e.g “he’s in the red sector”. This results in some great social action in the living room. It looks pretty and it’s fun.

Luigi’s Ghost Mansion:

Imagine old fashioned Pac-Man, with greatly improved graphics and you’ll be able to visualise this title. As with Mario Chase, the player with the gamepad can see the whole map, themselves and the other players. The other players share the TV and can only see their own movements. The gamepad player is a ghost and tries to ‘catch’ the other players one by one. In turn they have torches (with batteries which run out quite quickly), with which they try to light up and zap the ghost. They know when they are near a ghost as their Wii remote rumbles. Once the ghost is hit with light it can be seen on the main TV for a few seconds before it vanishes again. As with Mario Chase, it encourages shouting and chatting between the players to catch the player with the gamepad.

Metroid Blast:

This can be played single player or multiplayer, either versus or co-op. We think the co-op mode works best. Whilst presented with cutesie 3D graphics, this is a ‘proper’ title with multiple wave based arenas, where mostly you have to defeat ‘X’ number of enemies or collect ‘Y’ number of tokens before you die. One player can be in a mini-metroid style hovering ship, armed with lasers and rockets. Other players will be on foot armed with a laser. There are upgrades available in the map (quake style). It’s a tough game, the levels look good and if you play through to the end it’s quite a challenge which will keep you going for some time.

Zelda – Battle Quest:

The player with the gamepad controls an archer, whilst players with MotionPlus enabled controllers controls sword-swinging ‘Links’. The game controls your actual movement with you just controlling swinging/blocking/shooting. It’s light, it’s pretty, it’s a stroll in the park, and very child friendly.

Ninja Castle:

Hold the gamepad vertically, pointing in the direction of the TV and slide your finger from the bottom to top of the screen to ‘fire’ a shruiken at enemies on screen. It’s a remote gun shooter essentially, with the fire mechanism based upon you flinging shurikens at the enemy. The controls are remarkably tight, and the speed at which you slide your finger really does translate into the speed and distance of the ammunition flying on the screen. This is a great single player game, and a good time waster. It couldn’t be recreated on a tablet, yet uses tablet style controls. A clever game.

Balloon Trip Breeze:

This looks like a relaxing game, but again proves far more challenging after the initial stages (similar to Ninja Castle). You have to guide a balloon across a 2D map. On the map there are various obstacles to get around. You move the balloon by tapping on the gamepad. The image on the pad is a zoomed in version of that on the TV. Whilst the game is good, the WiiU concept seems to have been ‘forced’ a little for this one.

These are just some of the games in Nintendo Land. There are twelve altogether. Some you will play once and never again (Twister Race we mean you), whilst others will be great family/party games if you have the right family, or right friends.

Whilst we used to play Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort outside of social gatherings to try to improve our scores and times, we haven’t felt the same need with Nintendo Land. Just as a casual title on a tablet might be used to kill ten minutes of downtime, so too Nintendo Land can; but at a high price. Nintendo would be wise to split up these games and sell them for £2 each on the eShop, or the whole compilation for half the current RRP or less.

critical score 6

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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands.

He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person ‘free world’, narrative driven and portable gaming.
He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

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