Back when Nintendo decided to use “Nintendo Land” as its premier software to demonstrate the Wii U at this year’s E3 many industry watchers were underwhelmed. In fact, I was pretty scathing in my criticism of Nintendo’s decision to concentrate the majority of its time on the game saying that “it would do a fifteen minute presentation of some silly game called ‘Nintendo Land'” if it wanted to turn people off to its brand new system.
Now that I had a chance to play “Nintendo Land” I’ll temper my earlier statement just a tad. The retail price for “Nintendo Land” is $59.99 but Wii U Deluxe Set buyers got the game as part of their package. The premise of the game is simple enough: Nintendo has created a virtual theme park that features some of its most beloved characters as well as some different attractions for players to experience with their customized or preloaded Miis.
Minigames are based on fan favorites such as “Super Mario Bros.”, “The Legend of Zelda”, “F-Zero” and “Metroid” to name a few. There are over twelve minigames to choose from, but depending on the number of players some games will not be available. The “Super Mario Bros.” minigame is strictly multiplayer so single players shouldn’t bother, but the single player games such as the “F-Zero” racing game are fun to play.
The objectives of the minigames all center around the Gamepad. Surprisingly “Nintendo Land” surprisingly makes good use of the Gamepad’s screen. For instance, in the “The Legend of Zelda” minigame you have to use the Gamepad’s screen to look around while the right analog stick is for aiming and shooting. In another minigame, “Donkey Kong: Crash Course” you use the Gamepad to steer your barrel kart through an obstacle course. Playing with the Gamepad is surprisingly fun and it would be hard to want to play “Nintendo Land” with a Wii Remote. This likely means that some players are going to be fighting over who gets the Gamepad and who takes Wii Remote.
Playing the minigames will earn you Nintendo Land Coins which can then be used to play a pachinko minigame to win a variety of upgrades to your theme park. As your theme park grows preloaded and user created Miis will begin to visit your park. Think of this feature as “Sim City” light, heavy on the light.
Graphically and musically the game is really nothing to write home about. The graphics are about what you would expect for a first generation title that is included with a system for free. There are familiar tunes that people will recognize such as the “Super Mario Bros” and “Legend of Zelda” themes but for the most part “Nintendo Land’s” music and sounds are grating on the ears.
So is “Nintendo Land” going to turn away buyers from the Wii U? I would hope not because as I mentioned in my review of the Wii U the console is an impressive piece of hardware. That being said, “Nintendo Land” is fun for a few hours but I can’t see anyone really investing a lot of time in the game to make their theme park look the best so that Miis from around the virtual world to come and visit. “Nintendo Land” can be fun with more people but even after a while boredom will quickly set in. Including the game with the Wii U Deluxe Set was a wise move on Nintendo’s part but for Basic Set owners I wouldn’t be surprised if they decided to use their $59.99 to buy another game.