Review by super_luigi16

"ALittleBitOfEverythingLand: Some Greatness, Some Goodness, Some Mediocreness"

Nintendoland is to the Wii U as Wii Sports is to the Wii. However, unlike Wii Sports, Nintendoland is not as revolutionary. We're not bringing the game out to the dimension of our home. We've already done that. We're not introducing a second screen. We've already done that. We're not starting a revolution--we've already done that! What the Wii U--and, by extension, its pilot program, NintendoLand--manage to do is meld and polish these features into one console. NintendoLand, for the most part, masterfully executes these not-so-new features in the form of the GamePad. This game functions best if you have a family or group of five that is somewhat familiar with videogames. Groups of two or three disallow you from playing many of the attractions, and larger groups can have people consistently left out.

The Plaza

NintendoLand is not a full-fledged game per se, so much as a conglomeration of smaller games (not necessarily minigames). Each of these games is accessible from The Plaza. This Plaza houses all of the games in a circular arena of sorts where you can walk up to the entryway and start playing. NintendoLand strives very hard to be an attraction--it succeeds. After the first set of tutorials with your guide, Monita, your Plaza fills up with people from all over the world. This is where Miiverse kicks in--each of these foreign Miis will have something to say about one attraction or another, and it breathes life into the Plaza in general. You can also play the coin dropper minigame located at the center tower to unlock more toys to put in your plaza--figurines to liven up your square.

Moreover, much of the Plaza is easily accessible. Using the GamePad, you can simply tap on the icon of the game you want to play, and you'll warp all the way there. On top of that, there's a train that circles your Plaza that allows you to play a bunch of different attractions with a friend. Overall, the Plaza is amazingly lively; it becomes the center of what's happening, and it has all sorts of people playing the games that you're playing right now. While not altogether useful, it does its job well of bringing you to each of the games.

The Great

Animal Crossing: Sweet Day

Animal Crossing: Sweet Day is a competitive multiplayer attraction that works best with four or five players. Basically, the one player with the GamePad is the pair of “guards” (Cooper and Booker, if you're familiar with Animal Crossing) while the other players are candy-collecting animals. The two guards are controlled by each of the analog sticks of the GamePad user, and the guards get the advantage of controlling their vision with the GamePad—the farther the guards are apart from each other, the larger their scope of vision is. The candy collectors get to view a split screen on the TV, and they must work together to gather candies. Most of the candies are on trees that can drop their candy if a sufficient number of players step on the switches in front of the trees--more switches means more candy. Generally, the slight advantage is with the candy-collectors, especially if the single player is not very good at multitasking and multi-processing. However, if the guards are competent, the game can last for a good four to five minutes with loads of sheer adrenaline. Overall, this game is very tactical--especially for the guards as they must manage their guards effectively or get steamrolled by the candy-collectors. Animal Crossing: Sweet Day is quite possibly the best competitive multiplayer attraction out there, barring possibly Mario Chase.

Mario Chase

Speaking of Mario Chase, this attraction is a competitive multiplayer that only does well with four or five players. However, if you do have four or five players who can play this game, it is simply amazing. The player with the GamePad is Mario, and he must outrun the three or four Toads pursuing him in an obstacle course. The Mario has good compensation for his numbers disadvantage--he knows where everything is. The Toads do not. Mario gets a map with the locations of all of the Toads, and a small screen with his immediate surroundings. The Toads only get a screen with a first-person viewpoint and a Mario tracker that states their distance from Mario. This setup basically creates no advantage--if anything, it's an open game for the Toads to win, the Toads to lose, Mario to win, or Mario to lose. For the most part, the Chases can be tame until the Toads discover where Mario is; once they get up near him, the chases are adrenaline-pumping, exhilarating, and exciting. Again, it's anyone's game to take or give up, and this makes Mario Chase a truly great game.

The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest

The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest has two different components: Quest Mode and Time Attack Mode. The former is a cooperative multiplayer mode with the GamePad player taking on the role of archer, and the rest of the players taking on the role of sword combatant. Quest Mode basically places your team, which should usually include three to five players, on an enemy-fraught expedition. Throughout these expeditions, you must slay each enemy that comes at you--generally, these enemies aren't too difficult, though they get to be fittingly tough by the last few quests. Furthermore, there are plenty of obstacles, intricacies, and hidden aspects to each quest. For example, a favorite of the developers of this attraction tends to be the placement of a cluster of explosive barrels next to bunch of enemies; if the archer shoots the bomb, all of the enemies are defeated. Quest Mode also manages to strike perfection with its difficulty. The quests are not easily beaten in one attempt, but they are not impossible to complete with dedicated efforts. The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest is the best cooperative minigame in all of NintendoLand. No exceptions.

Metroid Blast

Though Battle Quest is the best cooperative multiplayer attraction in all of NintendoLand, Metroid Blast isn't far behind. It's exhilarating! One player takes control of a hovercraft while the rest of the players take control of ground combatants. The ground combatants have simpler controls, but the hovercraft's controls are intuitive yet require great skill to master. The hovercraft, in general, is more immune to the combat, though this isn't always the case; certain missions place the hovercraft under extreme duress. Both players function well and are extremely engaging to control. The missions are top-notch, the controls are top-notch, and the gameplay is top-notch; Metroid Blast is simply a blast. Metroid Blast will please any experienced gamer.

Donkey Kong's Crash Course

This attraction is exclusively single-player. Donkey Kong's Crash Course tasks you with clearing an obstacle course that basically moves with the gyro sensor in the GamePad. Your Mii is transformed into a tripod racer, and you must ride along this obstacle course to rescue Pauline; however, your tripod racer is very prone to, um, dying, so you need to keep it right-side-up. You will primarily look at the GamePad as it tells you which buttons are needed to trigger which gates, obstacles, ramps, or trolleys. Furthermore, these obstacles are no joke when you start--some of them require coordination that you have to build with practice. My only qualm with this attraction is how some of these maneuvers are very finicky; for example, at one point, you're supposed to launch yourself using an angled platform, but, even if performed correctly, it can send you to your death. Luckily, there are many checkpoints, and there is a reset button for situations when you are not altogether dead, but the prognosis is bleak (e.g., hanging by one wheel). Crash Course isn't the strongest attraction, but its addictiveness is in part derived from its difficulty and its intuitiveness.

The Good

Yoshi's Fruit Cart

This single-player game primarily relies on the stylus and drawing controls. For those of you that have played Yoshi's Story, this concept should seem familiar: you must ride your Yoshi Cart through a small stage, collecting fruits along the way. This may not seem hard, but you can only draw on the GamePad. Furthermore, fruits, obstacles, and other rewards are not displayed on the GamePad. Hence, you must rely on the background to make it from Point A to Point B. This doesn't make Yoshi's Fruit Cart hard per se--simply time-consuming. You can spend as much time as you want setting up your path. I wish Yoshi's Fruit Cart could be great, but the game is not engaging. It's addictive, sure, but it's overwhelmingly mundane.

Balloon Trip Breeze

Whereas Yoshi's Fruit Cart was mundane, this attraction is more lazy and calming than anything. While that doesn't make Balloon Trip Breeze bad per se (otherwise, it wouldn't be in the “Good” section), it does stop it from reaching the next level. Balloon Trip Breeze is a single-player attraction that also makes you use the stylus, though it tends to be used in a more active way. The objective of this game is to fly your little balloon dude across this course, hitting good objects in the air with your person (balloons, bubbles, etc.), and destroying bad objects with shockwaves induced by the stylus (enemies, bricks, mines, etc.). You use gentle stylus motions to move your person throughout the air as if you were creating a breeze to lift the balloon. Generally, the controls and the levels are smooth. The problem is more so with the ambient environment and what this game attempts to be as compared to what it actually is. While the game tries to be calming and relaxing with regards to the background, the actual gameplay itself is riveting and, at times, slippery and sloppy. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but this game simply does not work.

Octopus Dance

This single-player attraction is basically a rhythm game; how well can you follow the beat? While it is nothing revolutionary in its genre, Octopus is both stupid and entertaining/engaging at the same time—it's stupidly entertaining! Entertainingly stupid! Regardless, Octopus Dance requires you to follow the dance moves of a scuba diver; there are some basic commands like using the sticks to move your arms, shaking to jump, and tilting to lean. These commands graduate to a full-fledged dance with the uptick in beat. Furthermore, the game throws curveballs at you by forcing you to switch between the GamePad and the TV screen for each sub-dance and by inking your screen occasionally. However, Octopus Dance simply does not utilize the GamePad all that well--any control setup with two analog sticks could easily play a pseudo-Octopus Dance. The GamePad was more of an afterthought in this attraction.

Captain Falcon's Twister Race

Captain Falcon's Twister Race is a single-player attraction that primarily relies on holding the GamePad upright and using it as a wheel of sorts. If you've played Mario Kart Wii with the Wii Wheel before, you can probably relate this attraction's control scheme to that setup. However, unlike Mario Kart Wii, the controls for this attraction are simply not good. They are sloppy, slippery, slidey, unresponsive, drifting, and lax. My biggest qualm is that you'll start the race holding the GamePad upright to go staright; by the first checkpoint at the end of Area 4, you'll be holding the GamePad at a 45 degree angle just to keep your Falcon straight. It's ridiculous! For a game that relies on the motion controls, it better have damn good motion controls! Regardless, the track is still decent, and the music is the quintessential Captain Falcon amazing-ness. The controls are, simply put, terrible.

The Mediocre

Luigi's Ghost Mansion

The Ghost Mansion sounds like a good concept. It's a competitive multiplayer attraction where the player with the GamePad dons a ghost costume and the other three to four players take on the roles of ghost catchers. The playing field, various parts of the mansion, is pitch black, so the ghost is invisible, save for when lightning strikes. The other players can only rely on Wiimote vibrations to know if the ghost is near. They must shine their flashlight to damage the ghost—if they get the ghost's health down to 0, or the ghost is unable to catch all of the ghost catchers in five minutes, they win. However, if the ghost can creep up to the catchers and make them faint in under five minutes, he wins. Unfortunately, the latter happens way more often than the former; it is nearly impossible for a group of catchers to outfox a competent ghost. Despite the ability to revive fallen catchers with the flashlight, the catchers will still need massive faults on the part of the ghost to even have a chance. The game is broken.

Takamaru's Ninja Castle

Don't get me wrong, Ninja Castle is a polished single-player game. The defining problem is not its controls, nor its atmosphere. The game itself is simply not good. Ninja Castle asks you to use the GamePad as a ninja star launcher and the TV as your scope. You also have to aim by moving the GamePad; this setup is extremely counterintuitive. Excelling at Ninja Castle is essentially the same thing as excelling at rubbing your belly and patting your head--how well can you multitask? Furthermore, you're overwhelmingly vulnerable to oncoming enemy slaughter as you can only focus on one target and you have absolutely no evasion whatsoever. Overall, Takamaru's Ninja Castle is simply a poorly thought out game.

A Wonderful Party Game

While NintendoLand isn't a thrilling Action game, a strategic RPG, or a catchy rhythm game, it manages to embody a little bit of everything. There is rhythm. There is party. There is action. Most of the attractions are amazing fun, and all of them can be enjoyed to varying extents. While there are some misses, many of these attractions are hits, and some of them are homeruns. Overall, the game is polished. It's good. It's fun. And it can be enjoyed by everyone. NintendoLand is an all-around fun game, and it should be your primary party title for the Wii U, and it outclasses many acclaimed Wii party titles. Buy NintendoLand--either through the Deluxe Bundle or by itself, but you must buy it, or you're truly missing out.

FINAL SCORE - 9/10

The Gameplay
+ Overall, very polished
+ Many truly astounding, engaging games
+ Good variety
+ Entertaining for single-players and multiplayers alike
- Some poor games
- Certain games are far too cartoonish for their own good
- Some sloppy controls

The Music
+ For the most part, catchy
+ Captain Falcon, Octopus Dance, Luigi's Mansion, and Animal Crossing stand out

The Graphics
+ Good HD graphics
+ No hindrances in gameplay
- Plays it a little too safe with certain games

Replayability
+ Stamps increase replayability immensely
+ Wonderful for parties/families


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/04/13

Game Release: Nintendo Land (US, 11/18/12)


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