Nintendo Land is perhaps the most demonstrative example of the Wii U’s asymmetric gameplay, as it uses the Wii U’s GamePad to provide hugely varied interactions dependent on whether you’re on the GamePad or playing with the traditional Wii controllers.
An amusement park full of party and solo experiences, Nintendo Land is split over 12 mini-games, each of which is derived from a classic Nintendo franchise. And each is geared towards the casual and core gamer alike, tutorials are offered to those that need tuition, while experienced players are offered the chance to look after their less certain companions.
The best mini-games on offer are inspired by Pikmin, The Legend of Zelda and Metroid in ‘Pikmin Adventure’, ‘Zelda Battle Quest’ and ‘Metroid Blast’ respectively. Each can carry as many as five players, and each places the GamePad user in a complimentary role to the those using the Wiimote.
Take ‘Pikmin Adventure’ for example where the GamePad player becomes series stalwart Captain Olimar and the other players his Pikmin. The familiar gameplay follows – smashing scenery, levelling up by drinking nectar and bashing monsters – but the GamePad operator direct proceedings. A blast of Olimar’s whistle pulling the Pikmin back to him, thereby enabling him to look after his charges (or else simply letting you annoy your friends).
Similarly, fighting the nefarious Space Pirates in ‘Metroid Blast’ requires to GamePad user to provide air support via Samus’ ship as Wiimote users play as ground troops. Another way for an experienced player to lend extra expertise to the war effort until the newcomers find their feet.
The tables are reversed somewhat in ‘Mario Chase’, a simple game of tag which regularly ends with players in stitches. Here the GamePad player assumes the role of Mario and must simply avoid being tagged by pursuing Toads.
To help him, Mario has a map displaying locations of his pursuers (a luxury the Toads don’t share) and ten seconds of grace. While the Toads have a counter displaying their proximity to Mario and strength in numbers. Luckily for the each of the three mazes is broken up into yellow, blue, red and green prompting screams of ‘Blue, blue… No, wait, red!’
It’s a uncomplicated premise given new life by the Wii U’s tech, a trick repeated through all the Nintendo Land minis, with only the F-Zero inspired ‘Captain Falcon’s Twister Race’ and ‘Octopus Dance’ proving misfires.
Above all, Nintendo Land is essential if only to create an easy way to show why you’ve just spent £300 on a console to the uninitiated. And it’s addictiveness and ease of use should make believers out of most.
Format: Wii U
Price: £49.99 (free with Wii U Premium Pack)