Wii U Hands On: NintendoLand
Just like its predecessor, the Wii U is pretty complicated to fully understand. For the Wii, Wii Sports did the best job of introducing players to the Wii Remote and all that it can do. NintendoLand hopes to do the same for the Wii U GamePad. In NintendoLand, Nintendo’s biggest franchises come together in an amusement park with twelve attractions, each one showing off something unique about the Wii U GamePad. At the Wii U Experience in New York City, five of the twelve attractions were playable, three of which I got to play first hand. Here are my thoughts on each of the three attractions I played.
Animal Crossing: Sweet Day:
The first NintendoLand attraction I got to play was Animal Crossing: Sweet Day. This is a multiplayer game involving up to five players. The four people playing with Wii Remotes play as an Animal Crossing animal. Their goal is to eat 50 candies. These candies can be found on the ground or by shaking trees. Some trees even require more than one player to shake in order for the candies to fall out. The more candies an animal eats, the bigger its head gets and the slower it moves. If players need to move faster, they can toss out candies with the 1 button. The person on the Wii U GamePad plays as two guards, one being controlled by the left analog stick and the other being controlled by the right analog stick. The fifth player must chase all the animals and capture someone three times to win. This can be the same player three times, three different players, or any combination.
I got to play both perspectives of this attraction. I first started on the Wii Remote collecting candies. The controls were easy and somehow I had managed to stay out of the way of the guards. At the end of that round, the person on the GamePad ended up winning. Then, it was my turn to take the GamePad and play as the guards. Controlling both guards at the same exact time was pretty tricky. It was hard to keep track of both. If I want both my guards at opposite ends of the playing field, I could do it. My camera angle on the GamePad zoomed out as the guards moved in opposite directions. In the end, I was victorious, having captured an animal three times with my opponents having only having around twenty candies left to collect. I had a lot of fun with this attraction. It really shows off how great asymmetrical gameplay is. While four players are doing one thing on the TV, the fifth player is doing something different on the Wii U GamePad and has a different perspective of the game than the other four players. This type of experience is only possible on Wii U.
Luigi’s Ghost Mansion:
Another NintendoLand attraction with asymmetrical competitive multiplayer is Luigi’s Ghost Mansion. The four players on Wii Remotes play as a Mii with a flashlight. Their goal is to shine their flashlight to find a ghost that is running around the play field. The problem is that they cannot see the ghost. The players must rely on lightning flashes which reveal the ghost or they can see the ghost if it attacks a player. The ghost has one hundred health points and each shine of a flashlight does about ten points of damage. You may have already guessed it, the fifth player on the Wii U GamePad is the ghost that is sneaking up on the other four players. Again, I played this attraction from both perspectives.
When playing on the TV with a Wii Remote, I had a lot of fun trying to hunt the ghost. I kept away from it unless I knew where the ghost was going and headed there in a way where I would hope to end up behind the ghost. If a ghost attacks a player, that player is down until another player shines their flashlight on the downed player for about ten seconds. If all four players are down, the ghost wins. Once two people die, it’s very tricky to bring them back, especially because by standing still, you make yourself vulnerable to the ghost. If I knew the people I was playing with better, we could have formed some sort of killer strategy to capture the ghost. Instead, we didn’t cooperate and at the end of the round I played, the ghost ended up winning. Next, I took on the role of the ghost on the Wii U GamePad. At first, being the ghost was tricky. I didn’t realize how smart my opponents were. I slowly learned their strategies and adapted to them. I ended up taking down all four players with only twenty health points taken away. Luigi’s Ghost Mansion is another great game showing off how adding an extra screen can change the way games are played.
The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest:
The final NintendoLand attraction I got to play was The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest. This is a cooperative game rather than a competitive one, so every player has to work together. Three players were able to play this attraction during the demo, but when the final game releases, up to five players will be able to play this attraction together. The players with Wii Remotes are using swords and shields to fight enemies. Wii MotionPlus is used to make sword swinging feel as accurate as it does in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword game. The player using the Wii U GamePad uses a bow and arrow, causing that player to have advantages the other players do not. Your goal is to work together with other players to take down any enemy that comes your way. With this attraction, I only had a chance to play as the archer and not as a swordsman.
The controls for playing as the archer were very straightforward. To aim my bow, I had to move around the GamePad which felt very natural. To put in an arrow and fire, I just pull down the right analog stick and let it go. If I hold it down, it charges the arrow for massive damage. To reload my arrows, I had to hold the GamePad down to the floor. Because I didn’t have a shield, I had to depend on the two swordsmen to keep me safe. Being the only one with a long range weapon, enemies standing at the top of towers were mine to take out. Same goes for triggers high up in the air that had to be activated to bring down bridges and open doors. The three players had six hearts to share. One hit from an enemy takes away one of the hearts. I fought hard with the two players I played with, but we lost three quarters of the way through. I had a lot of fun playing this one. It might have even been my favorite of the NintendoLand attractions I played.
The attractions of NintendoLand really showed off what makes the Wii U interesting. While I think it does what the game was made to do, I can’t help but think of a few issues that might not make NintendoLand as popular as Wii Sports. While I loved both the Animal Crossing and Luigi’s Mansion attractions, I couldn’t help but notice that they look very similar. Not only that, but the same basic concept is the foundation for both games. There are just small changes to each one to make them stand out. I really hope those are the only two games like that. Otherwise, there could be four variants of one concept and that is just unnecessary. The other two attractions, Takamaru’s Ninja Castle and Donkey Kong’s Crash Course are single player experiences that are very different which is a good thing.
I also have plenty of questions concerning replay value, what happens if there are three people for a five player game, and much more. There are so many unanswered questions about NintendoLand, but hopefully we will all find out more in the coming months. The attractions of NintendoLand were some of the best experiences I got to check out during the Wii U Experience event. They gave me a much better idea of what makes the Wii U GamePad special. Be sure to check out NintendoLand when it hits store shelves this Fall alongside the Wii U console. It is unknown whether or not Nintendo will bundle NintendoLand with the Wii U console like they bundled Wii Sports with Wii. We will just have to wait a couple of months to find out.