For us, one of the main selling points of the deluxe model of the Wii U was the inclusion of Nintendo Land, a game selling for $60 at launch. While this game is fun, I certainly would have been disappointed if we paid full price for it. On the surface, there are a lot of games (or attractions as they are called), but sadly there is not much variety.
Most of the attractions fall into one of two categories: stay alive while enemies swarm you, or chase your opponent, Pac-Man style. The swarming games include Zelda’s Battle Quest, Ninja Castle, Pikmin Adventure, and Metroid Blast. The chasing games are Mario Chase (I bet you didn’t see that one coming!), Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, and Animal Crossing Sweet Day. The unique games in this bundle comprise of Yoshi’s Fruit Cart, Octopus Dance, Captain Falcon’s Twister Race, Balloon Trip Breeze, and my favorite, Donkey Kong’s Crash Course.
Donkey Kong’s Crash Course is a single player game that primarily uses the Wii U GamePad. The object is to roll your cart through various obstacles by tilting the controller and using the buttons to manipulate objects. If you move too fast or fail to avoid a trap you’ll lose a life.
Octopus Dance is another solo attraction that tries to get your groove on by having you mimic the dance moves of the instructor. Both screens are required for this game and you’ll have to keep track of your left and rights as the pace gets faster and faster. If you do poorly, the octopus will not hesitate to ink you.
Yoshi’s Fruit Cart is a single player game that utilizes both screens. In this game you will see the goal and obstacles on the big screen, but you have to draw that path sans obstacles on the game pad. Can you guide Yoshi safely?
Balloon Trip Breeze is another one of my favorite single player games. The big screen is not required. Your goal is to float along and collect balloons by using the stylus to propel you. Steer clear of obstacles that may eat you or pop your balloons.
Captain Falcon’s Twister Race is a unique solo attraction. While I enjoyed the racing and concept, I did not like being forced to look at the big screen while racing through tunnels. I primarily use the Wii U GamePad's screen for racing and steering, but having to look away in tunnels is counter intuitive in my opinion.
The last single player game is Takamaru’s Ninja Castle. In this game you use the Wii U GamePad’s screen to swipe and throw shurikens at oncoming South Park style ninjas. After you defeat the swarm of ninjas, it will tally up how many you defeated and let live.
The Legend of Zelda Battle Quest can be played solo or with five players. The person using the Wii U GamePad is the archer while the Wii remote users swing their swords to smite their foes. Enemies will come from all directions, so keep an eye on the plains and the skies above.
Pikmin Adventure supports up to five players and the Wii remote users play as Pikmin while the Wii U GamePad portrays Captain Olimar. The goal is to get Olimar to his ship safely, but there are a lot of enemy aliens in the way. I noticed that if the boss manages to eat you, your character will be pooped out momentarily.
Metroid Blast is one of the hardest attractions since it requires the use of the nunchuck to move and the Wii remote to aim at and defeat the enemy aliens. Up to five players can enjoy this game and the Wii U GamePad flies the ship while the others must survive the enemy swarm on the ground.
Luigi’s Ghost Mansion is a multiplayer only game where the Wii U GamePad moves the ghost who has night vision and the ability to see the other four players. The players are armed with flashlights that can hurt the ghost when shined on them. If the flashlight is not pointed in the right direction, they cannot see the ghost but the Wii remote will rumble as it draws near.
In Animal Crossing Sweet Day the Wii U GamePad guards the candy by controlling the gatekeepers while the Wii remote players try to bring the candy to their goal. This game has a minimum of two players with a maximum of five.
Last, but not least, is Mario Chase where the Wii U GamePad plays as Mario while the Wii remotes control Toads. Can they work together to catch him? Again, this is a multiplayer-only game that can support up to five players.
It’s no surprise that these attractions show off the many features of the new Wii U GamePad. Some of the games utilize the touch screen and stylus while others rely on the buttons or microphone for interaction. Many of the games can be played without the need for a big screen; I honestly wish that was an option for all of them.
Graphically, this game is very colorful and similar to the Mii-based games found on the Wii, only in high-definition. The visuals won’t blow you away but do have a tendency to attract kids. When you participate in the attractions you'll earn coins to unlock new park decorations and music, which is performed through a Peggle-like variant. The player drops balls while aiming at targets, and some pegs can be destroyed to aid in this task.
The unlockable soundtracks are the same from the attractions that you’ll play. The sound effects are true to their roots and fans of the series’ will feel right at home here.
Another thing that hasn't changed is the family friendliness we've come to expect from Nintendo. Even T games like Metroid are toned down for Nintendo Land. Yes you will blast away enemies, but it’s not bloody or gory whatsoever. When you start using MIi verse on the Wii U, you will attract visitors to your theme park. Along with their Miis, you will get their messages and doodles praising and bashing this game.
While Nintendo Land is fun, I don’t think it will have the staying power of Wii Sports. In our house it has already been eclipsed by New Super Mario Bros. U. If you’re considering this game for your library, I would recommend waiting for a sale or buying it used instead of paying $60. Better yet, just buy the Deluxe version of the Wii U and enjoy the extra memory along with Nintendo Land.