Review by Ian Abbott
After unboxing a brand new Nintendo Wii U (premium edition) on Christmas morning and feeling a joyous surge of happiness, the last 4 days has seen me in a wall to wall gaming lock down, exploring the Wii U, what it has to offer and getting right under the skin of Nintendo Land; the Wii Sports beater for 2012.
My initial delight was slightly dampened as I powered up the Wii U for the first time and was met with a 1.5 hour patch (and updates for each game that were played for the first time). The necessity of transferring of my data and Miis from the Wii to Wii U (although the cut scene of dozens of Pikmin’s moving data parcels from one place to another was a lot more interesting than a blue progress bar) was cumbersome, needed an external SD card and added another 30 minutes to proceedings.
Nintendo Land offers 12 miniature games (each one proposing an array of unique ways to use the GamePad like swiping a hand lengthways across the screen to zip out Shuriken’s to beat origami ninjas or tilting the whole pad to steer around a sci-fi racing course) that breathe new life into familiar versions of Nintendo stable favourites including: Donkey Kong, Animal Crossing, Luigi, Pikmin, Mario, Metroid and even Zelda. There is a mass of fun to be experienced through the intelligent design, with nods and new twists from Nintendo’s past with 8-bit soundtracks and visual art landscapes of old whilst there is a massively addictive and inventive quality to be had in each of the games. I’ve already spent hours with friends using the GamePad and an original Wiimote across the six single player, three multiplayer co-op and three multiplayer competitive attractions. For those that like a challenge, there are five stamps to be earned from each game and when completed, golden stars adorn each tunnel entrance showcasing a mastery of that mini game but also unlocks more levels and a greater difficulty setting adding many more hours and life to Nintendo Land.
With ten other delightful gaming experiences to be had plus the reward of collecting in game coins to accrue and try your luck at a coin drop puzzle arcade game which in turn rewards theme park owners with figurines and access to original audio cues, Nintendo Land is a riot of happiness and pleasure. Nintendo have also introduced an online Mii community to the Wii U and it’s great to see my Nintendo Land plaza filling up with trinkets and populated with other Miis from around the world. I can see what trophies they’ve collected, what message they leave in their greeting bubble and see their percentage progress through the major games simply by touching their happy faces. Nintendo Land is rammed with fun and displays dozens of neat touches whilst the GamePad and the possibility it affords for future game development and genuine innovation in gameplay control is mind boggling.
With two more games to play (New Super Mario Brothers. U and ZombiU) in the early new year I don’t expect to be turning off the Wii U anytime soon.