SDCC12 XTRA: Hands On the Wii U's 'NintendoLand'

SDCC12 XTRA: Hands On the Wii U’s ‘NintendoLand’

At Comic Con, The Flickcast team got to finally get our hands on the Wii U and Nintendo’s minigame packed NintendoLand. Like we talked about in our E3 coverage, NintendoLand will feature a collection of mini games inspired by Nintendo franchises, past and present. In total, NintendoLand will contain 12 mini games with half of them already announced and five were playable for us in the Nintendo lounge at SDCC.

First we got to try out Animal Crossing: Sweet Day. Inspired by the stuffed animal-like art design of Animal Crossing, this mini game puts three players on a map where they must collect candies that are placed in various locations, sometimes requiring multiple players to stand on a location together to release the candies. The more candies the players collect, the fatter their heads get and the slower they move. At the same time, they are being pursued by a fourth player who is controlling two guards using the Wii U controller, independently controlling each guard with the different analog sticks and using the controller’s screen.

Communication is key between the players in their hunt for the candy as they need to warn each other about oncoming threats and gather at certain locations to unleash the larger stashes of candy. The player using the Wii U controller gets to really have the most fun though as they get to chase and troll the other players by using pincher style attacks to corner them.

Similar in style is Luigi’s Ghost Mansion. In this game, one player controls a ghost using the Wii U controller and can move freely around the map as it tries to sneak up on players and drain them of their life force. The player’s only offense is their flashlights which burn away at the ghost and feeling their Wii-mote shake when the ghost is near them. Again, communication is necessary as players separated across the map can tell their comrades which section they feel the ghost is near. Players can revive teammates using their flashlights but this leaves them open to attack from behind from the ghost. Whichever side fully knocks the other out first is the victor.

The least known of the properties used in NintendoLand is Takamaru’s Ninja Castle. Here, players aim the Wii U controller at the screen and swipe their fingers across it to launch ninja stars at opponents. This shooting gallery style game does an alright job of showing off a different use of the Wii U controller but doesn’t really grab players in any exciting way, keeping it with an incredibly casual feel.

The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest also came up with a unique use of the Wii U controller. While two players are using their Wii-motes to swipe at enemies with swords, a third uses the screen to target on-screen enemies and shoot with a bow and arrow. The only negative to this shooter style combat is it puts all three players on rails. This shooting gallery begins to wear out its welcome fast as all players share one health bar and one poor player can quickly spell doom for the rest of the team.

Finally, we got our hands on Donkey Kong’s Crash Course. Designed to look similar to the original Donkey Kong but with high-res graphics and backgrounds, players must tilt the Wii U controller using the accelerometer to determine the speed and direction their little cart must travel. Go too fast and they will slam into a wall. Don’t go fast enough and their back tire will get caught on the edge of ramps and cause the player to topple over. While also a casual experience like the rest of NintendoLand, this one so far feels like it has the most legs to it for competitive gamers. There is an addictive level to the game similar to that found in titles like Temple Run or Angry Birds where players keep heading back to top their previous scores.

Like WiiSports, NintendoLand feels like a over-packaged tech demo. The games, while fun and easy to jump into, lack any true power to hold the audience for extended or repeat gameplay sessions. As many have realized, the Wii’s casual audience has shown to have a short-lived attention span and they didn’t go out and purchase many other games for the system. While the Nintendo vigilant still went out and purchased games like Mario Galaxy or The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword, the vast majority stuck to WiiSports which came as a pack-in to the Wii. If NintendoLand is not included with the Wii U console, it will be very interesting to see how consumers act towards it.