In a nutshell, Nintendo Land can be described as the WiiU’s version of WiiSports; a game solely designed for showcasing what the WiiU has to offer in terms of new hardware and features. The game consists of a main hub generally divided into three categories: competitive multiplayer, cooperative multiplayer and single player. To be direct and to the point, the single player games are neither Nintendo Land’s nor the WiiU’s strongest selling point. At the end of the day, they mostly feel like gimmick-y minigames which can quickly get boring. These games range from a Ninja star throwing game and a Link swordfighting game (probably the best out of the bunch) to a DS-like Yoshi game, an F-zero racing game and a dancing game (the latter two fight the spot for worst place). The most challenging, however, would probably be the Balloon Trip Breeze game which required players to keep an eye out on both the TV screen and the GamePad almost simultaneously to avoid enemies and other obstacles.
Upon completion of a game, you are rewarded with coins which can be used to play Pachinko, a Japanese version of pinball. Completing levels here unlocks prizes scattered around the Plaza, or the mainhub of the game. These prizes include a Jukebox playing soundtracks from classic Nintendo games and various statues based on items or landmarks from Nintendo games. This serves as the only incentive to play the mini-games alone, although this incentive can be pretty short-lasting.
All is not lost with this game however since the multiplayer is the game’s savior and where it truly shines. As stated above, the multiplayer comes in two different flavors; competitive and cooperative. Each of the the modes comes with around 5 unique games also based on Nintendo franchises such as Pikmin and Luigi’s Mansion. Competitive multiplayer usually pits the player holding the GamePad against those with the WiiMotes. For example, in the Luigi’s Mansion minigame the GamePad player is a ghost and the WiiMote players are ghost hunters armed only with torches and their quick reflexes. The aim of this game is to shine the light on the ghost, invisible on the TV screen, when you sense it is nearby until it’s health depletes before it catches you. This was personally one of the most tense games that actually required some strategy by the WiiMote players (although that still resulted in the ghost’s victory). An example of the cooperative multiplayer is the above mentioned Link swordfighting game. Here, the extra players using the WiiMotes (note: WiiMotionPlus is required here) use a sword to help their fellow GamePad archer defeat waves of enemies.
To sum things up, Nintendo Land fulfills its purpose of giving us a tour of the WiiU’s new features but is certainly not enough to warrant the purchase of the WiiU. The single player falls short and does not deliver an experience lasting longer than an hour or so. However, the multiplayer did offer a couple of hours of name-calling, rivalry and the potential destruction of some friendships with its competitiveness and variety. But can it make up for the lacking single player? I think I’ll have to say yes to that. It’s also a great free marketing strategy by Nintendo to encourage others to get their own WiiU console to host a WiiU contest party. However, keep in mind that the multiplayer is useless unless you own several WiiMotes from a previously owned Wii otherwise, you’ll have to shell out some extra money to buy the extra WiiMotes. If in the future Nintendo decides to make a sequel to this, my only request is to make more engaging single player games and to somehow implement the use of a second GamePad in the multiplayer games.