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Nintendo Land review

It might be a small world, but there's a whole heap to do in it

If Nintendo was being absolutely upfront with us, Nintendo Land would centre on a whiteboard, not a theme park. It would be a messy one, covered with different people's handwriting, scribbled diagrams and the kinds of coffee stains spatter analysts would conclude could only be created by staying up all night and shaking with a physiological cocktail of endorphins and sleep deprivation.

You'd select which games you wanted to play by choosing the words scrawled, with no semblance of order, across the board's surface - words like "hilarious" or "asymmetric" or "robot Bulborb dung". Then the game would represent each idea as they would have been pitched by crazed designers, desperately trying to get across what they mean by constructing rudimentary facsimiles using plastic cups, biros and strips of their own torn clothing.

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Even if none of it looks anything like this, it is certainly how Nintendo Land feels. It's a riotous barrage of ideas presented in no particular order: some don't work, some are so brilliant that we've been thinking about them for weeks now and every single one is a completely unfiltered look at the process of designing games for something as new and different as the Wii U. We love it for that.

Generation Gap

The obvious comparison is Wii Sports. Both have been included as pack-in games with their respective consoles (although less prominently this time around, as Nintendo Land only comes with the Premium Wii U bundle) and both act as an introduction to the new control systems they utilise. But this isn't necessarily the most accurate way of approaching the newer title, and that's entirely down to the atmosphere of wild-eyed experimentation that surrounds it.

Where Wii Sports showed us what Wii would be about by showing exactly how it all worked, Nintendo Land shows us what Wii U will be about by showing us just how many ways it could work. The GamePad's multiple input systems - touchscreen, gyroscope, camera, microphone, familiar controller sticks and buttons and, let's face it, probably a secret oven or something - mean that the now nostalgia-tinged moment of realising, "Oh my god, this controller is a golf club and a tennis racket and a boxing glove!" isn't there, to be replaced by a kind of happy indecision. No one, Nintendo included, has decided a definitive way to use the GamePad yet. We think we prefer it that way.

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Each of the game's 12 games - sorry, attractions - is essentially a showcase for how the console and its new controller can be used differently. On the surface, this boils down to three distinct types of game - three competitive attractions, three team attractions and six solo attractions - but within each one is a new idea, something that tries to show you exactly what's going on inside your new piece of hardware.

Childish Glee

You'll probably have heard most about the competitive attractions, made up of Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, Luigi's Ghost Mansion and Mario Chase. That's because these are the most immediately approachable modes, each drawing in their own way from childhood games of It, Hide and Seek or British Bulldog (physical violence between Miis is surprisingly - and welcomely - widespread in these modes). Any of them can be played with two to five players, one on the GamePad, everyone else acting as a team on Wii Remotes, with any empty spots usually filled by slightly less efficient AI stand-ins.

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8 comments so far...
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  1. Skywardwolf23 Tuesday 27th Nov 2012 at 16:54

    Well hopefully i'll be a getting a prem pack :D

  2. KairiZero Wednesday 28th Nov 2012 at 01:42

    "robot Bulborg dung" - this alone rustled my jimmies to unacceptable levels!

  3. liveswired Wednesday 5th Dec 2012 at 21:31

    Terrible. This should be a freebie with the console - not a premium.

  4. Brawlftw Tuesday 11th Dec 2012 at 21:46

    Terrible. This should be a freebie with the console - not a premium.

    I totally agree, there is nothing to warrant this having a Ł40 price tag. This is nearly as bad as trying to charge full price for Wii Sports.

  5. Johny G Friday 14th Dec 2012 at 12:17

    I was worried the single player mode would be quite poor but it is actually very enjoyable. It is of course better to play with friends but playing solo is still good fun.

  6. olrodlegacy Sunday 30th Dec 2012 at 17:27

    I'll start with the positives: The graphics and MiiVerse integration are great. Now the negatives. Even less longevity than Wii Sports, half the games can't be played alone, the hub gets mind-numbingly boring - it could have been an Isle Delfino-like plaza where intermittent events would happen after achievements in the mini-games so as to give the game a story or anything to keep hardcore gamers interested. I'm lucky I played this before ZombiU because otherwise I'd have spent even less time playing it. Not even close to being worth the price tag.

    I thought Balloon Ride was the best of all the games, and that's worrying. Nobody will play the Octopus game more than once, and the rest were distinctly average.


  7. KH81314 Friday 11th Jan 2013 at 14:48

    Got the deluxe edition and wasn't to excited to play this game. My brother thinks its the best game on the Wii U.

  8. widdlersbrew Monday 4th Feb 2013 at 12:59

    Really? An overpriced mini-game collection gets 90%? Are you really saying Nintendo Land is better than Batman: Arkham City or Mass Effect 3? In fact, they also have deemed Black Ops 2 better than Mass Effect 3. As much as I enjoy the witticisms of the writers at ONM, I fear they may have officially lost all journalistic credibility.

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