E3 2012: Nintendo Land hands-on
If Nintendo’s section of E3 was an example of what their theme park would be, then every attraction, tour, booth and game would be hosted by a good looking girl in a short skirt. It was while passing through that one of these girls approached me with a small disc advertising Nintendo Land, their latest scheme to get people to play little party games with their Miis. There was subtle genius to the disc: it had a spot for each mini-game that was available to try. Play a game, receive a button. You can’t just play one game and receive one button. It was obvious that if I was going to try it, I had to collect them all. “Clever girl,” I exclaimed. And then I made my way towards the closest of the Nintendo Land booths.
The game itself is a collection of mini-games related to various Nintendo themes. In the Animal Crossing game, the objective for four of the players (those holding the Wii remotes) is to gobble up 50 pieces of candy amongst the lot of ’em. The fifth player holding the tablet controls the guards, one brandishing a fork, the other a butter knife. That person’s goal is to tackle any of the animals after his candy. If there’s anything that the Nintendo representatives stressed, it’s that teamwork is required to win against the guards. The game demands it, as quite a few candy trees can only be accessed with multiple people.
Luigi’s Ghost Mansion is a similar affair. In this one four people search out the ghost with the intent of shining their light on it long enough to deplete it’s health to zero. The ghost, played on the tablet, seeks out the other players, grabs them, drags them off and knocks them out. There’s something sinister about playing as the ghost that I liked. It’s that kind of gleeful evil that made that experience my favorite of all the Nintendo Land games. I pride myself in my ability to take down a small group of gaming journalists in less than twenty seconds.
Next up was Zelda. This one was the last of the multi-player games on display, and was the only one of the three that had all players acting cooperatively. Three people play this one. Two hold Wii remotes and slash at enemies as they automatically walk forward. The third, with the tablet, uses a bow and arrow to defeat distant foes. Once again, only by working together can you expect to succeed.
Takamura’s Castle was the first of the two single-player games. In this game ninjas seek to dice you up, slice you up, or merely pop out from behind a nearby tree before returning to hiding. It is your job to fling ninja stars at them, utilizing the touch screen of the tablet. Aim the tablet horizontally towards the television and swipe across to fling the ninja star. It makes for a neat use of the peripheral.
As for the Donkey Kong mini-game, the idea of it is you must lead a strange contraption down and around a maze of girders towards the end goal of saving the Princess. To move you tilt the tablet in the direction you want to go, and the more you tilt the faster you go. Raise and lower platforms with the R and L triggers. Spin levers with the analog sticks. When compared to the other games, where you only had two buttons at most, this one was fairly complicated. I don’t think I saw a single person finish the level they had to try.
On one hand there was plenty of fun to be had out of this plethora of mini-games, without even mentioning the ones that weren’t shown. On the other hand this almost feels like the kind of thing you’ll find bundled with something. It’s fun, but I just don’t know if it’s substantial enough to market itself as a full release.