At first glade, I thought that Nintendo Land would be the next Wii Party.  That isn’t a bad thing, but I felt that Wii Party was lacking depth.  Fortunately, my initial interpretation of Nintendo Land was wrong.

Nintendo Land brings several Nintendo franchises to life in the form of various mini-games, called attractions.  Each one is based on a different Nintendo franchise, and the final product will have 12 different attractions. Five of these were available for us to demo at E3.

The first demo was The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest.  The demo was played with three players working together, two using the Wii Remote Plus equipped with swords and the third handling the Wii U GamePad, which gave the ability to use a bow and arrow.

The players with the sword could swing it in any direction, lift their shield to block with B, or charge up their sword (like charging up a Skyward Strike in Skyward Sword) to perform a spin attack.  The player with the bow had free range of movement with the Wii U GamePad. The bow player could also charge up an arrow to shoot.  Aiming was done by physically moving the GamePad around, and reloading was preformed by flicking the GamePad down (similar to arcade shooters).

All the players in this game had their Miis clad in Link attire and had to work as a team to make it through a stage.  The Miis walk on their own predetermined path and it is up to the player to attack incoming enemies.  Additionally, the entire team shared hearts, so if one Mii was hit everyone suffered.

The entire game was all about teamwork.  Some enemies sit high up in buildings so the player with the bow needs to knock them down before the enemy’s arrows hit their allies.  Some enemies were easier to take out with the swords.  There were also a few places where everyone would need to hit orbs at the same time to progress to the next area.  In the end, there was a boss fight.

The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest was fun, and I’ve been told that the final build will support up to five players and include various stages.  Even though it isn’t the most hardcore game, or the definitive Zelda experience, groups of friends will likely have fun battling their way through this attraction in Nintendo Land.

Animal Crossing: Sweet Day pits four players using Wii Remotes against one using the Wii U GamePad.  The objective is for the four players to gather 50 pieces of candy before being tagged, or caught, by the solo player a total of three times for the entire team.

The level we played was a big square filled with houses, trees, bridges and more from the Animal Crossing world.  The players trying to get the candy use the TV screen and have to work as a team.  Much of the candy was stuck up in trees and each tree needed a specific number of characters (1-3) to stand on panels in front of them in order for the candy to drop.  The more candy a player collects the slower they become, and the bigger their character’s head gets. This makes it easier for the solo player to catch them.  As a defense, it is possible for the candy collectors to drop pieces of candy to move faster again.

The solo player uses, and looks at, the Wii U GamePad and actually controls two guards simultaneously.  One guard moves with the left analog stick, the other with the right.  Attacking is controlled by pressing the trigger buttons (left for left guard, right for right guard).  The further apart these guards walk, the more zoomed out the view becomes on the Wii U GamePad, which makes it easier to find and hunt down the three players.

Donkey Kong’s Crash Course is a single player attraction.  In this game the player controls a rolling cart through an obstacle course.  The stage shown looked like it came straight out of the original Donkey Kong arcade game.

This game is controlled by tilting the Wii U GamePad left or right in order to move the cart around the course.  Pressing L or R also changes the way some of the girders move.  Some areas also require the player to rotate the R button in order to move platforms.

Donkey Kong’s Crash Course is one of those games that looks extremely easy but is actually quite hard.  The cart can crash easily if going too fast into objects, or by tipping over.  Precise control is necessary to succeed, and it was quite addictive.  The stage featured multiple checkpoints, and I think we were afforded a total of five lives.

Takamaru’s Ninja Castle was the next attraction and another single player experience.  Those that don’t know who Takamaru is may want to read an old article I did for RipTen HERE to educate yourself.

Takamaru’s Ninja Castle is played with the Wii U GamePad on its side and is a shooting gallery game.  The player can flick a finger over the Wii U GamePad to throw ninja stars at enemy ninjas.  The faster the flick, the faster and further the star will fly.  Aiming is done by moving the Wii U Game Pad around.  Consecutive hits against enemies offer more points, so precision is necessary.  The enemy ninja’s can also attack back, but these projectiles can also be hit with ninja stars to earn the player more points.  It’s possible to die, thus ending the game.  Skilled players that made it to the end of the demo would end up facing a boss.  After that, the player’s final score was displayed on a leader board.

The final attraction shown off at E3 was Luigi’s Ghost Mansion.  This game pits four ghost hunting players against one ghost player.  The ghost hunters use the Wii Remotes, and the ghost player uses the Wii U GamePad.  Action takes place in a top down view of a single-floor mansion.

It is the job of the ghost hunters to shine their light on the ghost to deplete its health.  Just spamming the light isn’t a good strategy, though, since it’s possible to run out of batteries.  The ghost hunters can find more batteries scattered throughout the stage.

The protagonists play by watching the TV screen, but cannot see the ghost player there making it difficult.  To aid the hungers, the Wii Remotes rumble a warning when the ghost comes close.

The player controlling the ghost uses the Wii U GamePad and the built-in screen.  On the GamePad it is possible to see all the players, as well as the ghost they were controlling.  The objective is to sneak up on the ghost hunters and to attack them.  Successfully attacking a human player knocks them down. Putting all four humans on the ground results in a win for the ghost player.

Human ghost hunters can, however, help a teammate after they have been knocked down by shining their light on them.  Additionally, downed allies aren’t completely useless since their Wii Remotes still rumble when the ghost is near, making their communication an important key for their team’s success.

Nintendo also teased another Nintendo Land attraction at the Wii U Hardware Q&A event at E3.  This attraction is inspired by F-Zero and will be a racing game.  I also wonder if the two Wii U demo’s shown at E3 last year, based on Mario and Metroid, are going to end up being Nintendo Land attractions.  The game has also been said to feature multiple stages in each attraction and different difficulties that will be based on the number of people playing.

Nintendo Land surpassed my expectations. Each attraction was remarkably fun and will eventually have multiple stages adding depth to the package.  It’s easy to write off Nintendo Land, but don’t.  Give this game a chance when the Wii U launches, because both the multiplayer and single player experiences were a blast.

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