It's kinda strange going back to play Nintendoland, it's simultaneously better and worse than you remember. Playing it again unearths even more layers of depth that I didn't think existed and yet also serves to highlight the superficial limitations imposed upon the design by Nintendo - to show off the controller or just be bloody awkward.

Nintendoland as a whole experience single player + multiplayer is baseline good. If you're a single player gamer the game is a fleeting distraction most of the time. After a certain amount of time I would not even enjoy continuing to play this game if it weren't for one thing: trophies.

Remember the addiction you got in Smash Bros Melee collecting these things? In Nintendo Land they take it to the next level, the plaza slowly comes alive the more you play. You earn coins when you play the games in Nintendoland and the better you do, the more coins you get. Then you play this mini-game like a slot machine to unlock these trophies. As you play your plaza becomes littered with these things. If you don't or only lightly play the game you may miss this feature. Now I have unlocked a fair amount - the plaza has become a pretty magical place, littered with Nintendo paraphernalia.

You also get a giant Jukebox with dozens of tracks and a giant button where you can flip between different times of day and evening - the music also changes. This place bustles with people (Miis) and each one has something to say for himself, messages sucked out from Miiverse. It's very interesting to see this empty lifeless space become suddenly populated and busy. With the music, art style and everything it reaches an almost.... I strain to say this as it's something quite unquantifiable.... magical quality. You don't generally get this feeling with HD games, not on PC, Xbox or Playstation and before you argue against this I mean - this Nintendoness, this odd, strange, quirky,  unquantifiable juxtaposition against the norm.

Wandering around the plaza at night with the jazzy tones and bustling hub you start to appreciate what Nintendo is going to do, what they want to be in HD. They are a stable of brightly coloured, happy cartoon characters of quality and they bring a colourful injection of "gaming" fun, not cinematic action movie fun, actual games like they used to be games. It's somewhat rare and commendable, if slightly backwards and odd in this day and age. But personally I appreciate the contrast and like both styles of game. It's a shame there aren't many good screens or video of the plaza, it can look fantastic on all cylinders. And returning to the game, I think the graphics are actually of good quality, better than Assasins Creed 3, Lego City or, controversionally - Arkham City, technically. I am a bit of a texture inspector so I tend to look up close which can reveal the actual texture quality which can hold up at a distance in most games but fall apart up close. I personally like clean and colourful, with crisp edges and a rock solid framerate. The models in Nintendoland are the very definition of crisp and clean up close and the 3 stage lighting and shadowing (via the floors' green button) seems somewhat superior to lighting I have seen in most 360 games -  a bit more natural, less bloomy.

Now about the game itself, ahhhhh, I understand Nintendo want to push the U pad as this indispensible device but we all like options and Nintendoland removes them. In the Metroid game for instance using the pad you have to use both sticks and gyro aiming, it gives you more control then before but having 3 inputs is like trying to use 3 analog sticks at the same time and it's too much and can be frustrating. Also forcing you to look at the screen pad output when they haven't calibrated the picture output well enough like say MSF or Trine 2 can leave you frustrated. A little more normality would help, dual stick controls or one stick movement, gyro aiming and looking at the main tv would be better. Instead it's a weird juggling act that is okay when you are into it but a frustration when you return to it. There are onfoot sections where you use the wii remote like any other FPS only.... you have to hold a button to turn your viewpoint - frankly bewilderingly awkward and stunted.

Then there is the multiplayer, unplayable in single player or online, it's a significant and often raucously fun mode that will have you and some friends/family glued to it and laughing heartily.

Only as a single player it's completely omitted from your repetoire. What a damned shame, even more annoying when they could have worked some single player modes into it or made an online mode to enjoy it with. The three games here are three of the best but unless you have other people to locally play with, you will never experience it.

Asymmetrical multiplayer is word bandied about a lot in early Wii U previews, here you can actually experience it and see what it adds to gaming and it's a lot. Instead of every man for himself the gamepad user is often on his own and often has an advantage - this leads to some delightful gang mentality "Get him! No, he's gone behind the blue block, run there I will get the other side" teamworking - while the gamepad user in smug satisfaction with this own view, cackles delightfully at the scrambling fools trying to chase/hunt him down.

Other games have quirks too, like the Zelda game, aiming with gyros is fine but pulling back on the stick and releasing to fire an arrow? It's okay the first few times but after a few levels and shooting 50+ enemies you just want to PRESS A BUTTON to do this. And why not let us use the wii remote to aim via IR and look at the fabulous TV screen rather than the lower quality gamepad screen? They've also made the game on rails, when you could have exactly the same environments, only free roaming and have a better combat Zelda experience.

Pikmin, one of the best single player games makes you look at the gamepad screen to play as olimar with the touchscreen, but you can play as a pikmin on the tv with wii remote... but not as Olimar. Strange as the Wii U game actually wants you to use IR and the HDTV because it makes sense.

F-Zero game is a waste, too chibi and cute, lacking in control and speed - who actually wants to tilt to steer and have no throttle control?

Then there are games like Yoshi's Fruit Kart which some people may have overlooked - I did but started playing it recently and found untold layers of depth. There is fine art to it, judging the backgrounds and angle, the amount of fuel you use which is carried over to the next level - the warp games. Or the rotation direction and speed of the moving fruit, the movement patterns. Or how Yoshi refuels a little each time he eats, making you time everything out right. There are red chilli to get multiple items but only if you pick the right angle and hit it at the right time. And then later levels throw bees at you.

I would like to play Nintendoland more but the deliberate limitations in place like the controls in Metroid, the stick firing in Zelda, the non-olimar on HDTV of Pikmin frustrate me. The Ninja game is fun, it is but is also exhausting with the repeated heft of flinging those star out. I cannot do the DK junction game, not even the first level, I crash and burn but it is defintely a good game. The only complete waste of space is the dancing game.

All of this is just to serve one purpose: collect moar trophies and make the plaza the magical place it can be. But it's a frustrating half/done and deliberately limited experience trying to do so. Sometimes Nintendo, different isn't always better. A little conventionality goes a long way - Nintendoland could have been AAA but instead is AzF.

Posted by gamingeek Mon, 03 Jun 2013 12:07:55 (comments: 27)
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Mon, 03 Jun 2013 12:30:38
Forgot to mention the Balloon trip game, mainly because there is nothing wrong with it and it does show off some unique ways you can play the Wii U. Like a tablet or touch screen game but on the big screen with intuitive controls. Ace little mini-game. Would love a big screen Soul Bubbles.

It's almost impossible to find a good quality video of the plaza, even in 720p these videos look ass-y to me.

This is an overview^

This is all 200 trophies in a 42 minute video^

Tue, 04 Jun 2013 22:04:07
As a predominantly single-player gamer I will probably avoid this but some of it looks sort of fun
Wed, 05 Jun 2013 03:27:05

It's ridiculous that this does not have online multiplayer.

Wed, 05 Jun 2013 08:09:17
I think the game is fantastic but it needed online. Zelda with wiimote is the best.
Wed, 05 Jun 2013 10:55:19
I wish you could aim with the wii remote, or just shoot arrows with a button.

They compromised the controls/views in a big way with this game just to show off the features of the pad. I think it's sad because what could have been an 8.7 - 9.0 game ends up as a 7.2 - 7.5 in single player at least.

When a good buddy of mine showed up, the multiplayer was an absolute blast. And then he left and I could never play it again. Sometimes when I want to see what it was like I boot it up with a wii remote and just run about miserably with no one to run/catch/scare.
Sun, 09 Jun 2013 21:13:04

I think I would only be tempted to get this if it was put in a nice (and nicely priced) bundle like it will be in Japan.

Sun, 09 Jun 2013 21:18:11
Foolz said:

It's ridiculous that this does not have online multiplayer.

When they make the inevitable Nintendoland Resort they will add it.

Sun, 09 Jun 2013 21:19:19

I just unlocked some more stuff, played more Pikmin and Yoshi kart, even got further in DK game. You know if you put the hours in and actually try and master the games you'll find a lot of depth and content here. And plaza is your reward, it becomes more magical the more you unlock. I think it's actually a pretty good game with a lot of quirky stuff - but you have to persevere with it. Your initial reaction is to try the good games - play 2 minutes of the 'crap' games then deem them crap. But if you try more it reveals hidden depth. I'm actually quite enjoying it now.

Sun, 09 Jun 2013 21:36:33
gamingeek said:

I just unlocked some more stuff, played more Pikmin and Yoshi kart, even got further in DK game. You know if you put the hours in and actually try and master the games you'll find a lot of depth and content here. And plaza is your reward, it becomes more magical the more you unlock. I think it's actually a pretty good game with a lot of quirky stuff - but you have to persevere with it. Your initial reaction is to try the good games - play 2 minutes of the 'crap' games then deem them crap. But if you try more it reveals hidden depth. I'm actually quite enjoying it now.

Goes to show what happens when a system is starved of games Nyaa

Reminds me when I was younger and would save my pocket money for a couple of weeks to go buy a CD for £14.  Even if it was shit I made sure I listened to it enough times to "discover it's hidden depth" and start to like it.

Joking aside, Nintendoland is kind of interesting but it should have been free.  £45 for a mini-game compilation with no online is kind of ridiculous.

Mon, 10 Jun 2013 00:34:14
I cannot believe how many completely bad games I used to play over and over again on the C64 just because they were the only ones I had.
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