Nintendo Land is the game that Nintendo seems to be relying on to differentiate the Wii U from all its other consoles and the other gaming options out there. It does this admirably; it’s a fantastic collection of 12 unique smaller (not quite small) games (or ‘attractions’) based in Nintendo’s various universes that are polished to an extreme and gel incredibly well together. Nintendo Land is, in short, a refreshing, addictive surprise wholly suited to solo play as well as playing with family and friends.
Nintendo Land is really 12 games, each about the scope of a quality downloadable title and uniformly fun with not a dud among them. The games are divided up into competitive attractions, team attractions and solo attractions. To give you an idea I’ll describe them:
The competitive attractions have one player using the Wii U GamePad and the other players using Wii Remotes in a one vs many configuration. This means the player with the GamePad has different information and controls to the other players, what Nintendo calls ‘Asymmetrical Multiplayer.’
Mario Chase: One player uses the Wii U’s GamePad to control their Mii dressed up as Mario and up to four other players use Wii Remotes to control their Miis dressed up as Toads. The Toads try to catch Mario, it’s that simple. It’s also brilliant. The GamePad shows Mario where all the Toads are, but the Toads can only see ahead of them so they must communicate to each other if they see Mario. The areas of the stages are themed in colours to allow the Toads to communicate (eg: “He’s in the Red section!”). If Mario survives for two and a half minutes he wins. A great touch is the replay afterwards which shows the path Mario and the Toads took on a map, letting you see just how close it was and laugh about what happened. There are three stages with unique features in each which changes up the strategies you can use as Mario or the chasers.
Luigi’s Ghost Mansion: This time the player with the GamePad is a ghost who haunts a room in the mansion. The players are dressed up as Mario, Luigi, Wario and Waluigi (it’s been a while since we saw him!), and must use their torches to shine light on the ghost to chase him away. Each player’s Wii Remote rumbles when the ghost is near them, but that’s all you have to go on and your torch quickly runs out of batteries, leaving you vulnerable. There are three different maps to play on and the experience is really different if you play as the Ghost too, where you are all-seeing and all knowing instead of being in the dark.