Our Wii U and Nintendo Land

Tim brought home our Wii U last night, and as he’d done the tedious hour-long update at work, it was just a matter of setting up our user accounts.. individual accounts linked to the new Nintendo Network this time.

I decided not to bother importing my old Mii yet.. the transfer from the Wii is easy enough but both consoles have to be connected to the internet to do it.. and besides, there was a new Mii Maker to play with!

I had the Wii U make my Mii based on a photo taken on the GamePad.. this works a little like passport photos where you fit your face appears between the guides, hold a neutral facial expression, etc.  The resulting Mii was actually a bit creepy.. too much like me instead of cartoon-cute like the old Mii, so I adjusted a few features before accepting it.

Our Wii U came with Nintendo Land, so for now that’s all we’ve got.. though we’ve stuck ZombiU on the shopping list! 😉

Nintendo Land is a virtual theme park, featuring the Nintendo Land Plaza and twelve mini-games set out as Attractions: three Team Attractions, for one to five players; three Competitive Attractions, for two to five players; and six Solo Attractions.

You can walk your Mii up to the Attraction Gate for any particular game, or just pick from a list.  You can also use the coins you earn from games to play a ball-dropping slot-machine type game to win random Nintendo items to interact with in the Plaza.. this far I’ve got a battery car and a jukebox 🙂

Miiverse, the inbuilt online community, means other Miis will turn up and wander around your Plaza too (you can disable this if you want).  You can touch other Miis to find out more about them, but I didn’t try this out.  The Miiverse also allows you to find friends, follow individuals or join communities around particular topics, then post a message or draw something with the GamePad and stylus.

I haven’t seen any penis artwork yet, but it’s early days.. I’m sure somebody will sneak one past moderation soon enough!

The first game we tried was Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, where all but one player act as ghost hunters, searching for a ghost within a maze-like room while the last player takes the role of the ghost, hunting the hunters!  The ghost player uses the GamePad and inbuilt screen, with their own view of the game, as the ghost is invisible on the TV.  Hunters are warned by the vibration of their controller when the ghost is near, and then flash their torches on the ghost to weaken it.

I was first up as the ghost, and loved trying to catch Tim before he or an AI player got their torch on me!  All I had to do was catch a player three times, making them faint, but actually doing it.. it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be!  I kept being caught in stray beams where the hunters spun circles at my approach, or when I tried to dash around a corner but didn’t quite reach my target (the dash makes the ghost visible).  Properly sneaking up on Tim felt impossible as his controller went nuts, warning him that I was near!

After playing a couple of rounds we swapped over.. and since I now couldn’t see my opponent, I felt even more vulnerable!  The ghost could be around the next corner or at the far side of the room.. and if the controller started vibrating I still didn’t know exactly where he was.  It was a lot of fun, though 🙂

We also tried out the co-operative The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest; players with regular controllers use a sword and shield, but the player with the GamePad gets a bow and arrow.. a little weak against regular enemies but great for picking off snipers.  We went through a couple of levels before Tim went back to his coding.. I will be dragging him back to this game again soon!

On to the solo games!  Each makes use of the GamePad in a different way.. steering the car around the track in Captain Falcon’s Twister Race, tilting to move the player around the platforms in Donkey Kong’s Crash Course and so on.  I hope other developers have been taking note and make use of it too, in other games to come! 🙂

Takamaru’s Ninja Castle had me throwing paper stars at enemy ninjas by whipping a finger across the touchscreen, tilting the screen to change trajectory.  I found the GamePad a bit big and heavy to hold out in one hand for long, though.

I really liked the tilting platformer Donkey Kong’s Crash Course, with various drops, jumps and lifts to navigate, and the whole thing split into areas with checkpoints.  True to the name there was a lot of crashing.. there are some fiendish little drops!  A ghost player shows the current best time for the course.. I loved overtaking it and knowing that I was making a better time, or seeing it crash on an obstacle I was now clearing.

The TV shows the full course or a zoomed view of part of the track, but the GamePad’s screen is enough to play the game with.. so this one can even be played while the TV is in use for something else!  I’ll be going back to this game a lot.. it’s my favourite of the solo games 🙂

Captain Falcon’s Twister Race is a fun racer, with steering controlled by the GamePad, though again I felt the size of the GamePad while holding it upright.  This game also used the GamePad’s camera for a mirror-style view.. it was strange to look up at the TV and see myself and Tim in a little box, tilting as I went round corners!

Balloon Trip Breeze has the player’s Mii take a ride via balloon between islands, collecting parcels and other balloons, and avoiding obstacles such as spikes and a large fish which lunges out of the water if you get too close!  To keep the Mii in the air, you have to swipe the stylus along the touch screen to create a breeze in the direction you wish to move, though the game keeps you constantly moving to the left.  While pretty and easy to play, I wasn’t too fussed over this game, though I’d probably give it another shot.

Yoshi’s Fruit Cart was interesting.. the player has to guide Yoshi across the map, and collect all the fruit, by drawing a path on the GamePad.  The fruit is displayed only on the TV, so there’s a little bit of estimating to do while drawing the path.  In the first levels, the background patterns can be used to help with this, though you soon earn a few ticks to help you; these are visible on both TV and GamePad screen.  This game is pretty good for training your hand-eye co-ordination 😀

Octopus Dance is a rhythm game, where you watch and then copy the moves made by the diver on-screen, next to your Mii.  The TV and GamePad show the front and back views, so you can follow whichever one you find easier to copy.. the diver will spin you both around from time to time though, so you have to switch where you’re watching.  It also speeds up rather quickly, and I found it hard to follow as it sped up.  This was my least favourite game of the set.

Nintendo Land is more fun than I expected, and I think it’ll be even better when the family come around at Christmas 🙂

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