Nintendo Land: Just add friends
NintendoLand is at its best when four or five players compete at once.
Nintendo's new Wii U is a strange device.
Unfortunately, the inconsistent compilation Nintendo Land fails to justify the console's novel design or ensure must-buy status like Wii Sports famously did for its astonishingly popular predecessor.
The good news is that Nintendo Land is very entertaining if you can gather your family and friends around the console and its unusual tablet-style controller.
The best of the 12 attractions are variations around the same theme. They give one player a unique view of the action via the private screen of the Wii U GamePad while other players wave Wii Remotes while viewing the big-screen action on the TV.
There's a frantic and often hilarious Mario-themed game of tag where the player with the tablet has a full view of their maze and their speedier pursuers.
Another contest has players with Wii Remotes collect candy while the player with the GamePad screen simultaneously controls two guards (one with each analog stick) trying to hunt them down.
The best challenge is a new spin on GameCube classic Luigi's Mansion. The player with the screen controls an invisible ghost haunting other players who are equipped with only a torch.
The package also includes some reasonably substantial co-operative games, such as a Metroid-inspired shooter.
The highlight sees Wii Remote players acting as Pikmin, working together to battle enemies with the GamePad master who commands Captain Olimar.
Nintendo Land also features a collection of half a dozen solo pursuits, but they are shallow and offer precious little long-term appeal. You can't help but wonder why Nintendo chose to include them at all, and instead focus all of its energies on party favours.
Solo activities include a dreary motion-controlled racing game, a Simon-says dancing contest, and a lengthy obstacle course.
The most novel is a challenge where you must draw a path for Yoshi on the touch screen. The tricky part is that obstacles and targets can only be seen on the television.
At its best, Nintendo Land is an amusing party game, but you will spend a lot of time waiting for a turn, listening to instructions or explaining the controls.
There's also too many dull single-player games to make the package an essential buy.
What have you been playing lately?
- Jason Hill