By Steve Wright
I had the chance today to check out Nintendo's new Wii U, and along side it, the virtual theme park that is Nintendo Land.
Grasping the surprisingly comfortable Wii U gamepad in my hands, I gave the "Donkey Kong's Crash Course" attraction a go first. It was a simple, yet complex title; you tilt the gamepad to the left or the right, and depending on the angle, you send you carted hero through an obstacle course mirroring the look of the original Donkey Kong.
The idea of "Crash Course," and every other Nintendo mini-gam...um, I mean attraction...is to showcase a certain new feature that the Wii U gamepad brings. Next up, we tried "Takumara's Ninja Castle," in which you hold the Wii U gamepad vertically, flicking your finger up the touchscreen to throw ninja stars at targets. You also need to aim at said targets using the gamepad's IR sensor. Simple fun, and a great introduction to the new device.
Nintendo Land's "Zelda" level has four players on Wiimotes swinging swords at enemies, while a fifth person on the Wii U gamepad uses the device to launch arrows at foes. Holding the gamepad and moving it up, down, left and right means that you'll be moving the camera for your playable character; if you want to shoot someone on the left of your peripheral vision, you can pivot to the left to square them up and launch arrowed justice.
The "Animal Crossing" and "Luigi's Mansion" levels cater from two to five players, and feature that asynchronous gameplay that's continually mentioned with the Wii U. As seen in the Nintendo press conference, four Wiimote players use the TV to run around a map, trying to shine their torches on an invisible ghost, while the gamepad player - unseen on the TV, but visible to the player's own control - tries to hunt everyone else down. "Animal Crossing" is much the same, and it's no secret that those two were the most enjoyable sequences of the five we had hands-on today.
Nintendo Land is much like Wii Sports was to the Wii -- a tad gimmicky, but a great introduction to the new console and its new controller. I don't expect the title to have a lot of staying power, but it'll be very fun while it lasts.