E3 2012: Nintendo Land: Wii Sports without the faux athleticism

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Nintendo Land preview
Nintendo ended its E3 2012 briefing on a flat note, unveiling a suite of mini games taking the company's iconic franchises and creating multiplayer and single-player romps out of them. While it's not exactly the Legend of Zelda or Metroid that hardcore Nintendo fans were looking for, Nintendo Land serves its purpose incredibly well: showing what this baby can do.

Luigi's Ghost Mansion previewTo that end, Nintendo Land is for Wii U what Wii Sports and Wii Play were for the original Wii console. In other words, most of the games we saw under the Nintendo Land moniker today were a downright blast. And that's for one reason: They showcase the console's most compelling feature (that we've been able to experience): asymmetric multiplayer. We're talking games that pit three or four players against one, something Mario Party fans are all too familiar with.

Of the five Nintendo Land games showcased today, the most interesting were those that focused in on this feature. Take Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, for instance. This mini game sees four players romp around an adorable riff on Candy Land, shaking down trees for sweets and holding on to them for as long as possible. The fellow that they're trying to keep away from is the guy with the Wii U game pad, who has a unique advantage.

The dude with the tablet can control two characters at once, sending them in all sorts of directions wielding a fork and knife with which to lunge at the four Wii remote users, shaking them free of their candy. This dynamic makes for one fun play experience with a couple of buddies, just like Wii Sports in its prime.

Similar to this is Luigi's Ghost Mansion, the subject of a rather lengthy demo during Nintendo's E3 2012 briefing. Long story short: This mini game essentially takes the same concept that much farther. While the ghost (the Wii U game pad holder) sneaks around, invisible to his four friends, those folks try to find him using the Wii remote's rumble feature. When they're close, the ghost has the chance to knock them out, but the other players have a shot at shining some damaging light on him.
The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest preview
Mini games like The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest don't focus on asymmetric competitive multiplayer, but rather cooperative sessions that give the Wii U game pad user and the Wii remote users unique tasks that contribute to the group in unique ways. For instance, this game in particular sees the player with the Wii U game pad firing arrows at enemies, while the other players slash at baddies with the Wii remote. If anything, it's most interesting to see Nintendo distills concepts from a more "hardcore" Wii game into a more casual affair that all players can get behind.

For all the praise Nintendo Land deserves, the suite falters in its single player offerings like Takamaru's Ninja Castle and Donkey Kong's Crash Course. These mini games don't fail in how they showcase what the Wii U tablet is capable of--they just don't show off what's most interesting about the thing: the multiplayer. Of course, this is only five of the 12 games that will be available with Nintendo Land when it launches alongside the Wii U this fall.

Ultimately, it's this type of simple yet fun play with friends that put Wii on the map years ago through Wii Sports, and Nintendo stands to emulate that with the Wii U and Nintendo Land. Of course, that all depends on that elusive price tag.

Are you psyched about Nintendo Land on Wii U? Will this be the killer app for Nintendo's new console? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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