With the recent motherlode of information released about Nintendo’s upcoming games console, the Wii U, we now know the release date, price (kind of) and bundles we should be getting. But a console is pretty useless without the games to play on it, a fact of which Nintendo are plainly aware, as we were also treated to a load more details on their newest title, Nintendo Land. Designed as a showcase for the Wii U's tablet controller, and bundled with the Wii U Premium Pack, kind of like Wii Sports for the next generation, Nintendo Land sees your Mii characters wondering around a virtual theme park, taking part in some twelve different mini-games themed around some of Nintendo’s old game franchises. When it was first announced at E3 a few months ago, Nintendo only let us have a peek at a few of the games that we'd be playing – but now we have details of all twelve games that'll come on the disc, as follows:
Takamaru's Ninja Castle
Based on a single seriously obscure Nintendo game from the 80s, Takamaru’s Ninja Castle is a single-player romp through ninja-infested feudal Japan, revealed at E3 earlier this year. Holding the Wii U GamePad portrait rather than landscape, you have an endless supply of ninja throwing stars, which you flick from your GamePad screen to the TV, taking down as many of the cardboard cut-out ninja swarm as you can. As wave upon wave of enemies fill your screen, you’ll have the chance to rack up huge scores, depending on the speed and accuracy with which you can throw the stars – just don’t let them hit you three times, or it’s game over.
Luigi's Ghost Mansion
In this game, the player with the Wii U GamePad becomes a spooky spectral version of their former selves, able to slip through the winding passages of the mansion unnoticed by the other four players. If you're playing as the ghost, it's up to you to sneak up behind each of the four other players and tag them - but it's not as easy as it sounds. Each of the other players comes armed with a torch to try and catch the ghoulie in the act, temporarily stunning it and knocking off some of its health when it gets caught in their beams. Whichever team is left standing before the timer runs out is declared the winner.
The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest
Based on the ever popular Zelda series of games, The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest is a co-operative jaunt for three players, with two players become sword-wielding Link impersonators with Wii Remotes, whilst the remaining person moves the Wii U GamePad around to fire arrows as an archer. You’ll need to work together to defeat swarms of enemies, which often require Skyward Sword
-style directional strikes to cut through their defenses, and solve simple puzzles, like firing arrows at two hard to reach buttons or activating three switches simultaneously. And with everyone sharing the same health bar, cooperation has never been more important – particularly if you want to survive to the end of each dungeon level.
Animal Crossing: Sweet Day
This five player mini-game dresses the four Wii Remote using players in animal outfits, sending them scurrying round the screen collecting sweets from trees – the more sweets you grab, the bigger your characters’ head gets and the slower you move. Attempting to hunt down the candy-grabbing critters is the player with the Wii U GamePad who controls two different guard dogs simultaneously, one for each of the analogue sticks. It’s another example of the one-versus-four ‘asymmetric gameplay’ that Nintendo showcased at E3 earlier this year, with the costumed-characters racing around to accumulate enough sweets before the GamePad-wielding character catches the others three times.
Donkey Kong's Crash Course
Another one showcased at E3 a few months ago, Donkey Kong’s Crash Course is another single player attraction, this time based on the old-school arcade classic, Donkey Kong. This time round though, you’re not rescuing a woman from the clutches of an angry, barrel-hurling ape, but piloting a cart-like contraption around a course to the goal, picking up bananas as you go. Showcasing the Wii U GamePad’s built in gyroscope, your vehicle is controlled by tilting the controller left and right to navigate it over the platforms – tilt it a little bit to move slowly and carefully, or lean it a lot to send your cart careening over jumps; just watch out for the walls...
Captain Falcon's Twister Race
Details are a bit scarce on this one – all we really know is that one Mii character gets to jump into one of high-speed futuristic racer F-Zero’s jet car things and races round a track filled with trademark leaps, traps and speed-boosts. A second player can then jump in and somehow assist you while you're racing around the tracks, although quite how they lend a hand (or make themselves a hindrance) is as yet unknown...
Metroid Blast has two different modes, depending on whether you prefer to play cooperatively or competitively. In co-op, two people play as orange-suit clad Miis, the person with the Wii Remote taking down enemies on foot, and the other player soaring through the skies in a ship using the Wii U GamePad. The versus mode is essentially the same thing, but with the four characters on foot teaming up against the single airbourne player – while the ship may be able to boost through the skies, pick up rapid-fire power-ups and create massive explosions with it’s missiles, the foot soldiers can move faster and hide amongst the environment.
Balloon Trip Breeze
Sadly, only a single player game, Balloon Trip Breeze sees your Mii strapped to a few balloons floating through the sky. Controlled with the Touch Screen, you need to navigate your character from one side of the screen to the other, avoiding all sorts of obstacles and enemies as you go. You’ll need to break blocks with your stylus, avoid spiky balls that threaten to pop your balloons and avoid hungry sea creatures as you’re blown along by the stylus-induced gusts of wind, popping balloons for points and picking up presents to deliver to the odd Mii character you find.
Another game that showcases Nintendo’s new ‘asymmetric gameplay’ idea, the player with the Wii U GamePad controls a Mii version of Mario who needs to run through a maze to avoid four other players, who're each playing as Toad using a Wii Remote, with Mario given a ten second head start to bolt as far away as he can, before the Toads are released to hunt him down around a series of maze-like arenas. While four against one may sound unfair, Mario has the distinct advantage of being able to see the entire map on the screen of the GamePad, which also shows the positions of all the other players, while the Toads can only see directly in front of them.
A co-operative ‘team attraction’ that lets five players dress up as Pikmin star, Captain Olimar or one of a collection of large, differently-coloured Pikmin, it's up to you and your friends to fight through each of the wildlife filled levels to reach the spaceship at the end. The person playing as Olimar takes on a commanding role here, using the Wii U GamePad to send a swarm of mini-Pikmin soldiers into battle, chucking them at enemies to attack them, and also comes armed with a whistle, which he can use to call the player-controlled Pikmin to him, before chucking them at the enemies. Meanwhile, the four other players control their Pikmin with Wii Remotes, running around bashing bad guys, and collecting the nectar they drop to increase their abilities, making them more powerful.
With ten of the twelve games now fully revealed, it's tantalising that Nintendo have held information about two of the minigames back - in fact, all we really know about them is what they're going to be called. The first, Octopus Dance, is based around that 2D blinking dot matrix octopus that’s best known as Mr. Game & Watch’s special smash move on Super Smash Bros. Brawl
, while the second, Yoshi's Fruit Cart, sees Mario’s noble steed taking centre stage. Hopefully we’ll hear more about the remaining two titles over the next ten weeks or so before the Wii U launches on the 30th of November this year.
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