Friday, October 26, 2012

NYCC 2012: Wii U and Nintendo Land Impressions

This past weekend, I went to New York Comic Con at the Javits Center in New York City. One of the many things I was looking forward to during the show was finally getting my hands on the Wii U at Nintendo’s booth. Appropriately enough, the first game I tried was Nintendo’s pack in title for the deluxe version of the Wii U, Nintendo Land. Of Nintendo Land’s 12 mini-games, I got to try out Metroid Blast, Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, and The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest. This was also my first time experiencing the Wii U console itself. As a first impression of the console, I have to say I was very impressed.

Metroid Blast was the first game I got to play and this was a great introduction to the system's touch screen controller. Using the Wii U controller, I piloted a spaceship along with two foot soldiers who were controlled by people with Wii Remotes and Nunchuks. Working together, we had to take down waves of enemies, similar to a hoard mode in other games.

The spaceship in this game is actually a really great example of the Wii U controller’s function. All of the spaceship's actions happen on the controller's screen, meaning I never had to look at the TV and my partners couldn't easily see what I was doing. The left control stick pilots your ship to move in the x and y axis while the right stick moves your ship up and down as well as turn. All the aiming is done by tilting the controller, which actually looks and plays great. Much to my surprise, the Wii U controller is incredibly light and comfortable to hold. I had no problem aiming my shots because the controller's built in gyroscope was very responsive. I'll admit that I had my reservations about the controller, but I genuinely enjoyed playing with the controller. It's made a believer out of me.

As for my experience with Metroid Blast, we actually ran into some trouble fighting the enemies. I’ll admit that it was mostly my fault. You see, the spaceship has the ability to fire missiles if you charge your laser shots. The missiles have a large blast radius, allowing you to hit multiple targets at once. The thing is, this game has friendly fire, and I kept hitting my teammates. My bad. The good news is it’s not too hard for the ground players to recover their health (they can even recover health after their HP reaches 0), so we were able to defeat all the enemies.

We then played a battle game where it was me (with 6 hit points) versus the two ground players (with 3 hit points each). One of the representatives in charge at this station commented how the spaceship player was on a losing streak, and I can see why. The spaceship player is at huge disadvantage. Remember what I said about the ground players recovering health easily? It all still applies here. With less than 30 seconds left, I was down to one hit point while my opponents had 1 and 3 hit points, respectively. Despite the odds, I was able to hit them with an aggressive attack and somehow manage to pull out a win. It was exhilarating.

The next game I got to try was Luigi’s Ghost Mansion. I was on a team of four ghost hunters (using the Wii Remotes) who had to find a ghost (being controlled by a fifth player with a Wii U controller) who was hiding somewhere. It was our job to drain his health with our flash lights before he sneaks up behind each of us and knock us out. Personally, I thought this was a fun game. My biggest problem was that my teammates were a mother and her two young sons. The kids were probably 5 and 7 years old and they got frighten by this game. Unfortunately, that means our team didn’t stand much of a chance. I have to give the ghost player credit; he was trying his hardest to give the kids a fighting chance. It just wasn’t happening. Oh well. I did jokingly yell at the guy “Good going, you made children cry!” after the family left. Everyone in the area got a good laugh.

The last Nintendo Land game I got to try was The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest. Technically, we weren’t supposed to play it, but no one was waiting in line for Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, so the representatives and the players who stuck around decided to play this game instead. This game is an on rails game where everyone works together to fight a series of enemies while sharing the same health bar. The players using Wii Remotes fought with swords while the person using the Wii U controller fought with a bow and arrow. The game was a lot of fun to play. There were instances where specific inputs were required and the addition of a shield allowed us to do more than just be on the offensive all the time. It was simple, but with good friends I can see this game being enjoyed.

I think that might be the biggest key to your enjoyment of this game. At least as far as the multiplayer games are concerned, it looks like you’re going to need four other willing and open minded friends to get full enjoyment of this game. As a showcase for what the system can do, these three games have done an excellent job at convincing me that the Wii U will be good. As far as Nintendo Land goes; this game feels like a natural successor to Wii Sports. It shows off the Wii U capabilities and showcases the history of Nintendo. The most important thing I can say about Nintendo Land, however, is that I had fun. And that is why I definitely want a Wii U now.

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