nintendoland



Any game that comes packaged with the Wii U (well, some of the Wii U models... the $300 Basic set is Nintendo Land-less) is going to struggle to replicate the success of Wii Sports. That title probably single-handedly sold tens of millions of original Wii systems, because it was a perfect fit for Nintendo's new motion-sensitive Wii Remote, introducing the new control concept using simple, sports-based games. Wii Sports was the game you could bring out at a party, confident that even your non-gamer friends would be able to grasp the basic concepts after five seconds of explanation and actually have fun.

Nintendo Land has a much more difficult job: showing new Wii U owners how to use the touchscreen GamePad in unique and interesting ways. The developers have put together 12 wide-ranging minigames that show off everything about the GamePad: its tilt and touchscreen features, its stick and button controls, its ability to display information hidden from others players.

It’s difficult to discuss such varied minigames in aggregate, so I've broken this review down into smaller capsule reviews of each one, arranged here in rough descending order of how appealing I found them. Scroll down to the end for a more general wrap-up and recommendation for the game as a whole.

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From the system's first unveiling at E3 2011 to Thursday's final announcement of launch details, Nintendo has been releasing information about its next home console, the Wii U, in bits and pieces for about 15 months now. Unless you've been closely following all those data drops, you may have missed some important details about Nintendo's future hardware plans.

That's where we come in. The below FAQ collects all the pertinent information we currently know about the Wii U.

Basic information

Q: So when is this thing coming out?

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From the system's first unveiling at E3 2011 to Thursday's final announcement of launch details, Nintendo has been releasing information about its next home console, the Wii U, in bits and pieces for about 15 months now. Unless you've been closely following all those data drops, you may have missed some important details about Nintendo's future hardware plans.

That's where we come in. The below FAQ collects all the pertinent information we currently know about the Wii U.

Basic information

Q: So when is this thing coming out?

Read 63 remaining paragraphs | Comments


One of only two titles confirmed to be available on the Wii U's November 18 launch, so far...

Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime would only confirm two titles that would definitely be ready when the Wii U launches in North America November 18—"deluxe edition" pack-in NintendoLand and side-scrolling, Super Mario World-inspired New Super Mario Bros. U. But Nintendo also unveiled a list of 50 titles that would be available in the "launch window," which the company defines as the period from launch through the end of March 2013. Individual launch dates for each of these titles will be announced directly by the publishers, Fils-Aime said.

Perhaps the most notable thing about the list is how many titles are simply ports of games that will be anywhere from a month to a year old on existing consoles by the time the Wii U launches. That list includes versions of Mass Effect 3, Darksiders II, Madden NFL 13, FIFA Soccer 13, NBA 2K13, 007 Legends, Batman: Arkham City, and Tekken Tag Tournament 2.

While each of these games will sport new features that make use of the Wii U's touchscreen GamePad, it's hard to imagine any of those features compelling people to buy a Wii U if they've already played the game on a current-generation HD system. More likely, these older ports are targeted at customers that might only own a Wii and are looking to play catch-up with some of the high-profile releases they've missed over the last year or so.

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One of only two titles confirmed to be available on the Wii U's November 18 launch, so far...

Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime would only confirm two titles that would definitely be ready when the Wii U launches in North America November 18—"deluxe edition" pack-in NintendoLand and side-scrolling, Super Mario World-inspired New Super Mario Bros. U. But Nintendo also unveiled a list of 50 titles that would be available in the "launch window," which the company defines as the period from launch through the end of March 2013. Individual launch dates for each of these titles will be announced directly by the publishers, Fils-Aime said.

Perhaps the most notable thing about the list is how many titles are simply ports of games that will be anywhere from a month to a year old on existing consoles by the time the Wii U launches. That list includes versions of Mass Effect 3, Darksiders II, Madden NFL 13, FIFA Soccer 13, NBA 2K13, 007 Legends, Batman: Arkham City, and Tekken Tag Tournament 2. While each of these games will sport new features that make use of the Wii U's touchscreen GamePad, it's hard to imagine any of those features compelling people to buy a Wii U if they've already played the game on a current-generation HD system. More likely, these older ports are targeted at customers that might only own a Wii and are looking to play catch-up with some of the high-profile releases they've missed over the last year or so.

The launch-window game list also includes a number of contemporaneous ports of games that will be coming to other systems later this year. Some of these games are titles that would likely not have received a port on the underpowered Wii, such as Assassin's Creed 3, Ninja Gaiden 3, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Other multiplatform titles seem best suited to the family-friendly audience the Wii U appears likely to cultivate, such as Skylanders Giants, Just Dance 4, and Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two. Overall, it's a good sign for Nintendo that its system won't be missing out on versions of some of the most-anticipated multiplatform games during the launch window. The long-term test, though, will be whether the Wii U can handle ports of games designed for Sony and Microsoft's next consoles (currently expected for the 2013 holiday season at the earliest).

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At a press event today in New York, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime announced that the Wii U will launch in the United States on Sunday, November 18.

The system will come in two configurations: A white basic set at $299.99 that comes with 8GB on built-in memory, plus a Wii U GamePad, AC adapter, and HDMI cable. A black deluxe set, costing $349.99, will include everything in the basic bundle plus 32GB of total flash storage, a GamePad charging cradle, stands for the GamePad and console, and a copy of NintendoLand. The deluxe edition will also let users redeem points for every digital download purchased for the system.

Neither configuration will include a Wii Remote or Nunchuk because, Fils-Aime said, "we don't want to require people repurchasing these accessories that they already own."

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Replace that bulky Wii U GamePad with a Wii Remote in this picture and tell me it doesn't look more comfortable...

At Nintendo's E3 press conference this morning, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said NintendoLand would serve as the new system's version of Wii Sports; a killer app that could immediately convey the appeal of the system's new controller to a skeptical audience. And in fact, NintendoLand does a good job of demonstrating what can be done with the touchscreen-equipped GamePad, but I'm not sure it will attract the same, wide audience of non-traditional gamers that Wii Sports did.

The main problem with the five NintendoLand mini-games the company is showing at E3 is that they tend to require quite a bit of explanation to understand. Take Animal Crossing: Sweet Day, a slightly tweaked version of the hide-and-seek tech demo Nintendo showed off at last year's E3. Before we got going, a PR rep had to spend about a minute explaining how the four players with Wii Remotes are working together to collect candy, how carrying more candy slows a player down, and how to drop candy when the antagonists (controlled by the GamePad) got too close. It's not too complicated by video game standards, but it's far from the five-second "swing it like a tennis racquet" explanation of Wii Sports, and it's likely enough to scare away anyone not already versed in how games work.

Similarly, the player using the GamePad in Sweet Day has to control two separate characters using the GamePad's two analog sticks, a concept that is a bit difficult to master even for people with a lot of video game experience. Trying to get your non-gaming grandmother to play this role in NintendoLand seems likely to be a lot tougher than getting her to try a few frames of Wii Sports bowling.

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