Nintendo is literally putting their name on the line. Maybe that's why they have spent excessive amounts of time at their presentations pounding it into people's heads... repetition is extremely important for a brand's marketing and recognition. I personally think the majority of their IPs don't need so much explanation, nor do the simplified "experiences" that this title offers, but since it's a big deal to them, it's going to be a big deal for us too, as it seems to be the flagship game for the Wii U and is probably going to take a lion's share of their future communications leading up to the console's launch.
Unfortunately, all that talking overshadows what the game is even supposed to be about, which is fun, and it turns out that Nintendoland does that quite well. Although Wii Sports was simple, new, and interesting enough to present well on-stage, it did play well when people got a chance to try it for themselves.
Nintendoland is missing ticks in a couple of those checkboxes. First, it is more or less simple, yet also being complex enough to warrant instructions and guidance about strategy, etc., and having the park's main hub area littered with so much random stuff one might expect the King of all Cosmos
to have had some hand in designing it. Second, the IPs represented are not new, nor is the presentation as what most would classify as a "mini-game collection", especially on hardware bearing the "Wii" name. However, the interesting part does apply, and part of that is thanks to what the Wii U and its Gamepad brings to the table. Unfortunately, because a lot of that uniqueness relies on multiple control schemes, multiple players, and multiple game scenarios, its interest can't be properly conveyed until one tries it.
Even after RMC got a private post-conference session with all that is Nintendoland, his glowing praise for it didn't sink in, just as the game didn't truly resonate for me during the presentation; through no fault of their own. It wasn't until I got to give it a shot did I really understand why he was so excited, and ultimately why Nintendo had become so excited and proud to boost a game like this to the prominence they did.
Of the five experiences shown at E3, I played three of them, as recommended by word of mouth: Luigi's Mansion, Animal Crossing, and Zelda. Time limitations forced the choices. I would also probably rank them in the same order in terms of overall entertainment value and how much I personally liked them. I'll leave the descriptions, controls, etc. for you to research separately on your own if you are interested in that data.
Luigi's Mansion is bascially that same Pacman VS idea Miyamoto showed almost ten years ago at E3 using a Gamecube and GBA connector, but much more refined. I handled the Gamepad and controlled the ghost, while four really mean people tried hunting me. Ultimately they succeeded, but just barely. I like that a good bit of strategy and mind games are used in this, but it does feel a touch off-balance. It's already four on one, and it's relatively easy for it to stay that ratio, despite the ghost being able to disable some players until they are revived by their teammates. But as the timer winds down, lightning began frequently striking, giving away my only real advantage. I wonder if there's an equal feature when the other team is disadvantaged...like one or two players remaining? Otherwise, a great game, with plenty of depth and replayability. We had an intense match going, and even began drawing a small crowd, which says something about this experience's quality.
Animal Crossing is a similar idea--one player using the Gamepad to hunt others--but does so by splitting the player's attention between two characters, independently controlled by each analog stick. Yes, left stick controls one guard; right stick the other. My brain doesn't quite work that way, so it was a constant struggle for me to maintain any semblance of playing. Similar to my use of an Etch a Sketch, using both knobs at once to draw a circle or diagonal line is a real challenge for me; instead I'll make quick, small tradeoffs between left and right to approximate the same result. Luckily it worked in my case. Lots of little details add to the balance here, which in turns drives up the replay value.
Zelda was good, but is a different approach than the other two. It also lacks an equivalent measure of balance because of its different format, and that's no detriment. I played as both an archer and a swordsman, preferring the arrows to blades, though it didn't seem to affect gameplay much depending on which you choose. The visuals are fine, the controls work great... it really does seem to nail some of the core Zelda ideas. The only thing I wonder about is what kind of replay this will have. Enemies always spawn in the same places, the puzzles are always the same, and for now we only saw one Forest Temple level. I played it twice and felt thoroughly accomplished enough that I would probably never choose it again--even in the final retail version--if nothing significant changed. Assuming they can figure out how to add more variety and depth to this one, it will be a fine addition to Nintendoland's lineup.
We've seen a glimpse of the F-Zero experience in action and know there's a Metroid icon in the mix as well, so it's probably safe to say there will be plenty more for the media to cover. But again, until you actually get to try them, don't rely too much on our inadequately verbose praise, be an objective adult and reserve passing judgement until you have; they're really good fun. —cortjezter