Nintendo Land: All the big names in really small games

Hands-on: Nintendo busts out its big franchises for a Wii U tech demo

Nintendo used to use a flagship Mario game to show off the technical innovations of its new consoles. But in the age of user-friendly mini-game compilations, those days, it seems, are over.

It had Wii Sports to put the Wii Remote through its paces in 2006, and in 2012 it'll show off the Wii U controller with with another Mii-filled mini game compilation titled Nintendo Land.

The full game will be formed of a selection of 12 different games, each one based on a big Nintendo franchise, and each making use of the Wii U's unique features. Nintendo revealed 5 of those games to the sweaty crowd of E3, and we played them all. Here are our impressions.

The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest


Making a b-line for the Zelda booth was a given. But it wasn't quite what we expected. This mini game was for three players - two with a Wii Remote, and one with the Wii U controller.

The Wii Remote players control swordsmen - Mii characters dressed in tunics like Link - swinging the remote in any direction to swing their blade much like Skyward Sword, defeating enemies in a split-screen view on the telly. The Wii U controller user plays an archer with their gameplay unfolding in first-person on the tablet screen.

All three players move forward automatically down a linear path, killing enemies that confront them along the way. As the Remote players slash frantically, the tablet player moves the controller around to aim their arrows, pressing the Rz trigger (Wii U equivalent of the R2 button) to ready an arrow and releasing the button to fire.

The Swordsmen deal with ground enemies with direction-based vulnerability (metal guys with linear weak spots that spin around, and goblins with shields held at different angles), while the archer takes out enemies up in watchtowers and hit switches that the swordsmen can't reach to open doors.

It's simple cardboard and stitch work visual style is quirky, and reflects the simplicity of a game that, from what we saw, will probably better suit a younger gamer than a seasoned Zelda fanatic.

Luigi's Ghost Mansion


This was one of the better games of the selection - and a lot like the Chase Mii mini game shown at last year's E3.

Four players with Wii Remotes control Miis armed with flashlights. They're dropped into a Pac-man-like maze stage (set inside a dark, haunted mansion, of course) who wonder around trying to find the ghost. That ghost is controlled by a fifth player with the Wii U tablet.

It's basically Pac-Man in reverse. The ghost player uses the tablet screen to run round the mansion, grabbing the Mii players to make them feint. The other four players can't see the ghost on the TV but they know when his close because the Wii Remote vibrates. Shining their flashlight on the ghost reveals his position and renders him harmless for a few seconds, before he fades back to invisibility.

It's a fun game of cat and mouse, especially playing as a runner, nervously trying to seek out the ghost's position using the vibrating pulses of the Remote - like the bleeping radar in the Aliens movies.

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