17 Reviews

NintendoLand review: A mixed bag but a clever showcase for GamePad

All the fun of the (un)fair

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Balloon Race Breeze

Players: 1

Ah, now this is a lot better. It's a faithful reinvention of the classic NES avoid-'em-up of (nearly) the same name - except with a few changes to bring it in line with modern-day expectations. Chief amongst these is that you now use the touchscreen to steer your balloon-powered kid around - each brush of the stylus causing a breeze that carries him flying off in that direction.

At its heart it's a high-score game, and there are several neat risk versus reward mechanics that you can exploit to boost your score. Dipping into the water for a few microseconds encourages a kid-eating fish to bubble to the surface, for example - give him the dodge and he'll burp out a handy power-up. You can also choose to ferry a surprise gift to the next checkpoint, but it weighs you down, and can easily get snagged on one of the many spikes that clog the airwaves.

It's really not much more advanced than your standard iOS offering, but as part of a wider minigame package it's a very welcome inclusion.



Metroid Blast

Players: 1-5

You'll want to get the nunchuks (remember them?) out for this one. Up to four players can strap on their Samus gear for some classic third-person shooting action, while the GamePad user gets to play overwatch from a Gunship up above.

The co-operative campaign is surprisingly hefty, consisting of numerous missions and even the odd boss battle. Inevitably the troops on the ground have a tougher time of it, but the Gunship can bring defeated players back from Zero-Suit purgatory by waiting until enemies are in their general location and shooting them down to generate a revival icon.

Intra-squad bickering can be sorted out in one of the two competitive modes. Land v Air pits the Samuses (or whatever the plural for Samus is) against the Gunship, and is surprisingly well balanced considering. The ground battle on the other hand is a straight-up Deathmatch between the Samuses/Samusi/Samu.

It's rather vanilla by modern-day standards of course, but if you're looking to get your grandma hooked on Halo 4, we can't think of a better gateway drug.



Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest

Players: 1-5

Of course, sometimes 'asymmetrical gameplay' means 'one player is having a lot more fun than the others'. Battle Quest is a classic example of this.

If you've got the GamePad in your hands when Battle Quest starts, then feel free to hold it aloft and shout 'Der-der-der-duuuuuh!' - because you're going to enjoy what's going to follow much more than everyone else in the room.

The GamePad player is equipped with a bow and arrow, which he or she aims by holding the screen aloft in the air and pointing to where they want to aim. Reloading it is achieved by quickly tilting the Pad into a horizontal position. After a few teething problems it becomes second-nature. If this doesn't become the aiming mechanism of choice in the next fully-fledged Zelda game, we'll eat a Goron's jockstrap.

Oh, all those other Links left holding the Motionplus controllers? They get to wave them around unconvincingly like swords. It's perfectly all right, like. But just can't hold a candle to wielding that bow and arrow.



Yoshi's Fruit Cart

Players: 1

If we're honest, this one reminded us of the shallow offerings that used to pass muster when the DS was in its infancy. The idea is to steer Yoshi's Fruit Cart to the goal, collecting all the onscreen fruit in the process.

You do this by tracing a path on the touchscreen, but - oh no! - the fruit, hazards and other such clutter aren't represented on the touchscreen, meaning you have to study both screens and make approximations based on the backdrop imagery (which begins to move dynamically once you get past the opening few screens).

As puzzle games go, it's perfectly enjoyable, but why do we have to go back to the beginning each time? This is a problem in several of the single-player games, actually, but it's never more frustrating than it is here. It's just not worth the time investment it asks from you.


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