Back in June, Nintendo held a Wii U preview event for the press where I played a couple of the mini-games included in the launch title Nintendo Land. And at this most recent press conference, I played a few more. The big one was the Metroid Blast attraction, but I also played the Pikmin Adventure and Balloon Trip Breeze. And being that Nintendo Land is meant to be the Wii Sports showcase game that shows you what the Wii U is capable of, and will be bundled in with the Deluxe Edition of the console, it's a good thing that every single mini-game I've played so far has been a ridiculous amount of fun!
The first one I tried was Balloon Trip Breeze, an update of the classic NES Balloon Fight. This time, though, you'll use the stylus on the GamePad touch screen to create gusts of wind to steer yourself around the screen, collecting balloons and bonuses while avoiding enemies and spikes. Like all good games, it's easy to get a handle on the controls, but becomes challenging as you deal with wind, rain, and more and more obstacles in your way.
You move from platform to platform, and sometimes can use a hook to carry a crate hanging below you. You get a bonus if you deliver it to the next platform safely, but you have to compensate for the extra weight. I had no trouble with the first one, but the second one I tried fell into the ocean because the weather was simply too overpowering and I couldn't manage. Also, you can land anywhere on the platform, but landing on the top tier of the three-tiered platform will grant you extra bonus points.
You can also see yourself on the touch screen, and can pop balloons or stun enemies with the stylus, but the view on the GamePad is so tight that it's not actually that helpful. At least, not to me! It was easier to just navigate while watching the TV. I know it sounds like a simple little mini-game, but Balloon Trip Breeze was really fun and I didn't want to stop playing! (I had to, though, because it got too hard and I lost my last life!)
Next, I played Pikmin Adventure, where one player uses the GamePad to control Captain Olimar, while up to four others play as giant Pikmin (actually your Mii in a Pikmin costume), with the ultimate goal being to make it through the level, defeating all the enemies and the boss, and escape in your spaceship. It's more action-oriented than the usual Pikmin strategy gameplay, with everyone running around bashing blocks and enemies.
First, I used the Wiimote to play as a Pikmin, and it was a lot of fun. The only thing is that Captain Olimar can summon the Pikmin to him and throw them on top of obstacles or enemies. This is helpful, because then you can pound on a large enemy without being in danger, but it's also a little bit annoying when you're trying to do something and suddenly float away to land on Captain Olimar's head. Later, I played with the Gamepad, and tried not to be as annoying with the summoning, only doing it when absolutely necessary. Otherwise, I just pressed A to send my Pikmin to attack. There's no worrying about different colors or anything here, it's just frantic action. Oh, and hilariously, when an enemy gets hold of you, they swallow you and spit you out as a giant piece of poo. You can run around, but can't do anything until someone else hits you to break you out!
Then there were two separate demos of Metroid Blast, which is looking more like an actual game instead of a mini-game included in a collection. The first demo I played was Surface To Air Mode, where the person with the GamePad controls a ship that flies around while two other players (though there can be up to four) run around on the ground, and it's up to each side to take the other out first. There's a practice section first so you can learn the controls, which is really helpful for the ship, because it's a little complicated. Also, because playing games with gyroscope controls is still relatively new, I kept forgetting to tilt the GamePad to aim, and instead mostly used the analog sticks to steer around. (I also kept forgetting to zoom in on my target with the left trigger, but hey it's a demo, you're not meant to be skilled with all the controls yet!)
The other mode was Assault Mode, where the ship and the ground soldiers team up against wave after wave of enemies. The thing I learned early on is that you have to be careful of friendly fire. The missiles and bombs have a very wide blast radius, and you need to watch out that you don't get caught in it! There's multiple levels, arenas and enemies to choose from, and you can play this one single-player. Although obviously it's fun to play with other people.
I'm glad to see more single player games in Nintendo Land, because honestly, that's the thing that concerns me the most about it. It's an ideal pack in (in the Deluxe Edition) because it does showcase the Asymmetrical Gameplay that Nintendo is pushing, and shows off some unique ways the GamePad can be used in games. But at the same time, how often is someone going to have two or three other people over to play games? I know I don't do that very often. Although maybe after I get a Wii U, I'll start?