Nintendo Land, during the E3 presentation, looked like a weak collection of mini-games slopped over a bunch of Nintendo characters. It looked like the abuse of franchises in order to make a few bucks and successfully launch a console.
After seeing it in motion, hearing about it from Nintendo execs and playing bits of it for myself, I can safely say that Nintendo did not do a good job representing the product when the world was watching on Tuesday morning.
I feel like I'm hinting at Nintendo's big problem for this year's E3. They have too much to talk about and explain, and explaining concepts kills the hype and momentum new games can bring. That much is plain and simple, and I genuinely think that Nintendo fell victim to that problem throughout each of their three presentations.
And that's a crying shame. Nintendo Land is special. It's a collection of experiences, each with a lot more depth than simplistic mini games.
I was invited to a behind-closed-doors session in order to hear Katsuya Eguchi discuss the project.
Zelda: Battle Quest
Battle Quest is an on-rails game that puts players against rag doll-esque opponents in the Zelda universe. At first glance, it's a mini-game that let's one player use the GamePad to aim and fire arrows, while extra players will use the Wii Remotes to hack and slash their foes.
The GamePad feels great, even the bits where players have to twist and turn in order to aim. The swordplay works almost exactly like it did in Skyward Sword. Again, on the surface it feels like a nice, well executed mini-game.
According to Eguchi, however, it goes much deeper than that. There are a whole slew of levels to complete, and each mission will bring players closer to their ultimate victory.
The core concept of Nintendo Land is that it isn't what it seems.
And there it is, Zelda: Battle Quest is a perfect example of what's wrong with the way Nintendo presented Nintendo Land. At face value, it's nothing more than a diversion; or, perhaps, Wii Sports in Link's clothing.
After hearing that players will actually have a lot of challenging gameplay in front of them for Battle Quest, it becomes more than a mini game. It's suddenly an experience worth diving into.
With the theme park dressing, the raining confetti and the appearance of the Mii, however, Nintendo Land can't be perceived as anything more than another tech demo. That's a problem for the Big N, and hopefully it's one this game will overcome for good.
Everything in Nintendo Land's theme park area is earned by players. Completing stages earns coins, and players can use those coins to unlock interactive statues and extra goodies. Some of the goodies are more than just physical totems.
Yep, that's right, the F-Zero car statue within Nintendo Land represents more than just a neat do-dad. Eguchi unveiled that F-Zero will have its own attraction in Nintendo Land, and that's something players have been dying for. If it has the same depth as the other attractions, that's an awesome gift. And it also stands to demonstrate what Nintendo Land is: a collection of more-than-mini-games based on Nintendo's best franchises.
The Miiverse, Nintendo's serious.
Nintendo Land also serves as a perfect introduction to the Miiverse. The park's open area is actually populated with real Mii's. Their movements aren't in real time, but they do tend to flock towards the attractions their real player's regularly visit.
Eguchi explained that he wants players to be able to make friends with other gamers who share similar interests. Those friendships, in turn, will be more genuine.
Nintendo's serious about Nintendo Land. As Mr. Eguchi explained, the company wouldn't put the Nintendo name in front of their product if they weren't serious about it. They're risking a lot when they through their brand on the nameplate of anything.
There's also a chance that the company will bundle it with the Wii U at launch. Here's hoping.