Nintendo knows the value of turning a tutorial into something more game than instruction. Wii Sports, a collection of mini-games created to essentially familiarize new Wii owners with motion gaming, became a system seller.
While Nintendo reps declined to tell Polygon if Nintendo Land will be a game included with the Wii U, time spent with the game made it clear that it too artfully familiarizes gamers with a new way to game, and does so in a way that could convert new fans.
Nintendo Land is a virtual Nintendo theme park for your Mii, Nintendo reps told Polygon during a recent demo of the game.
The virtual theme park has a dozen attractions, each based on a particular Nintedo game.
While the concept behind Nintendo Land is to introduce gamers to the functions of the GamePad, like Wii Sports, the experience feels much more robust than a simple tutorial or training title.
During our time with the game we were able to play three of the theme park's "settings".
The first was based on Mysterious Murasame Castle, a title released on the Famicom Disk System in 1986.
The game takes place on the grounds of a colorful Japanese feudal castle. Players hold the Wii U GamePad sideways and quickly slide their finger toward the television to shoot throwing stars at colorful ninja that look as if they're made of paper.
The longer the stroke the harder you throw the star. Tilting the GamePad changes the angle of the star you throw, making it easier to throw at Ninja blocked by objects.
In the level we played through, the ninja attacked in waves. Blue ninja required one star to kill. Pink ninja required two hits. Yellow ninja attacked with bombs and the level wrapped up with a boss fight against a ninja in black who attacked with a sword.
The second setting we played was a level based on the Legend of Zelda. In this game, players use the Wii remote to control Mii armed with swords as they fight their way along an on-the-rails trip through a Zelda setting. The player using the GamePad controls a Mii in the back of the group armed with a bow and arrow. Players can use the GamePad's screen to look around the area as they travel through the game, aiming at enemies and then pulling back on the right thumbstick and releasing to fire shots. Holding the thumbstick back charges a shot. Once a player runs out of arrows they need to hold the GamePad level with the ground to reload their quiver.
The game's enemies and setting looks as if they're made of stitched fabric. The object of the game is for the archer to survive the level with the game's six hearts by protecting the swordsmen and yourself.
The final of the three settings was based on Donkey Kong.
Donkey Kong's Crash Course has players guiding a rickety wooden cart along a massive multi-screen roller coaster.
When the game kicks off, the television pans around the maze-like course showing the looping intricacies of the track, the bananas you need to collect and the end of the maze which features Donkey Kong and Pauline.
At first glance the course has an almost Rube Goldberg machine quality.
To play, gamers watch the GamePad's screen, which offers a zoomed in view of the massive map, and tilt the controller left or right to move along the track. Moving too quickly or too slowly can cause the rickety cart to flip and break. As they travel along the track, players have to push shoulder buttons to flip, raise and lower sections of the track. Other parts of the track have to be rotated with the thumbstick.
The challenge is getting through the track and quickly as possible without crashing. Crash too many times and the game ends. There are a number of checkpoints spread throughout the track as well.
We managed to race our way through four of the track's ten checkpoints before ending the game.
All three of the settings we tried felt very replayable, they also seemed like the sorts of games that would be almost as fun to watch as they were to play.
Nintendo declined to say if the games would have more than one level each, but it looked like they would.