Nintendo Land (1)

Genre: Party
Year: 2012
Developed by: Nintendo EAD
Published by: Nintendo
Platforms: Wii U
Feeling Like: A kid’s birthday party

You’re going to have to get used to me saying that the Wii U had potential.

It did.

Not only was it Nintendo’s first console to display High Definition, but it was also the first console ever to have a tablet as its main controller. Initially, I was excited about the prospect; would Nintendo create the first great video game iteration of Dungeons & Dragons? What better tool for a Dungeon Master than a private touch screen, not too big to be overly cumbersome, but big enough to drag and drop monsters, create new pathways and add stats to intrepid warriors?

Penny Arcade said it best. 

It was these kinds of blockbuster ideas that never came to fruition, and the console would end up being among Nintendo’s least successful endeavors. The entirely stupid  “Wii U” name didn’t help either.

But that doesn’t mean it was totally bereft of fun.

Nintendo Land (2)
Quite the opposite.

At first it was little more than an oddity to try with friends. Nintendo Land has a number of single player offerings, but I barely tried any of them. It is truly a party game at its core, and it wasn’t difficult to convince half drunk friends to give it a try. Most were impressed by the unique use of the tablet versus using the Wiimotes, but not once did I sense the transcendent magic of the Wii. This was no Wii Sports.

What we did have, however, was an enthusiastic duo in Kyla’s nephew and niece, ages 9 and 4 respectively. Little did I know these two would be more fun to play with than any inebriated university roommates.

They had no interest in doing anything but running away from me in the Candy game and the Ghost game. This is contrary to real life family hangouts, where I become Uncle Henry the Jungle Gym. Their relentless energy and gleeful shrieks were hysterical, and even if I held back, the anticipation of where Henry could be was enough to get everybody into giggling fits.

Nintendo Land (3)
Ghost reporting!

It’s odd that I have Nintendo Land this high on the list and I struggled to write much about it. It’s so peculiar – I ranked the 500 years ago now, and I’m finding even a few years later, I’m having to re-list as memories fade, Youtube reviews are watched and reflections are had. Why is Nintendo Land so high? It’s nothing crazy game wise. It’s very clearly a tech demo for the Wii U. One could argue it’s just a playable commercial for the gamepad.


A few parties here and there, a few small gatherings to share something new and all of a sudden Nintendo Land was at spot 359 and I couldn’t justify putting it any lower. It’s not as if 359 is a hallowed place on the list, but it certainly is telling that a collection of tiny, shallow mini-games can beat out the likes of other, classic video games because of the social and family interactions it allowed me to have.

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