It seems that my trip to Nintendo Land would soon be coming to an end, as there was only one attraction left to visit during the event. So far, I’ve come away more impressed than I was beforehand, not only with the quality of each mini game, but the manner in which each game integrated the Gamepad into the experience. One by one, they all offered important (not gimmicky) functionality to them, and they were all simple to use, yet provided an appropriate amount of depth depending on feature. With Metroid Blast, the gyroscopic aspects of the Gamepad come into play.
To go over the controls first, lets start with the Wiimote and Nunchuk control scheme. Running around is controlled by the analog stick on the Nunchuk, with the Wiimote aiming around the screen. Holding A allows the player to aim and turn, rotating the camera around accordingly, while B was used to fire at enemies, and can be held down to fire a more powerful shot. Holding Z on the Nunchuk allows the player to roll into a ball. On the Gamepad, gyroscopic controls are used to aim at players or enemies while flying around in a miniature version of Samus’ ship, the SR388. The action for the Gamepad’s character is exclusive to the pad screen as well. The ZL and ZR triggers are used to ascend and descend, including its own set of firing buttons.
Two game modes were available to demo for Metroid Blast – the first was a two-on-one affair that had two Mii players dressed in Samus’ battlesuit taking on the Gamepad player piloting the Mini SR388. The ground-based character team has three units of health, while the Gamepad player has about double that in terms of balance. Each successful hit takes one unit of health off, so you have to be careful, no matter which side you’re on. More or less, it’s up to ground to take the ship down or vice versa, with the Gamepad user having the advantage of higher ground whenever they please, and the ground based players have the advantage of being able to maneuver around in several different manners. Traditional on-foot travel is there, not to mention specific floating targets that can be used to grapple and pull players towards it and to another portion of the map. In addition, there are specific points in which rolling into a ball can pop you to another designated area.
The other mode available was more or less a “Horde mode” variant. In this mode, a single player played cooperatively with one on a Gamepad, as they both assumed the same type of controls that were explained above. After several waves are cleared, the entire team wins. Health drops are available from enemies every so often, so there’s no real fear of being too low on health most of the time. Both of these modes have their moments of fun, though the horde mode variant was a bit more of a thrill, despite sounding a bit on the easy side.
The only setback I could see with Metroid Blast is the somewhat cumbersome feel of the gyroscopic controls at first. If anything, this title seems like it would be the next step up in terms of easing new players into gyroscopic controls, after the very first step of even getting used to the controller (which hopefully happens with one of the eight mini games that were not available to demo at the event). It is by no means something that detracts from the overall controls, but it does feel a bit more difficult to become accustomed to right out of the gate. Once you get the hang of it though, Metroid Blast seems like it will be yet another attraction worth visiting.
From all four of the attractions that I was able to sample, it seems as if Nintendo Land is putting forth quite a bit of effort with each mini game on display. Not only did each of the four games (including this) I played show off some radical Gamepad functionality, it did so with enough ease for the most part that anyone in the family will be able to pick up a Gamepad and get started without much hassle. The quality of each game surprised me, and I was pleased that each one felt appropriate, not entirely like the tech demo feel of Wii Sports. To sum things up, I came into Nintendo Land unsure as to whether I was going to ride the tea cups the whole time, and ended up riding the Cyclone each time.