Nintendo had a few games from Nintendo Land on display today at their Wii U debut event. Metroid Blast was far and away the most robust of the bunch. Metroid Blast is a surprisingly full experience with a few interesting mode, many different levels, and a nice dose of strategy.
The first mode I got to play was called surface to air. In this mode, up to four players control Samus Miis using Wii-motes while the player with the Gamepad uses Samus’ gunship. Samus Miis move using the nunchuck’s analog stick, aim with the Wii-mote, and fire by holding A and pressing B. A quick flick of the Wii-mote can be used to dodge and players can charge their blasters to fire off a bomb. The C-button activates morph ball mode. The Samus Miis form a team to take down the gunship.
Playing as the gunship is a bit more complex. The left analog stick is used to move forward or in reverse or to strafe. The second analog stick is used to control elevation or to turn. The L button is used to zoom in and the R button is used to fire. Charging your shots will enable you to fire missiles which are perfect for taking out enemies who are in cover.
Metroid Prime is a typical deathmatch experience, with a few wrinkles to the typical formula. There are warp pads, grapple points, obstacles, and power ups strewn about. These elements make the proceedings more interesting, but the main hook of surface to air is the assymetrical gameplay. Your experience will completely change whether you’re using the gunship or Samus. The Gunship has superior range, is more maneuverable, and has access to powerful missiles, but is easy to spot, and can’t take cover. The Samus Miis are less agile and their bombs are relatively useless, but their are several of them, and it’s easier for them to hop into and out of covers. In my experience, the Samus Miis usually ended up victorious, but as certain people learned to use the gunship more efficiently the tides turned. Learning to make the most of your moves is crucial, and even in my brief playtime I could see some strategies developing. On a side note, if you notice one side or another is constantly winning, you can adjust the health of one side to balance things out.
I also got to try out Assault Mode. Assault Mode is a horde style minigame. You can play this game as a single player game or as a team using a combination of the Gamepad and up to four Wiimote/Nunchucks. Together with your teammates, you’ll be faced with waves of enemies that must be annhailated. Smart teamwork can work wonders. For example, as shown in the stage demo, a Samus player can grapple onto the gunship to fly around the stage and rain death around their enemies. In my time with this mode, I encountered several different enemies who required different tactics to overcome. Some enemies could be tackled head on, others had to be blasted with bombs, and others only exposed their weak points at certain moments.
With many missions and levels to play on, Metroid Blast has way more depth than your average minigame. It’s a fun example of an asymmetric game, and it’s a great introductory shooter to boot. If Nintendo Land has a few more games like Metroid Blast on Nintendo Land, it may be a title that can appeal to casual and hardcore gamers alike.