Periodically the calls went out for Nintendo to build an actual theme park. Like Disneyland, fans craved a magical environment where Mario, Link, and Donkey Kong became incarnate creatures inhabiting the open spaces between roller coasters and gift shops. For its forthcoming Wii U console Nintendo has finally created its own theme park, though it will exist as a series of virtual play room within the Wii U system and not as a real physical space.
Not unlike Sony’s Home service, NintendoLand is a glimmering nostalgia space where players can wander through a hub park and choose to play a handful of smaller games pulled largely from Nintendo’s franchises. In one game set in the Animal Crossing world, players will run around a village space collecting candy. As a player collects more candy their head grows and they start running more slowly.
In another Donkey Kong themed game, players tilt the Wii U control to roll a Donkey Kong barrel through a massive, vertical obstacle course. There will also be a Luigi’s Mansion game, and a Zelda action title.
As people continue to invest in making games as complex photorealistic story spaces, Nintendoland shows the company enshrining its games as part of a collective escapist fabric. In years past, our escapist delights were centered into magically separate spaces of amusements parks with their concentration of whooshing thrill rides. Increasingly, we escape in imaginary interactive spaces where a company’s characters become surreal guides through a perpetually variating sequence of simple moments which, not unlike rollercoasters, are more memorable for their enlivening emotions than as a linear sequence of story events.