|System: Wii U|
|Dev: Namco Bandai|
|Release: November 7, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Sean Engemann
Wii Sports was a phenomenon, and nobody can dispute that. Selling over 80 million copies, no other game even comes close. It single-handedly ushered the casual gamer into the world of video game consoles, broadening the spectrum of gamers to include middle-age non-gamers and even the elderly. It is the reason the Nintendo Wii was a commercial success. One might think with the Wii being put out to pasture and Nintendo's push to entice hardcore gamers with the Wii U, the Wii Sports brand would fade away as well. However, the big boys at Nintendo had other ideas. With the holidays here and family crowding together, what better time could there be to update the classic title and add some new features. However, after my time with Wii Sports Club, I am not convinced it will have anywhere near the stamina that the original title had.
A completely digital offering, Wii Sports Club has opted to deliver one slice of sports gaming at a time. Tennis and bowling kicked things off, with golf just recently added. Boxing and baseball will be added soon, but with trio available now, I was able to get a solid sense of what the game offered, and what it's lacking. Let's delve into each sport individually.
Tennis was always the party favorite for anyone looking for a little family competition and light-hearted taunting. Swinging the Wii Remote to make contact with the ball was about as simple as it came in terms of the learning curve. Success usually depended on the response time of swinging your racket, or flicking your wrist as was the case in the original game. Unlike bowling and golf, both of which made an appearance in Wii Sports Resort, the updated tennis in Wii Sports Club is the first time we've hit the court with the Wii Motion Plus technology. If you expect to break out the wrist flick this time, you're in trouble. The game takes much more movement into consideration, and requires retraining yourself if you want any chance of winning. Each sport has a trio of training exercises that will hone your skills, with the tennis offerings focusing on ball placement. They don't require much effort, but whacking the ball through rings and knocking out moles is still fun, and with an online leaderboard, now there are competing scores to beat.
Bowling is the ultimate casual game, and great for a group of four who enjoy sitting around and chatting while doing a little gaming. The modes from Wii Sports Resort are all present, with 10-pin, 100-pin, and Spin Control all at your disposal. The training exercises offer a few more choices, such as picking up spares with multipliers dispersed in the lane, knocking down pins lined up in unorthodox patterns, and 100-pin bowling with the pins placed in various shapes such as a heart and a flag. However, none of these new modes kept me interested for very long, and I would have preferred a quicker alternative rather than the drawn out modes presented.
Golf, again, is very similar to Wii Sports Resort in terms of the gameplay, but includes a fresh array of eighteen holes to play on. The training modes in golf were the most enjoyable of the bunch, with each of the three focusing on a particular shot – driving, chipping, and putting. Chip-In Bingo was the one I came back to several times, trying to chip my ball onto the bingo board transposed onto the green and scoring the highest bingo line possible. One of the new features that utilizes the GamePad is placing the controller on the floor and having the ball displayed on the GamePad screen. Now, I abhor using the word "gimmick", and even wrote an article back in January about my detest for the word, but even I have to break in this instance. While you can adjust the face of your club and view the power gauge at your feet, this has little if any impact on your shot.
The biggest new feature of Wii Sports Club is undoubtedly the online mode, and all the extras that come along with it. One of the first things you'll do is choose a club to join. These are regional clubs, distinguished by States, Provinces, and countries outside of North America. However, you have the freedom to choose your club, and can switch clubs after 24 hours of your initial choice. I was pleased that I was able to join my fellow Canadians in the Ontario Club, even though I live in the U.S. now. Various statistics for each sport are showcased, and your club's ranking can be quickly examined. You can also write and read tips from other club members, and post your efforts in the Miiverse. The integration of Nintendo's social forum is exceptionally well done, and the game handles all the screen swaps for posting a new message automatically, as well as showcasing posts both in the menus and during gameplay.
Of course, the pressure is also on for you to perform well for you Club, with online matches becoming a lot more gripping than the casual family games of the past. The mechanics may be simple, but skill in each sporting event is still required for you to be awarded bragging rights, and being hoisted up high by other Club members. I unfortunately had far too many matches where either my own connection or the opposing player's was lost, which nullifies any progress. Building up your level also rewards you with stamps for posting on the Miiverse, which have become an endearing fad for those of us lacking in artistic skill.