Join The Club?
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.
Nintendo has spouted praise about the HD graphics overhaul with Wii Sports Club , but it’s certainly not the title they would put on display for their argument that the Wii U is a next-gen console. Yes, the lines are clean and smooth, the draw distance (for golf at least) gives a nice grandeur to the vistas, and the lighting effects are nicely updated, but the franchise has always prided itself on being simple and inviting to a mass audience, and it is no different this time around. The sound follows suit, being pleasant and unintrusive throughout, with a mild digital audience cheering you on. You’ll never annoy family member in the house with Wii Sports Club playing in the background.
The most substantial gripe I have with Wii Sports Club is the price point. After the twenty-four hour trial period, you have two options: a day pass or a club pass. The day pass is ideal for the casual crowd who may have a gathering planned (either locally, online, or both) and want a little light gaming. For a day you can play all the sports for $1.99. The club pass gives you unlimited play for $9.99. But wait, that’s only for a single sport. So after baseball and boxing are released, Wii Sports Club will set you back fifty dollars to access everything. There are plenty of things wrong with this. First, none of the new features, not even the online matches, merit that kind of monetary donation. Second, chances are you already have Wii Sports in your library, and since the Wii U is backwards compatible, you can simply load up your Wii copy and get your fix if you don’t care about the online features. Since casual gamers (to whom this game caters) could care less about online leaderboards, it seems like a feature that is contradictory to the game’s emphasis. The club pass should be three dollars per sport, making a total of fifteen smackers for the whole kit and caboodle. I think that is a satisfactory price point for a rudimentary upgrade to a seven-year-old title.
Although only an opinion, I believe Wii Sports Club is an attempt by Nintendo to rake in a few extra holiday dollars at a minimal production cost. The Wii Sports franchise still has appeal to the casual gamer, but I don’t feel the online features will entice many of them to purchase Wii Sports Club , nor do I think the price point is low enough to have the rest of us digging into our already cash-strapped wallets and purses just to post our victories in the Miiverse. Drop the price-per-sport, and add some of the more enjoyable events from Wii Sports Resort , and I may be persuaded to give Wii Sports Club another glance.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.0 Graphics
Yes they are in high-definitions with nice colors and smooth effects, but they certainly aren’t anything groundbreaking. 3.7 Control
The motion controls are as tight as ever, to the point that both core and casual gamers will need some solid practice time before hitting the pro level. 3.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Light and jovial, the music and effects are almost exactly as you remember them from the original, which means few improvements have been made. 2.8 Play Value
Online matches and social integration are welcome additions, but the package price is far too steep to recommend. 3.2 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend|
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid||2.5 – 2.9 = Average||3.5 – 3.9 = Good||4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy|
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor||3.0 – 3.4 = Fair||4.0 – 4.4 = Great||5.0 = The Best|