A free game? Where do Wii sign up?!?!.
Games shipped with systems at launch is a practice that has all but died out, but Nintendo resurrected this tradition by including the five-game Wii Sports with it’s Wiis. Wii Sports, which includes Golf, Bowling, Tennis, Boxing, and Baseball, runs the gamut from simple distractions to clever Wii-experiences. We’ll break each game down, give them their own score, and score the whole bundle at the end.
Tennis exemplifies both the Wii-mote’s strengths and weaknesses at the same time. The game supports up to four players and places them on a grass court. Swinging the racket with the Wii wand is a simple action, but there are times where your character will swing in a way you didn’t intend. Players with exaggerated movements will be the victims of this “double-swing” most often. When the wand breaks the plane parallel to the television, it swings on that side of your body regardless of whether or not that is your actual swing. Aiming your hits is based on when you swing. Game after game, multiple volleys taking over two or three minutes kept us coming back for more. Our only real complaint is the inability to actually control your character. There were too many times that we simply couldn’t reach a shot because the characters move too slowly
Wii Baseball is akin to an old game from my childhood – wiffleball. The rules are actually very similar in fact. Players each take turns as pitcher and batter for three innings trying to score as many runs as possible. Batting is a simple swinging motion with the wand, whereas pitching is an equally simple motion of motioning the wand in a pitching motion. Pitching was both fun and incredibly easy and scores during our review time were all very low. Players should watch out for little glitches in the pitching, however. There were a few times that our character threw a pitch while we were still selecting our location and getting ready. These were isolated incidents, but each run netted base hits. This game would have gotten a perfect score if there were more options in the number of innings, but it’s a blast nonetheless.
This was the one and only Wii Sport event that made us glad it lasted only three rounds. The idea behind it is great; take the nun-chuck and wand and motion to box, pummeling your friend standing right next to you. In practice, however, the controls are clumsy and unresponsive. Dodging punches and shifting your character’s position is easy enough (holding the controller close to your body and leaning your whole body) but the actual act of punching is much too difficult. The game doesn’t accurately distinguish between high and low punches, and strong blows pop up out of nowhere. Eventually, when you realize trying to strategize and think your match out is pointless, you’ll just start swinging away. This game is easily the weakest of the five.
Unfortunately for links fans, Wii Golf is just as inconsistent and unresponsive as boxing. Swinging the club for a normal shot is more difficult than it has to be. We actually never came to understand the sensor mechanic of the swing itself. For a while, we thought it was the velocity of the sensor as it passed where the “ball” would be in real life, but we were proven wrong on our approach shot. Why would you force players to hit less than full strength by making their shots slice and hook when they hit it hard? Selecting the right power level for each shot is nearly impossible and shooting scores is a guarantee for nearly everyone.
Ah, if the only thing that was included in this package was the Bowling game, we would have been more than happy. With such a simple game as bowling, all Nintendo had to do was capture the motion of rolling a ball down the lane and the mechanics of placing spin as it travels down the lane, and they struck the nail right on the head. Approaching the line with B, players release the ball at the correct time by releasing the B button and rotating the controller as necessary to generate spin. Throwing up my 190 average in real life against my friends on the Wii was incredibly easy, but what was more impressive was just how well the flaws in my real game popped up in the game. Bowling is such a great representation of real bowling that it should come complete with a strap-on beer gut and a wrist guard.
Taking a look at the overall package, Wii Sports is an addictive interactive game that virtually anyone can pick up and play. Wii Bowling overshadows the rest of the four other games because it offers exactly what you want from the Wii – an interactive virtual simulation of the real life activity. When you turn the controller, your ball has spin when it leaves your hand. We grabbed everyone we could to play Wii Sports with us, including a brief baseball game against the pizza guy who delivered a couple days ago. Hardcore and non-gamers alike can all become proficient at most of these games in no time, with only Boxing and Golf giving us grief. For a free game that’s included with the system, we couldn’t be happier. We hope that Nintendo expands on the Bowling, Baseball, and Tennis games and tweaks Golf for future releases because they have a real winner on their hands.
May 15, 2006 – Baseball, Golf and Tennis have been video game staples of the sports genre for years now and with each subsequent release, publishers like EA and 2K Games attempt to evolve the respective genres with a little more visual realism, a little control tweak here etc. Nintendo is taking a decidely different approach and suggesting that you don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle. In this case, the sizzle translates into the sense of entertainment Nintendo is hoping you desire by playing these games on their new Wii system.
Demoed at the Nintendo press conference, the world was able to see Wii Sports Tennis played in realtime with 3 players and one gaming legend on stage. Holding the wii-mote like an actual tennis racket, 4 players were able to serve and volley back and forth, simply by moving the wii-mote in the air, while the motion-sensing technology did the rest. Players don’t have to jockey for position, as their onscreen counterparts are always in the right spot, but they will have to swing the wii-mote at the right time to make the shot. While it looked like fun, many of us wondered how long the honeymoon of the new technology would last – would playing Wii Tennis with a group of 4 non-gamers translate into an entire evening of fun, or would it simply be a novelty for 30 minutes? That will be entirely up to whom you play with.
The game is extremely easy to pick up and play, although it will take grandma and grandpa awhile before they realize they’re responsible for swinging the racket when the ball comes to their character. We imagine that will be some of the fun; people becoming entirely confused as to what character they are since you’re all standing on the same side of the room. If after 20 minutes the people you are playing with still don’t get it, time to start yawning and close up shop, making sure to get up bright and early the next day to locate some better, smarter, friends and/or family.
While Wii Tennis doesn’t nearly come close to the technical brilliance of Visual Concepts Top Spin series, in all fairness it isn’t trying to. Think of it like the next iteration of Pong; that hits the nail squarely on the head.
Wii Golf will either delight or annoy you. You use the wii-mote as a golf club (first you must select whether you’re a righty or a lefty) and the game does an absolutely admirable job of capturing your swing motion and speed while you swing the wii-mote as a club and then translates that into how far your ball will go. You will still have to use the analog stick to direct the path of your ball. Unfortunately the wii-mote isn’t a golf club and it’s a little awkward to the get the hang of as the weight and feel of a club just simply isn’t there. Naturally if you’re a good golfer, playing Wii-Golf might be a more satisfying experience. We didn’t have much time to tinker with it due to the heavy time restraints but it definitely has potential. We personally think Golf might be the more aptly gravitated toward “party game” on the Wii Sports list as standing around, having a beer while your friends tee-off is what makes life great.
Only the batting system was on demo at E3, which either means the game will just be about batting or we haven’t seen the pitching, fielding aspect yet. We suspect the latter as you can’t call the sport “Baseball” if it’s just about swinging a bat and we can imagine all sorts of cool pitches and catches you might be able to do with the motion-sensing technology.
In the E3 demo, you were given 10 pitches to try and return. The first few were giveaways as they were slow and quite easy to nail, but they became increasingly trickier and faster. Naturally the Wii translated the speed of our swing into how far to send the ball flying. It doesn’t appear that the vertical position of where you hold the bat (wii-mote) comes into play, but there is a lot of time between now and launch to tweak.
Fly a plane using the wii-mote, but was the hardest demo out of the four we played. Flying through rings wasn’t nearly as easy at it looked, primarily due to the touchiness between the wii-mote motion-sensoring and the game. The game very much reminded us very much of a new-fangled Pilot Wings. We loved the original and the sequel on the N64 and we say it’s about time for another in the series! Nothiing earth-shattering but a little sampling of perhaps something to come down the line.
All of the games featured non-threatening cartoony characters in created for absolute mass appeal. The visuals weren’t exciting or taxing on the hardware for that matter, although every game was running at a glossy 60 FPS we were told.
If Nintendo packages this one with the system at launch – which they’ve been doing with their special DS bundles, it could be just the game to get all of those non-gamers who don’t give a hoot about a place named Hyrule and a kid named Link, to part with their cash.