Version tested: Wii
Wii Play may go down in history as one of the best-selling console games of all time, but it feels a bit like the video game equivalent of a drugs cheat. The millions who snapped it up probably werenít exclusively drawn to it by the prospect of some middling mini-games, after all: the bundle was also a smart means of grabbing an extra controller for that quirky new console that had its whole life ahead of it.
Wii Play Motion seems like a straight sequel, then, yet itís actually got very little in common with the first game. The Remote Plus that comes as a pack-in is glossy and red and thoroughly beautiful, but itís for use on a console that has all but run its course. Balancing that, however, is the fact that the mini-games are a little better this time around. If they have to serve as the main lure for this package, there are at least a couple of quiet classics in there.
The best of the collectionís 12 offerings is probably Spooky Search. Itís also that rare game that really shows off the MotionPlus difference - in this case, via the console's ability to keep track of the controllerís positioning when itís not pointed directly at the sensor bar.
Weíre deep in Luigiís Mansion territory and there are ghouls to be caught. With guidance from a group of Miis on the TV screen, you move the remote around your living room, while an alarm tells you when youíre locked onto a spectral target. After that, itís time to reel the ghost in, pulling it back onto the telly and sucking it into a spectral victrola funnel.
It may be a simple Halloween spin on fishing, but itís atmospheric stuff, particularly when youíre playing co-op with friends, all chipping in to tether the angrier ghosts. The haunted house backdrops are filled with loving detail and itís genuinely creepy to watch your Miis being abducted if youíre not in full Venkman mode quick enough. Beyond that, the Geiger counter sound design gives you all the fun of exploring an irradiated environment with none of the ensuing skin sores, hair or tooth loss, or cancerous tumours. Win.
Cone Zone is another strong inclusion, a spin on the mobile phone classic Tower Bloxx, in which you have to hold your remote upright - itís a stand-in for your waffle cone - as a Godzilla-sized scoop piles on blobs of ice cream. Keep the cone steady and youíve got a decent leaderboard game, and one that really plays on the MotionPlusí added sensitivity. Thereís a neat bonus mode too Ė many of the mini-games come with cheeky variants Ė that sees you collecting swirled ice cream by tilting the remote in gentle circles. Itís far harder than it sounds.
Speaking of the trickier offerings, Star Shuttle is probably the most challenging game on the disc. Your remote becomes a rocket ship carrying components that must be docked with a space station. The controllerís buttons moderate thrust, different loads carry different connection points, and there are various obstacles for you to duck as you hone in on your target.
Itís hard but rarely infuriating, and itís a great example of MotionPlusí one-to-one tracking. (Itís also the only Nintendo game Iíve ever seen that shows clear signs of having been inspired by Elite. Hopefully the developers are hooked now, and the next Animal Crossing will allow you to become a slave trader.)
Pose Mii Plus isnít bad either, even if itís rather familiar. Itís Hole in the Wall combined with the credit sequence of Dr Who as you move your Mii down a psychedelic tunnel, rotating its body in order to collect gems or ease it through differently-shaped slots. The controllerís presumably doing some clever stuff in your hand, but the gameís pretty generous in its interpretation of your movements and will lock you into place once you get into roughly the right area. Itís decent in single-player, but much better with a friend. You know, like conversation.
Treasure Twirl switches things around a little, and sees you turning the remote in your hand to send a diver to the bottom of the ocean on a hunt for pirateís hold, and then turning it the other way to bring him back to the surface again. Thereís tilt steering, which could be a little tighter, but is fine considering youíre meant to be underwater, alongside an air supply to take into account and a range of obstacles to avoid. Itís an inventive delight, and itís only a shame that the levels run out just as things are starting to get really interesting.
Moving from the bottom of the ocean to the surface, youíll find Skip Skimmer, a bucolic twist on Wii Sports Resortís Frisbee game, in which you bounce a pebble across a pond. I struggle to carry out this activity in real life, so Skip Skimmer gave me the brief novelty of being physically co-ordinated, but itís very basic, and success can feel a little random at first.
Thereís a score attack mode that sees you skimming through rings, and novelty stones to select from, including a frog pebble and a UFO that obligingly blasts back into space afterwards. But when you finally come to write your biography, I suspect youíre unlikely to remember your first encounter with Skip Skimmer as a pivotal moment in your life - unless you go on to accidentally kill a loved one as you wave the controller around.
After the rough sketch of Skip Skimmer, Jump Park is one of the more fully-realised games on offer, turning your Mii into the ball bearing in a pinball machine. Bounce off the walls, position yourself to control the angle of rebound, and collect gems before making it to the exit: itís fast, colourful, and filled with the prospect of hilarious Mii injury. Teeter Targets, meanwhile, is another take on the same basic idea, except you control the wooden flipper rather than the ball itself: itís precise enough but rather clinical.
Onto the home stretch, and Wind Runnerís worth a look, if only because it combines F-Zero track designs with Mary Poppins. Use your brolly to catch the wind as youíre blown around levels filled with ramps and collectables: itís not bad, and there are some nice alternate modes to unlock.
Itís a decent companion to Flutter Fly, too, a faintly knackering assault course challenge that has you flapping the controller to fan some balloons through hoops. Flutter Fly has plenty of levels for you to gust past, but itís mainly notable for the moments when you have to quickly point your remote at the screen to zap baddies: MotionPlus can still struggle awkwardly with swift movements.
Rounding things out are two sure-fire hits that turn out to be surprise stinkers. Veggie Guardiní is a clever reworking of whack-a-mole, which is great until you discover that the hectic speed of your hammering will often throw the controller into that weird fit where it reverses its sense of left and right, while Trigger Twist may sound like an early Soft Cell track, but is actually a shockingly naff shooting gallery.
UFOs, ninjas and dinosaurs are all provided for your blasting pleasure, but horrible aiming lag makes it feel like your cursor is sliding through thick paint, and thereís no reward for accuracy, meaning that itís tempting to just spam the screen. Equally, while shooting at bonus ducks might be a neat throwback to Nintendoís illustrious history, if you really like ducks - and you do, right? - itís kind of hard to blow them to pieces.
Wii Play Motionís not a bad package, then, but itís one that I went through with a slight sense of melancholy - and not just because my next-door neighbour decided to play some of the more tragic moments of the Ring Cycle through the wall while I was trying it out.
The MotionPlus feels like an artefact from a future that never quite turned up: an alternate reality in which we were given plenty of extremely precise Wii games to play with it. That, in case youíve just emerged from cryogenic stasis, didnít exactly happen, and so a sense of missed opportunity - along with an instruction booklet so unreasonably thick that Iíll be showing it to my grandchildren when they ask me why there are no polar bears anymore - is what really stands out from this collection.
There are some decent games here, in other words, but not enough to make this something you simply have to try. As for the Wii, itís on towards Zelda - and beyond that lies sunset.
6 / 10