Wii wish you a merry Christmas!
What do you mean it's been done? It's a great pun! No. No I haven't been reading much journalism over Christmas� I've been bowling if you must know.
Ahh the wii. Finally. Finally it's here. You all know it by now - Wii Sports is the software to showcase the console. Free? You'd better believe it's free you lucky little early adopters out there-unless you're tuning in from the dark side and commandeered for yourself a naked import of course. Ahem.
'Pick up the remote, go on, just swing it!'
This is the real showcase, the one that drew in the crowd at E3 and made the Wii truly look like it could be a communal fun machine after all, instead of just being the focus of a sinister Nintendo fan boy flailing his limbs around in a dark bedroom illuminated only by the light of his greasy telly. By its nature then it's incredibly simple to play and, as is well documented by now, united children and grannies in fun-packed social holiday cheer over Christmas. Ahh.
The downside (for the more experienced gamer) is that there isn't a whole lot of depth. While this is arguably true throughout the range of sports it's particularly apparent in tennis. Sure, you can add different kinds of spin and power to the shots adding some sort of depth to play, but ultimately Tennis is a game of 'what you see is what you get'. Don't get me wrong, it's undoubtedly fun, but even the training mini-games fail to add enough variety to a game which will mostly be used for introducing newcomers to the Wii.
'Yep'yep, like a bat. Careful now.�
Interestingly enough (well I thought so) Baseball on the Wii gets rather boring rather quickly. You've played Tennis by now. You know you can swing the remote to get your Mii to do things. This is all about timing the swing and hoping for the best right? Wrong. Baseball is a game I came back to after playing the others fairly thoroughly. Only then did I realize what a gem I almost missed.
The response and accuracy of the remote is most noticeably in Baseball for a start. Even swinging a pitch it'll pick up the speed in which you're unknowingly damaging your elbow joint. After a while you'll discover the same effect can be gaining by sitting on the sofa and flicking your wrist, but nonetheless the speed of the flick will be detected and the pitcher will release accordingly (Why does this sound rude all of a sudden?). The real game begins however when you discover you can put curve and screw on the shot using the A and B buttons, fire a splitter by holding both, and even change the aim of the pitch using the d-pad. When played with this in mind the whole game because much more in-depth and with a friend the mind-games are fever pitch (no pun intended).
'You've got to let go of the button� NO NOT THE REMOTE!'
This quickly became a house favorite. In terms of control it's very simple. In terms of depth, well, there's really not much to do apart from spin a bowling ball down a lane and try to knock down those white 'pin' things. But that's bowling really isn't it? And everyone likes to go bowling!
Bowling is captured brilliantly in Wii Sports. Being able to adjust spin, speed, time of release, etc. just makes the game so addictive as you aim for perfection in every shot. This is what keeps you coming back, as yet I'm still 11 points of a perfect game (289 = striketastic) and I quietly promised myself I wouldn't do this review until I got a 300, just to see if I still wanted to go back for more. As of yet I can't promise you getting a perfect score won't make you put the remote down and look about thinking 'Right, what's next?...Hey look, there's a world outside!�. What I can promise you is that at least getting there will be heaps of fun for you and you're ones. Again it's one to come back to everything with a few friends round.
'Easy does it.'
The first thing you notice with Wii Sports Golf is how when tee-ing off you can't swing the remote with the same venom like you would a driver in real-life. Well you can, but it's not going to help you in the game.
After taking time to line up your stance, repeatedly check the screen for distance and the floor as if there's a real ball down there, and then nearly slipping a disc as you follow through. You'll be very disappointed to learn of how your effort has gone to waste. Instead you have to gauge the speed of your swing based on the meter on screen. To fill it up (and more and the shot will skew off to the side) takes a pace more accustomed to a delicate chip shot. That will put most people of at the start. With patience you can learn to like Wii Sports Golf, but it just doesn't do enough. Again the lack of depth gives you little to come back for other than a quick couple of holes. But since the realism of Baseball or Bowling isn't there it just isn't as compelling a title.
'Bob and weave, ok now counter. Counter!'
Using both remote and nunchuk, Boxing has a lot of promise. Firing jabs crosses and hooks as if it were real can't be this good. Can it? Well, no.
You see it doesn't pick up the speed of your punches, which is a real shame, so again timing is important. Standing up, up on your toes, dancing around the living room whispering - float like a butterfly Crossey� to yourself is obviously fun (whether you've got your Wii switched on or not) at the start. Mixed with a friend that's the kind of nonsense you'll resort back too and it'll be a good laugh, no doubt. But in reality the game doesn't accurately pick up speed or movement. Attempting hooks and uppercuts are hit and miss, while jabbing is often best achieved by just flicking the remote and nunchuk alternatively. One thing that does work well is the weaving from side to side. Coupled with counter punches Boxing soon becomes an entirely enjoyable game. Making up for the inaccuracies of tracking your real life punches, you'll find it possible to have a lot of fun dodging and then flailing your arms around when there's an opening.
Aren't you leaving something out?
When I said there isn't much depth in Wii Sports I'd feel guilty if I didn't mention a couple of things. Firstly you'll be using your Mii. The character you created on the Wii main screen who may or may not look like you (mine is scarily uncanny). This can even be stored on the Wii remote to take round to a friend's house. Other Mii's you created feature in Wii Sports even if their masters are not present. Taking the form of team mates in baseball, or supporters in bowling, for example. The fact that you have a Mii on screen makes you feel even more involved in the game and is a great touch I hope is used more in future titles.
Secondly there's the ranking. Sadly not all games in Wii Sports adjust your rank depending on performance in multiplayer, but in all one player efforts you'll get points accordingly. Maintaining a consistent pro status is a mildly addictive quality.
Lastly we have the training and fitness test mini-games. The fitness test takes you through basic areas of the different sports and gauges your performance to tell you how fit you are. This would have been more fun if it actually had some sort of accurate fitness reading like Brain Training's intelligence tests (claim to) have, but it's really just testing how good you are at the various games. The mini games are mostly rather dull; apart from I'd argue the bowling ones, which actually do add more to an already impressive adoption.
Before I give this a score lets not forget one thing - it's free! Since it comes free with your console how can it not deserve a high score? 'But hang on; don't we pay more for the console than overseas where they don't get Wii Sports bundled?� 'Yes, but sure it's the retailers who upped the price over here didn't you hear?� 'I'll leave the rest of that argument there. One thing I will say though is that you can look at it as free, or look at it that as a title that cost £180. Will people who never buy consoles be tempted enough by Wii sports to shell out that kind of money? I doubt it. But it will spark some interest at least. Maybe for little Jimmy as a birthday treat, and sure we can all play it to.
For the rest of us I'll say this - if it were £40 you would have no choice but to mark it down on lack of depth, but regardless of how you want to argue price Wii sports is a very fun and very addictive game. While I found Bowling and Baseball to be my favorites, I imagine different people find different things they like about it, while it still manages to bring people together. For me personally, if I were King of Nintendo, I'd have bundled it with a few beers.
8 / 10