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Wii Play Motion

All yesterday’s parties.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

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 weren’t 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 it’s 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 it’s 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 collection’s 12 offerings is probably Spooky Search. It’s also that rare game that really shows off the MotionPlus difference - in this case, via the console's ability to keep track of the controller’s positioning when it’s not pointed directly at the sensor bar.

We’re deep in Luigi’s 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 you’re locked onto a spectral target. After that, it’s 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 it’s atmospheric stuff, particularly when you’re playing co-op with friends, all chipping in to tether the angrier ghosts. The haunted house backdrops are filled with loving detail and it’s genuinely creepy to watch your Miis being abducted if you’re 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 - it’s a stand-in for your waffle cone - as a Godzilla-sized scoop piles on blobs of ice cream. Keep the cone steady and you’ve got a decent leaderboard game, and one that really plays on the MotionPlus’ added sensitivity. There’s a neat bonus mode too – many of the mini-games come with cheeky variants – that sees you collecting swirled ice cream by tilting the remote in gentle circles. It’s 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 controller’s 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.

It’s hard but rarely infuriating, and it’s a great example of MotionPlus’ one-to-one tracking. (It’s also the only Nintendo game I’ve 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 isn’t bad either, even if it’s rather familiar. It’s 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 controller’s presumably doing some clever stuff in your hand, but the game’s pretty generous in its interpretation of your movements and will lock you into place once you get into roughly the right area. It’s 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 pirate’s hold, and then turning it the other way to bring him back to the surface again. There’s tilt steering, which could be a little tighter, but is fine considering you’re meant to be underwater, alongside an air supply to take into account and a range of obstacles to avoid. It’s an inventive delight, and it’s only a shame that the levels run out just as things are starting to get really interesting.