Platform: Nintendo Wii
Review: Wii Sports
Developer - Nintendo
Publisher - Nintendo
I have been playing Nintendo branded consoles for quite sometime. My first experience with anything Nintendo was ages ago when an old girlfriend of mine got an 8-bit NES in her house via her little brother and we played Duck Hunt into the night. Since that time I have had the joy of playing all that Nintendo has released. The recent launch of the Wii has brought something new to the table; Nintendo has packed in a game with the launch of their newest console. Reviewing this title was quite a challenge as I did not really know how to go about it, being that this game was free and all. After some time playing the game with everyone from co-workers, friends, and even family, I decided to just review it for what it is, a game called Wii Sports
There is no doubt that the visuals in this game are somewhat simplistic and underwhelming. I remember when Nintendo first debuted this title; it was really only a tech demo for what they wanted to do with the newly developed wiimote. At that time I chalked up the visual style of the game as just being a demo for what the machine could do gameplay wise. I never really thought they would release a game looking as simple as it does, especially on what was to be considered its next generation console. However I have been proven wrong as Nintendo did release this tech demo in the form of Wii Sports. So after playing with the game for awhile, I have grown to really like the simple approach. Although it definitely does not push the hardware, the game's visuals have a certain charm and just seem to be right with the game. Sure, I wish they could have strengthened certain aspects of the graphics (e.g. baseball or tennis stadium crowd) but what is there is simple and really does the job well. And for you tech heads out there the game supports the Wii's 16x9 mode as well as Progressive Scan (480p).
As with the visuals, the sound in Wii Sports is pretty basic but yet it gets the job done. The music is nothing particularly special, but yet it really blended in. This is also the same for the sound effects that accompany each mode of gaming. Listen closely while you are bowling, the cabaret bar like music that plays while the sound of other lanes bowling mix in perfectly with your own on-screen action. It actually sounded (and felt) like I was in a local bowling alley throwing the ball down the lane. I would have to say that the overall sound does a good job and manages to match the overall feel of what Wii Sports is about.
As everyone knows Nintendo has been about gameplay, as evidenced by both the DS and the newly released Wii. And as the hours went by while playing Wii Sports I really began to understand what they are aiming for in this next round of the console wars. It is clearly evident that Wii Sports was developed to showcase not only what the wiimote is about, but also to allow anyone to play the Wii and have fun.
The game is a compilation of five games: bowling, tennis, baseball, golf and boxing. Each uses the wiimote (and in some cases the nunchuk) in innovative and new ways to control the on-screen action. I will give only a brief overview of how to play each and some of my thoughts on each mode.
Bowling - The wiimote is used to simulate throwing the ball. You lift the wiimote as you actually would a bowling ball. While lifting it you hold down the trigger. You basically go through the motions of throwing a real bowling bowl and you release the trigger where you would actually release a real ball. You can turn your wrist either way to get spin on the on-screen ball too. This was the most addictive game in the five as I found myself and others with me wanted to bowl nine frames over and over. It also felt like I had real control over the virtual bowling ball as I was able to make some pretty sweet shots.
Tennis - The wiimote is used to simulate your tennis racket. Here you swing the wiimote as you would a tennis racket once the on-screen tennis ball was close to your character. You can turn the wiimote in specific ways in order to get not only spin on your ball, but to lob or strike it down the baseline. I should note that you don't directly control your character to the ball and that you only have control over the swinging your racket. I found that this was somewhat fun, especially with others people, but I wish I had more control over moving my character and that I was not limited to just hitting the ball.
Baseball - The wiimote is used for pitching and batting. To throw you actually go through the motions of throwing a ball ad to hit the ball you simply swing the wiimote as you would a baseball bat. This was definitely a neat concept but it became somewhat boring to me. People that I played with however found it quite a novelty in small doses and it was somewhat a hit (editors note: pun intended) with some of the people I played with.
Golf - The wiimote is used to simulate a real golf swing, be it driving off the tee or putting on green. The harder you swing the wiimote the more power you get on each of your shots. The various holes I played on were actually well designed and communicated the game of golf pretty well (e.g. ball physics) but the major flaw here was that it was somewhat of a difficult game as I found I could not master my power as much as I needed and others who played with me were in the same boat. Maybe we needed a lot more time with it but regardless it was not nearly as fun as those mentioned above it.
Boxing - This was the only game where both the wiimote and nunchuk were required to play. Both are used for movement about the ring and the simulate punches. My playtime with this mode was somewhat limited as I just didn't have any fun with it and anyone I played with immediately wanted to play something else in the five games available.
The controls for all the games were quite simple and easy understand. Most were easy to master too, except for the golf, as there is nothing particular complicated about playing any of these games. That is where the charm of Wii Sports lies. I had friends and family playing these games in no time and all had a blast playing most of them. This made me recognize what Nintendo has set out to do, make videogaming more accessible to anyone who wants to pick it up, especially the non-gamer.
The simple approach that Wii Sports takes also leads to a glaring problem for this title, what about the hardcore gamers who want challenge. I believe that this game will only be a diversion for the hardcore, as there is not a lot of depth in this title. The games are too simple to allow for long term play. Nintendo has attempted to address this by adding a training mode where each of the five games has different variations on its main gameplay style. But again, this can only be done for so long and the hardcore gamers may tire of it. So for the hardcore this title is perfect for taking a break from hours of Zelda, or to use when a group of friends are over and you want to do something else but sit around.
I should also mention that Wii Sports allows for in-game play to be represented by any of the Mii characters that you may have created. I have made a few Mii characters, representing not only myself, but my friends and family too. It was fun to see these cartoon representations playing the various games that we played and it added a simple but yet fulfilling type depth to the game in the sense that you actually saw the representation of yourself doing the on-screen action.
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