- Reviewed on: Nintendo Wii
- Also available for: N/A
- The Good: All of the games are great fun in multiplayer; use of the Mii channel is great; an ideal game to play with non-gamer friends or relatives
- The Bad: None of the games have sufficient depth for extensive play other than golf; only two games are playable in multiplayer without more controllers
- The Verdict: A great first game for any owner of the Wii, but gamers will soon need something more
The first (and as of now, only) game in then Nintendo Wii's catalogue to take full advantage of the Mii channel, a section of the hardware's operating system which allows the user to make and trade tiny (and cute) stylized representations of themselves and their friends, Wii Sports is also most likely to be the first game that the average user of the system is going to play, and has been designed as such. Even the most die-hard Nintendo fans are likely to create their own Mii and partake in at least a game of Wii Tennis before booting up the Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
Don't Pack Them in to Your Living Room
Wii Sports, which is included with the console when you buy it, has five different games — tennis, bowling, baseball, golf and boxing. Each of the games is resolutely designed as a multiplayer experience. Thankfully, however, Nintendo have ensured that at least bowling and golf are playable by up to 4 people with only one Wii remote (a Wiimote).
Even if you only have one Wii remote at your disposal, this is not, realistically, the best game to be played in a small apartment or a crowded front room. Be prepared to move the coffee table at the very least so as to avoid players bumping into each other (at best) or accidentally punching each other in the head (at worst.)
Let's Have Just a Wii Game of …
The first game, tennis, is also the simplest; there's very little more to this than simply waving the Wii remote at the correct time to connect with the ball. A simple game of doubles can be played by up to four players in a competition of up to 5 sets. With at least two players this is a fun diversion, though as players do not control the movement of their characters there is not enough depth on offer here for extensive solo play.
Bowling fares better. In this game, traditional ten-pin bowling, the player is able to modify their standing position and aim, and while throwing the ball (using a realistic movement of the arm) they are able to put on spin by twisting the remote in the air.
Baseball is a full recreation of a 3 inning game of baseball, with one player throwing the ball (a wave of the arm plus a button combination selects between a fastball, curveball, screwball of splitter) and the other batting. Batting seems to require a proper baseball stance from the player and excellent timing to get a home run; more often than not the computer controlled fielders will catch it in mid air.
Baseball is certainly the most challenging game of the lot; particularly for users new to the Wii remote, and the randomness of the computer controlled fielders can lead to some irritation, particularly if played alone.
Swinging Punches and Golf Clubs
Golf is the best game of the selection; 9 holes of varying difficulty are on offer, and the game is played by swinging the Wii Remote exactly like a golf club. The remote only takes into account the speed at which you swing, not the direction, which means that a slice at the correct speed is still a perfect stroke. Whether or not that is a good thing is debatable, though it makes the game far more accessible, and the later holes are still very challenging.
Golf is the best game of the lot and the most likely to engender real competition, as here the Wii Remote works perfectly and there are no computer controlled aspects to add an air of randomness to the proceedings.
Boxing, despite being clumsy and silly, seems to promise the most from the Wii's future. Using the Wii Remote plus the nunchuck peripheral, the player can block and weave just with a wave of their arms, and it really does feel like the player's movement translates directly to the screen in real time. Throwing punches is a little bit more random (trying to ensure you throw an uppercut can be spotty.) With two players this is the most tiring and raucous game in the collection.
Imperfect but Perfectly Priced
As a pack-in title with the Nintendo Wii, Wii Sports is of excellent value; a game that's likely to be booted up with any visitor that expresses an interest in the system for (at the very least) a quick game of tennis. However, all of the games except, arguably, golf, lack any real depth or longetivity, and even Nintendo's training and fitness test segments add little to the package for the solo gamer. More worrying in the long term, however, is just how limited the use of the Wii remote is, with little more than waving the controller ever used. Only boxing seems to use any complex manipulation, and that is by far the clumsiest to control. Perhaps, much like with the Nintendo DS, developers need time to grow into the new control paradigm.