December 11, 2006

Wii Sports

4 out of 5 stars

Wii Sports – Wii

Wii Hardware
While this scarcely needs an introduction, here a few points about the hardware itself, that I hadn’t picked up from the prerelease chat.

It’s quite small. It looks rather like a white external CD drive, and only looks remarkable when mounted on its stand. The stand has a transparent circular attachment which keeps it pretty stable, although you only really need to go anywhere near it when changing CDs. It has little doors which open to reveal an SD card slot, four GameCube controller ports (!) and two GC memory card slots. It has phono+scart connectors and the magic sensor thingy. The sensor has a generous amount of rather delicate-looking cable, and sits either above or below the centre of your TV – tiny stand and extra stickies provided.

The controllers are equally smaller than I expected, and the length of cable between the mote and the chuk, while less than my full armspan, has not been a problem so far gameplay-wise. Changing between mote-only and chuk config is fiddly (and necessary when you switch games) if you connect the strap how they say, infact even passing the mote to another player is harder than it need be. Ideally the straps would have been quickly disconnectable from the mote, with spare straps provided.

Setup’s fairly simple, even typing by pointing the mote at the letters was easier than I expected, plus there’s an on-screen phone-like TXT pad available which is probably a clever move. Internet setup is easy if you router’s setup is standard and your neighbourhood isn’t wireless-infested, but their servers are very busy.

Wii Sports
A collection of five games, with training modes and some basic games. Sometimes the training modes are more fun than the actual games, and there is very little depth beyond the standard game-types.

Perhaps the most sedate-seeming of the games, but I actually managed to split my jeans playing it on Saturday. Fortunately I was saved any embarrassment as everyone just assumed I had blown off.

This is the only one in my experience that you pretty much have to stand up for. Standard game is ten frames of normal-rules bowling, spin seems to be a bit difficult to get right, becoming easier as you approach the screen. The training is way more enjoyable – with barriers to spin around and up to 100 pins to knock down at once – where else can you do that?

Up to four players can swap a single mote to play.

Another supposedly-restful sport, this one really gets you carried away. While it is possible to play seated, and kind of flick the controller from over your shoulder as if fishing – it’s much more fun to pretend it’s a real golf club. It’s the best of the games, so it’s a real shame there’s only a single nine-hole course. Doing short hits can be a bit problematic at times, there are no options for vertical ball control, and landing off the fairway can be catastrophic. It’s great fun, but really just leaves you wanting a “proper” golf release on the system.

Up to four players can swap a single mote to play, although there is a lot of swapping to be done. Also, check you are not underneath the lights – it’s an easy one to get caught up in.

This is a nice bit of exercise, but possibly harder standing up. When batting, the timing is hard to get right, and the aim a little erractic. It seems the timing’s more important than the direction, as you can play seated and swing to the side. Pitching’s a bit random too – you can control direction and speed a bit, but not with any consistent effect on CPU batters. You sometimes annoyingly swing when repositioning the mote, missing critical shots.

You need a mote per player for this one. Also the pitching action is the most likely to see your mote flying towards the screen if it’s not strapped on.

Bit lost with this one. While actually hitting the ball is quite a natural, satisfying action, subsequently directing it is a bit random. Playing standing helps, as underarm motions seem to be more directable than the smash or volley-height strokes possible when seated. As with baseball, it’s easy to miss-swing when readying – thus missing your stroke.

Multiple players need a mote each. Important to stand still, despite the sluggishness of your character’s running.

Easily the most knackering, but that’s mostly (perhaps realistically) because most of your blows seem to go wasted. Haven’t quite got the hang of dodging, and the sparring training ended with a punch I found impossible to throw, no matter where I aimed. Probably only included because it needs the chuk, it’s a rather poor game. A shame, as I thought it had a lot of promise, but any dreams of pummelling your opponent with a windmill flurry of blows are quickly shattered – this particular game doesn’t reward quick, repeated movements, only “well-timed” ones.

Multiple players need a mote AND chuk each, which isn’t currently worth the expenditure in my view – also, the facing player has a horrible perspective to play from.

Sights and Sounds
Graphics aren’t what this system’s about, and certainly aren’t the focus of this game – they’re…okay. It’s quite hard to see the flags in Golf, otherwise not noticeably good or bad – your extra Mii’s make appearances in your Baseball squad, which is kind of cute. The little sounds from the mote really add to the feeling of personal involvement.

Stuff that sucks
You’re never quite sure if you’re doing stuff…correctly. Some actions seem a bit random, as things like slow putts in Golf just don’t seem to register. The system does have it’s limitations in the motion it can detect, and it can frustrate if your on-screen persona isn’t doing exactly what you are. It’s more a question of training yourself to move as the game expects, rather than getting too carried away with the perceived realism. I’ve actually played all these sports in real life, and it’s hard to shake some habits, particularly leg and head movements, which of course aren’t registered by the game.

A very entertaining get-everyone-playing introduction to the system, well worth the price of admission, disappointing in some areas, but leaving hunger for more in others. While the system shows massive potential, this game on it’s own, while hugely enjoyable, isn’t the best this system is capable of.

- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Mathew Mannion

    I found the golf prohibitively difficult to get right and the bowling actually very easy. Since the controller’s orientation or distance from the TV is irrelevant and it uses the internal sensors when playing games, I don’t think getting closer to the TV would get your spin right, except maybe it makes your swing less expansive and more twiddly :)

    11 Dec 2006, 14:14

  2. Nick Howes

    I got the hang of Boxing after I’d been poking the remote lengthways into the screen for a while… I found it works best if you just hold them in your fists and punch as you would, so the remote’s travelling sideways; it registered most of my punches that way. Agree about it being the most knackering :)

    11 Dec 2006, 16:41

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