November 23, 2006

Review: Wii Sports (Wii, duh)

Wii Sports comes with the Wii Console as a throw-in. And as a throw-in, I believe this game is very much underrated. Wii Sports is comprised of 5 different games that are said to introduce gamers to the world of Wii, that is, using and getting used to the wiimote and nunchuk through various sports that are quite intuitive to the controls.

There are 5 sports included with the Wii Sports -- Tennis, Baseball, Bowling, Boxing and Golf. What's interesting is that everyone who purchased a Wii in North America got Wii Sports -- but everyone else who bought a Wii around the world got a game called "Wii Play", which actually contains 10 different mini-games. The mini-games are: Table Tennis, Laser Hockey, Fishing, Find Mii (variant of Where's Waldo), Pose Mii (not sure what this is), Shooting (Duck Hunt?), Pool, Charge! (apparently some kind of bull-riding game), and Tanks. Although some of these sound pretty stupid, it seems a little unfair that we don't get this package. The latest rumors are that eventually, we will get this game as a throw-in to a new controller, possibly in the new year.

I'm going to go through each sport and give each its pros and cons before wrapping up the game as a whole.

Oh, before I get into it -- What is a "Mii"? A "Mii" is a basic profile on the Wii console. Wii allows you to create profiles, which can be attached to your wiimote so that you can use your wiimote and profile on other Wii consoles. You can customize your Mii's appearance with an editor built into the Wii. It's a fun concept and I even made a Mii that looked somewhat like me, but all in all, it's pretty silly.

Wii Golf

The golf game is decent. You hold the wiimote like it were the shaft of a golf club, and hold A to swing. It measures how far back you swung from, your follow throw, and how quickly you swung. If you swing wildly, you'll shank the ball and it'll spin out of control and likely miss where you were aiming. I found this to be pretty tricky, because I would have just wailed it and now I have to control my swing. After a few holes (with scores of +8, +9 on par 4s), I settled down and managed to get a few pars and bogey's.

Wii Boxing

This particular one is not great. You require the nunchuk to act as your left (or right, depending on what-handed your Mii is) and basically you punch it. Overhead punches are jabs while low ones are body shots. I've managed to get a few uppercuts but they're almost always blocked. If you hold your hands up, you'll block punches to your face, and low for blocking body shots. If you hold the wiimotes to your waist and lean your body, it will detect that an your Mii will lean back and away. This is great for avoiding punches. The biggest problem with this game is that the sensor is unable to process quick flurries of punches. You need to punch by reach far forward, and then retract back to your body before you punch again. If you don't do this your Mii's arm reaches out for a punch and then stays out there. The Wii isn't very good at sensing that you reached back for a new punch. I find this to be the case for any action based on reaching forward to backward.

Wii Tennis

This is the best game in my opinion from Wii Sports. You hold the wiimote like the handle of a tennis racket and just play tennis. I haven't fully mastered it yet, I know that there is a way to get a very fast serve in, but I've only gotten it once or twice. Swinging fast or slow does seem to make a difference, and timing is a big thing, if you hit early, it will take a bigger angle, later, big angle the other way. Wii Tennis is doubles' only, so you can choose to control one player, or two. You can even control all 4, but I think you'd get tired pretty quickly. Wii Tennis moves the players around for you so all you need to do is swing. Often this is a lifesaver because if you are controlling two characters, if the front guy misses, you still have a chance with the guy in the back. I'm totally loving this game as I've found it provides a pretty good workout for the arms.

Wii Baseball

Wii Baseball is okay. There isn't a whole lot of control, you are either swinging (swinging low or high makes no difference) or pitching (throwing motion is standard, you can't actually control your pitch). By holding different buttons while pitching, you'll get different types of pitches like a fastball, curveball, sinker. For swinging as far as I can tell no amount of buttons will help you. I strike out a lot. A LOT. I've hit 3 homers out of playing about 10 times. You also don't run around the bases or do any of the fielding, it's all done for you. A single just means if you hit the ball and none of the infielders caught it. Even if it's a grounder to third base, it's an automatic out. If you hit it into the outfield and no one catches it, it's a double by default. I have heard of people getting triples.. I have never seen this yet. Other than that, it's pretty straight forward. What I do like about this game is that you can swat the bat around and imitate stances. For instance, Gary Sheffield and how he kind of shakes the bat a lot while he's waiting for a pitch. But it adds nothing to the swing so it's just for aesthetics.

Wii Bowling

Wii Bowling is second to Tennis. It's a whole lot of fun. You hold down B and go for the bowl, and when you release B, you release the ball. I have seen stories of someone letting go of the entire wiimote and have it hurtling into a television. I've seen screenshots of CRACKS in peoples' televisions because of this. This scares me A LOT. However, if you look past that, it's a whole lot of fun. You can put a lot of spin in the ball or none at all, depending on the orientation of the wiimote during your bowling motion. It's not completely realistic though, as I bowled a 186 on my first try. In real life the best I ever bowled was a 149, and I usually average around 60.

So, each of the games has it's moments and in particular, Tennis and Bowling. I would rank them in the following order:

1. Tennis
2. Bowling
3. Golf
4. Baseball
5. Boxing

Moreover into the game features is a training mode where there are mini-games for each of the sports and 3 different types of challenges that help you to hone your skills in each sport. My favorite one is a target practice with Tennis, where you are basically hitting the ball against a wall as practice. This is incredible for working out, and you really get a good feel for timing your hits and switching from front-hand to back-hand when needed.

On top of the training mode is an interesting tool that put you through 3-4 of the mini-games and measures your "fitness age". The first time I ran this thing, I scored 49 years old. Ouch. I did this a second time a few days later and scored 31. Now that's more like it..

The sounds are pretty mundane, nothing special but then again, how special should it be, you're just hitting a ball in most cases. Graphics are nothing special either, they're completely cartoonish-driven, the golf scenery is nothing to brag about. What I do like is that the wiimote emits sounds so when you hit a ball, you hear it get hit. This is and will be a great feature for likely any game for the Wii. Feedback sound is just a really great idea and other consoles should have thought of this too.

Overall I really enjoy this game, a lot more than I thought I would. If you'll recall I bought Call of Duty 3 because I wasn't sure Wii Sports would hold me over very long. But I often find myself popping that disc back in to try to beat those darn computers at Tennis.

Sound: 8/10
Controls: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Value: 10/10 (after all, it came free!)
Fun Factor: 10/10

Overall score: 45/50.

I haven't even played this game with other people yet, and I'm betting it will be even more fun, considering it was designed for multiplayer. I can hardly wait to have people over and watching the looks on their faces of smiles, determination and ultimately, frustration while playing this.

I think I might have them sign a waiver in case a wiimote goes flying towards my TV, someone must pay!!


Anonymous said...

oh so cooool... and soo jealous. good review man. Maybe i'll get it next year.

ebrian said...

lol.. don't be jealous.. you're gonna have a KID -- that's WAY better :P