Wii sports is the perfect launch title
Wii Sports is the only game sold with a console at launch the generation, and it is a perfect way to introduce the new control mechanics. Anyone can pickup and play this game, and though mastering it is not easy it is not required to have fun.
There are five sports to play, and though they are not as involved as a game made solely for one of them that was not the intention with Wii Sports. The games are designed to help you get used to playing games a new way, and the selection of sports offered is well rounded to give you a wide variety control methods to experience. Wii Tennis, Baseball, Golf, Bowling, and Boxing are each setup differently, though all use the motion sensing abilities of the controller instead for the infrared pointer; though that is used for menu navigation.
One of the best aspects of Wii sports is its combination of being easy to pickup, and its multiplayer support. The game uses the Mii Channel that comes with the Wii for a personal in game character (be it a likeness of yourself or your best attempt at your Aunt Gertrude). This character tracks how you have done at any particular game in the past and gives you an overall rating for each. This can be done with a number of Miis, though you can only view the “stats” by actively using one. Everyone having their own character is nice, and the selection list goes by the most recently selected, a nice feature when you have a group over. You can set the controller for lefties though it defaults for righties, this is changeable every time you select a Mii that was not used the previous game.
Tennis is played with just the Wiimote, held like the handle of a tennis racket. Though you don’t use your free hand to toss the ball up (you use the Wiimote), like in real tennis timing is everything if you want a fast serve (though accuracy is done for you). After that most of the challenge is timing your swing to not only connect with the ball but to determine where it goes. The later your swing the more to the outside the ball will go, and of course the earlier you swing the more to the inside. You can both forehand and backhand swing, meaning you need a bit of room between folks if you play, particularly if you really get into it. Larger motions are not required, but with tennis it can make control a bit easier, as the angle of the front face of the Wiimote does have some effect on spin and the ball trajectory. You can play a single set at a time, or up to five. This sport is one that begs for a tournament option, but unfortunately one was not included.
Bowling is my favorite if the sports, partly because it is the most involved. You hold the Wiimote like you would a normal remote control, but of course you use it very differently. The motions are what you would expect for bowling, you bring the Wiimote in front of you vertically, swing it down and back like you are holding a bowling ball while holding the trigger, and then bring the Wiimote back forward, releasing the trigger as close to straight down as you can. If you release it early the game lets you know you dropped the ball but it does not count against you, and if you release it late you “loft” the ball. Twisting the Wiimote to either side while swinging it forward produces spin in that direction. You use the D-pad to move you Mii back and forth on the lane and you can press A to use the D-pad to change the angle you throw the ball at. This also seems to be the easiest game to pick up and play reasonably well, and you can have 4 people play at a time taking turns.
Baseball is deceptively simple at first, and you don’t get to do any of the field work yourself. That is all handled by the system, usually very well. Your team can drop the ball on occasion, and of course there are areas that can be hit to for fairly easy singles and doubles, but we will get to that in a second. Pitching is pretty straight forward. You hold the Wiimote like a normal remote, bring it up like you were going to throw it, and then make a throwing motion (NOT releasing the Wiimote!) The faster you throw, the faster your Mii throws. You can use the D-pad to decide where in the batters box to try to put the pitch, and the A and B buttons are used to determines pitch type: neither for a fastball, A for a screwball, B for a curveball, and both for a slider. Batting is a lot of fun as you hold the Wiimote like you would (shock) a bat, though at times a bit frustrating. You need good timing, and how hard you hit depends on how fast you swing. Not all pitches are strikes of course, but you can hit just about anything. You don’t have to worry about where the ball is for how you swing, just use good timing (not always easy with curveballs). Only two people can play this sport at once, and there are only three innings per game. The length of games is about right for the fun factor.
Golf is a bit different, though you do hold the Wiimote just like you would a golf club. It is the only game where waving the Wiimote around too hard will have large negative consequences. The power of your swing reflects how far the ball will go, but if you swing too have for the type of club or the surface you are hitting from (think sand trap) you end up with a hook or slice that gets worse the more you have overpowered the swing. What one it is is random, so you can’t really use it to take that dogleg like a pro. There are dots on your power meter for every quarter of the power bar, these dots are also shown on the mini map for how far the ball will fly. One thing to remember is that the ball and will bounce and roll after that point, and the wind of course effects how and where the ball flies. It’s a good thing you get to practice the swing before pressing A to address the ball, you can try to get the right feel before you go for it. Putting is the same, but you have to swing even softer, this is a problem for short puts, but as long as you hit the hole with under a quarter of the power bar it will go in. There are nine holes to play, and you can play with up to four people at a time. This is not a perfect round of golf, but it is good enough so that you want more courses to play than just the one.
Boxing is the only sport where you use the Nunchuck as well as the Wiimote. You hold one in each hand like you would a bunch of pencils. Fighting seems pretty simple, punch and lean back and forth to try to dodge your opponent’s punches. If you lean with the right timing in relation to you opponents swing time “slows down” as the miss and you have a few seconds to pummel them. Of course, the same is true if you miss, so just swinging wildly won’t help you a lot. This is really the only sport that can’t be done with minimal motion, so you will get a work out if you are trying at all. Swing high for head shots, low for body shots. Roundhouses and uppercuts tend to be hard to pull off at first, and I still can’t do it with any regularity. Combinations of hits mean a lot, as they take more of your opponents stamina away. Once you connect, try to keep connecting. I have yet to have a match go to the judges for a decision, it always ends in a knockout. In addition to the main sports, there are also training modes you can do to improve you skills. There are three for each sport and they all focus on one area: accuracy, power, or consistency. You can get medals in each, with Platinum being the best. These are fun and can be fairly useful to work on something you have been having trouble with.
There is also a fitness test, based on your skill at a randomly selected batch of training events. The game keeps track of your score when you play, so it can be a good way to judge your overall improvement over time.
Wii sports is a game that I would recommend to anyone, not just people new to the Wii. Don’t ignore it just because it came with the system to show off the Wiimote, it is a solid game all on it’s own.