A worthy demo for the console, without much lasting value though
Since Wii Sports came packed in with the Nintendo Wii, this review, at one time, had no value. However, now it is sold separately. If you only recently bought a Wii, then this game is probably worth playing. For the most part, sports seem to be the best application for the Wii-mote. However, only a couple of the games in Wii Sports have depth or lasting value. Packing this game in with the console was a smart move by Nintendo, as Wii Sports would be worth renting and it is a fun party game, but not much more.
The main goal of Wii Sports seems to be showcasing the unique Wii-mote. For the most part, it succeeds at this goal. Games like golf, baseball, bowling, tennis, and boxing get a boost from motion controls that other games don't seem to realize. At the very least, there is a sense of satisfaction in using a motion with the controller that somewhat matches what is happening on the screen. Swinging your arm to whack a tennis ball or a baseball is certainly an upgrade over pushing a single button. Bowling, especially, is a huge upgrade, and arguably the best use of the Wii-mote to date. All of these games are very easy to pick up and play, but that ease of use comes at the expense of some depth. The computer opponents gradually get tougher as you get better, but you don't have much variety in the techniques that you use to respond.
In tennis, you swing the Wii-mote above your head to serve and then make a simple swipe gesture to return the ball when it is hit to you. You don't move your avatar on screen at all, and you have essentially no control over how you hit the ball. The only thing that influences where the ball goes is when you hit it. If you swing early, you pull. If you swing late, you slice. You can also ace a serve with a well-timed swing. It is moderately fun, especially in multiplayer, but the simplicity wears thin fast.
In golf, you simply make a backswing motion to hit or put the ball, and use the D-pad on the controller to aim. Once again, it is moderately fun, but not without problems. The motion sensitivity isn't very good, which makes a chip shot or a short putt a lot harder than it should be. There isn't much content here either – only nine holes. That said, it is accessible, but also challenging.
Boxing is pretty lousy. The game instructs you to use the Wii-mote and nunchuk to do stuff like block punches, jab, feint, etc. In reality, the motion detection doesn't work well enough for those tactics to work, so the best way to win a fight is to spam punches endlessly until you are sweating and out of breath. I played the Wii boxing just a few times before never touching it again.
Baseball is also moderately fun, for a short time. Overhand wii-mote gestures pitch the ball, and a horizontal swing hits it. The pitching is very well done, as how hard you gesture with the Wii-mote does affect the ball's speed. How you spin the Wii-mote also appears to affect the type of pitch that you throw. The hitting is pretty much a disappointment, as the only thing that matters is timing. The game last three innings, giving you no control over fielding or base running.
Bowling is arguably the best application in Wii Sports. It is one of the few games that is undoubtedly better because of the Wii-mote. The motion detection works excellent for this game, and it simulates bowling very well. You can throw and spin the ball all sorts of different ways, depending upon where you release the ball, and how much English you put on it. If you want to demonstrate the Wii for anybody, this is the game that you should show them.
How much value you get out of Wii Sports depends somewhat upon how often you plan to have friends over to play with you. The tennis, especially, is fun to pull out at parties. The game also has a few special challenge modes (such as a challenge where you knock down 30 bowling pins), but I didn't get a lot of value out of those. Wii Sports is ultimately a very solid minigame collection that does a great job of introducing novices to the Wii and showcasing the remote. It is somewhat of a disappointment that it lacks some basic features that you would hope for in a sports game, like nine innings in a baseball game or an 18-hole golf course. Regardless, every Wii owner should make sure to try it out.