disgaeamad's Wii Sports (Wii) review

A good pack-in game that shows what the Wii is capable of.

Pack-in games have been seen as a means for a company to show off their latest console's features, and this time around, Nintendo was eager to show off just what the Wii was capable of, and Wii Sports was the product of that eagerness. Wii Sports, as it states in the name, is a sports game, and it features: tennis, baseball, bowling, golf and boxing.

Each sport uses the Wiimote's functions in its own unique way and makes it feel as if you were actually playing that sport:

In tennis, you serve by either pressing the A button or flicking the Wiimote, and then swinging it forward. To return the ball to the other side of the court, you must swing the Wiimote in a certain way depending on where it is coming at you from: if it comes at you from the right, you must swing the Wiimote from left to right, and if comes at you from the left, you must swing at from right to left. You can also add in effects like hitting the ball up in the air by swinging the Wiimote upwards in the direction you want, or if you're aiming to make a fast shot towards to the ground, you must swing the Wiimote downwards in the direction you want.

Baseball comes down to batting and pitching, as fielding is handled by the game's AI. When batting, you hold and swing the Wiimote as if it were a baseball bat. The only thing you need to worry about is your timing and speed, so swing away. In pitching, you can either emulate the big-league overhand pitch, or you can simply flick the Wiimote, as the speed of the ball seems to be rather random, what with a simple flick being able to send the ball flying at 130 km/s in some occasions. You can also add in effects such as a curveball by holding A, a screwball by holding B, or a splitter by holding both A and B during a pitch.

Bowling is the simplest and easiest to handle out of the five sports. You start off with the Wiimote pointing upwards, and then you move it down, back and forward again. You must hold the B button as you swing, and when you've brought the ball back up to a certain height, releasing the B button will launch the ball down the alley. You can adjust where you want to bowl using the D-pad to move left and right, and you can also adjust the angle at which you bowl by pressing the A button and then using the D-pad. Unlike in baseball, the speed and strength of your swing when you release the B button determines how fast the ball goes, although overpowering your swing tends to have bad results, such as a broken TV.

In golf, swinging the Wiimote like a golf club emulates the power bar that used to be in nearly every golf game. The power bar is located on the left of the screen, and the harder you swing, the higher it goes. On the power bar, you'll notice white dots; these dots correspond with the dots on the ball's projected path that appear on the onscreen minimap, which makes golf a simple matter of deciding which dot you need to swing to. Of course, that's if you forget about judging other things such as wind direction and power, the bounce and roll of the ball, the slope on the terrain, etc. When you're making your way across the fairway, you'll probably be tempted to just swing with all your might, although this is a bad idea because going over the top of the power bar will cause your shot to hook or slice. Putting works rather similarly, but in a much more subtle way. The controls can make golf frustrating at times because you can overpower your shot by lifting the Wiimote higher, even after the ball has been sent through the air.

Boxing is the only sport to feature the nunchuk. You control your fighter's stance, blocking and punching while holding the nunchuk and Wiimote, whole moving them accordingly. Holding both up close to your body makes you block your opponents punches, although most of the time blocking doesn't work and your opponent can score quite a few hits on you. Punching requires you to swing your fists as if you were actually punching, making boxing the most exhausting game of the five. You need to aim your punches as well, as your opponent's AI is miraculously able to block, so aiming high or low determines whether or not you can actually score a hit. Unfortunately, the controls can be a pain, as it proves to be difficult to distract your opponent with a punch to one area, while delivering a punch to another. Matches always end in a knockout, so make sure to deliver a powerful final blow.

Despite their simplicity, these 5 sports do have a learning curve. That's where the training mode comes in, which helps you improve your skills as well as provide a fun experience for anyone who likes breaking their own records. In training mode, there are three different activities for each sport, all three focusing on different aspects of that sport.

These training mode activities are also used in a feature that will keep you coming back to Wii Sports: the daily fitness test. These daily tests consist of random training mode challenges, and when you complete them, you are given a fitness age based on your performance.

Visually, Wii Sports isn't very impressive. It's the first game that uses the Mii's you can create through the Mii channel, and these virtual people populate the game as either onlookers or the players themselves. The surrounding areas also have a rather simple design, but they manage to replicate the real life versions rather well. The sound follows suit through simple effects and barely tolerable music.

As a pack-in game, Wii Sports does what it was created to do: show off just what the Wii's innovative features can do. As a normal game, Wii Sports manages to provide an entertaining experience, but unfortunately, that experience isn't everlasting.


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