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Wii Sports Review

By Brian Beck, 11/28/2006

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Game systems on release havenít had a pack-in game for awhile. Prices donít seem to have done much because of this, but you had to buy games individually. Sure, a couple of years after release, you could get a pack-in around Christmas season Ė but for those that like to buy on release, you wouldnít get one.

However, Nintendo has gone back to an age long past, the age of pack-ins with a console release. Enter Wii Sports, the pack-in game with the new Nintendo Wii. Youíll get five different sports to play Ė Tennis, Bowling, Baseball, Golf and Boxing. While these are all ridiculously simplified versions of the sports (you donít control fielders in baseball, for example), they are all still fun in their own way and, better yet, show off just what the Wii can do.

First, Iím going to take a look at Tennis. This game, like all but boxing, only use the Wiimote (no nunchuk attachment needed). The controls are ridiculously simple Ė you donít move your player around, you only swing the racket. The motions mimic those actual players would use, too. If you swing forehand, your player will swing forehand. Same for a backhand swing, and you can also put some spin on the ball if you rotate the Wiimote.

Tennis does play pretty well, though Ė I particularly enjoyed serving. Toss the Wiimote up to throw the ball in the air, and then smack it with your racket. There were some other nice touches Ė if you swing at the ball late, youíll hit it off to one side while hitting it early knocks it over to the other side. Timing ends up being very important in the game as does how you swing the racket.

Boxing was also somewhat interesting. Youíll have to plug up the nunchuk for this one, as you have two hands to control here. The game is, again, simple and intuitive. Punch forward and youíll jab. Throw a hook or uppercut and, boom, hook or uppercut. Hold the wiimote and chuk up and youíll block. Move around while holding them up and youíll dodge.

This one really showed me the potential that a future boxing game on the Wii may have. I canít wait for EA to get their hands on a fully-realized Fight Night style boxing game Ė if the ground laid by Wii Sports boxing is any indication, the future is very bright for the Fight Night series on the Wii. I really canít wait to see it.

Next up is Golf. This one is, at first, a bit strange. Take the normal backswing, for example Ė it has little effect on your actual swing and can sometimes even throw off the game. Iíve watched family members try to swing it way back and then way forward and the character on screen didnít swing. I found the sweet spot to be a small backswing and a solid follow-through Ė thereís a ton of control over swing power this way.

The graphics in Golf are undeniably the prettiest in Wii Sports. The courses look great, if a bit cartoony. However, the basic mechanics laid forth make for a very solid and entertaining golf game. While it isnít at all deep, it will get people to give the Wii a try when they see you playing it Ė and that seems to be Nintendoís goal with this whole shebang.

Baseball was one of the Wii Sports games I was looking forward to the most. Baseball has always been a part of my family Ė Iíve been a Braves fan since the days where they were the laughing stock of the Major Leagues. Right now, I go to college with my brother, who plays baseball on the team here and we share an apartment. So, naturally him and my roommate (a pitcher for our schoolís team) wanted to give this one a try. Watching both of them play (and playing myself, too, of course) was great fun Ė the game led to a ton of trash talking and laughter between all of us.

Sure, you donít control your fielders, your baserunners or anything like that. You canít bunt or throw more than a few pitches. What the game does bring to the table, however, is a blast. Being able to wave the bat around before you swing and have the game still pick up on said swing is great. Throwing different pitch types at varying speeds is also really damned cool. With a Major League licensed baseball game already in the works, Iím drooling over the possibilities that Wii Sportsí iteration of baseball has shown me.

Finally, my favorite game in the package was bowling. Bowling, in and of itself, is a very simple game in real life. Thereís not really much to going and rolling the ball on the lane, though getting good at it is another story. The great part about the Wii Sports version of this game is that, well, it accurately simulates the game. Having been bowling for most of my life (even having my mom be manager at a local bowling alley for over a year), Iíve got a good bit of experience with various styles. Iíve seen heavy hooks thrown from one corner of the lane that go near the other gutter and break in and Iíve seen backwards hooks.

The thing is, Bowling in Wii Sports accurately simulates all of them. My grandpa was watching me play (he has been bowling all his life too) and was having me try various things that he has done in his time bowling Ė and they worked right. I found that letting the ball go and rolling it let me put bigger hooks on the throw while not letting go until the ball flops on the lane often resulted in a slow-rolling ball that didnít hook much. This game is surprisingly deep for a simple bowling simulation. Bowling also seems to be the easiest for non-gamers to pick up. Even if you havenít seriously bowled, you know the basics. You donít even have to know how to keep score.

Also included are 3 minigames based off of each sport. Some of these simulate situations you might practice in the real sport Ė Tennis, for example, has you trying to return serves properly while baseball offers a home run derby. Some of the other games are insane and only really possible on Wii sports. One of these is the Power Throw game in bowling Ė while things start normal at 10 pins, you get to where youíre trying to knock down a whopping 91 pins. It really is pretty crazy and fun, particularly if you are playing with a few friends.

Overall, Wii Sports is an incredibly solid game on its own and, as a pack in, is just downright incredible. The game does a great job of showing off what the system is about and showcasing the systemís abilities. On that game note, it is simple enough for potential system buyers to try out in a store or at a friendís house. In the end, Wii Sports does exactly what a pack-in game should do. Iím definitely glad Nintendo put this one in every single Wii box. Sure, it isnít that deep and wonít keep you addicted forever, but youíll want to bust this out any time you have non-gamer friends over and get them into your new system. Trust me, itíll work Ė Iíve already done it myself.

Overall: 87%



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