Wii Sports (Wii)

Well, well, well. Look what we have here. I did Excite Truck, and failed to hit Wii Sports first. Wii Sports, that game which had me up for 6 hours after receiving my midnight Wii.

Wii Sports is a very simplistic party game, in which caricatures you create (Mii’s) play, well, sports. You can play Tennis (by swinging the controller like a racket), Baseball (by swinging the controller like a bat), Bowling (by swinging the controller like you’re throwing a bowling ball), Golf (by swinging the controller like a golf club), and Boxing (by swinging the controller and nunchuk like, well, fists.) If that sounds like a lot of swinging, well, it is.

The game also includes a Practice mode that offers 3 training modes for each of the 5 games, for a total of 15 training modes. Power Bowling is particularly entertaining, challenging you to see how many pins you can knock down with a single throw; each of 10 tries, a new row of pins is added, such that for your final toss, you’re trying to knock down 91 pins at once. The practice modes have to be unlocked one by one, with only one mode for each sport available to begin with. However, no particular level of success is required to unlock the next mode – you need only play one mode once before going on to the next.

Last but not least, it includes Wii Fitness, which gives you a random sampling of 3 of the practice modes that you have unlocked, and uses your performance to judge your “Wii Fitness Age”, on a scale of 20 (best) to 80 (worst). I’m 23. The first time I tried it I was 74 years old, the next time I was 78 years old, then 41 years old, and yesterday, 31 years old. I find it makes a big difference which events it gives you – I do particularly well at the tennis events, so when I get all 3 tennis events for my test, I do very well.

The games are decent single-player, and allow you to increase your score in each game by defeating AI opponents. You start with 0 score, and work your way up to 1000 (Pro) and beyond. The real fun in the title comes from multiplayer; it’s a great party game, for players and observers. One of the nice touches is in hotseat games like bowling or golf, the controller chimes when it’s your turn – so if you take your controller with you to get a drink, you won’t miss anything.

The games themselves are a little hit-or-miss. Personally, I find Tennis and Bowling to be highly addictive, Baseball to be mediocre, and Boxing and Golf to be downright lousy. Boxing has control issues; the motion sensing just never works like you expect it to, giving you little control of your on-screen avatar’s actions. Golf, well – I’m not a big golf fan to begin with, but the way they used the motion control just doesn’t work well for me. Maybe a “real” golfing title will make better use of the motion detection.

Baseball is fine, but too simplistic; you can bat and you can pitch, and everything else is handled automatically, making it purely a game of motions. It’s fine as a motion-challenge game, but it’s really not baseball.

Tennis and bowling are both excellent, and they’re both games you can really get into with a group of 2 to 4, or even more. A particularly great game for company that’s new to the Wii, and you want to introduce them to it with something simple and straightforward, but still fun to play.