Family friendly pick-up-and-play sports games for up to four players.
Wii Sports comes bundled in USA and Europe with Nintendo’s Wii. As a free game it fares incredibly well – it’s nice, unbelievably friendly to new players and is easy to just pick up and have some fun with. Anyone can play thanks to the approachable controls with the Wii Remote.
There are five different sports to exercise and test your skills in; tennis, golf, bowling, baseball and boxing. They all play differently and each sport offers something unique to the overall experience. The game supports four players and you’ll be using your Miis as your player characters. That fact alone surely makes for some laughs and it all reminds us about what video games are supposed to be in the first place; fun!
Each sport has three training exercises you should do before you start playing. This works as a tutorial on how the Wii Remote is used and how the game functions. For the most part it’s incredibly intuitive and if you’re a long time player (and have experienced wonky controls before) you’ll be amazed the first times you try it.
Apart from the tutorial mode you can just play the sports, like you would do in real life – either against AI controlled opponents or with people locally. This game does not support online multiplayer.
There is a Fitness mode in which you will be asked to perform three different activities connected to the five sports. Having completed these activities, the game will calculate how well you did and record your data and track your “fitness age”. It is taking your strength, stamina and speed into the calculation – measuring your stats towards the age data in the game. The ideal would be to reach an age as low as possible and you can only do the Fitness mode once per day. Your results are stored and you can see your progress across days and months. It basically encourages you to keep coming back to improve your fitness, nevermind how pseudoscientific it is.
Not only does the Fitness mode keep track of your data – the rest of Wii Sports does that too. This is so that the game can match your experience and challenge level as you become better at the different sports. Between each game you’ll see your current score and skill level. As long as you keep winning it will raise your level and you will be matched against more difficult opponents. That way the game will dynamically set a difficulty level for you – always challenging but not impossible to beat.
The tennis game is probably the most approachable for new players and probably the best entertainment value overall. You play tennis in doubles and you can play with or against a friend. You do not control your legwork here as your avatar will move around by itself in accordance to the ball in play. All you need to do is to swing the Wii Remote as a tennis racket at the right moment. Depending on how and when you swing your Mii character will react accordingly. Note however, that there is no accurate racket control involved here.
The baseball game offers some more variation – either you are the batter or the pitcher. Being the batter is a refreshing experience and feels great. You need to time your swing and the harder you swing the further the ball will fly. To really feel confident with the controls will take time and practice. The ball will fly seemingly in a random direction most of the time. Playing as the pitcher will encourage you to swing the Wii Remote as hard as possible in a throwing motion, with the potential to make your arm hurt!
The golf game is also nice and well done. Again, the controls will take some time to get used to, but when you ‘get it’ you will be swinging away like a veteran golfer. You have some options you can adjust here – club selection, aim direction and how to swing. On top of that there are other factors to take into consideration such as grass length, how the terrain slopes and the direction of the wind. Golfing in Wii Sports is fun and with local multiplayer this is probably the best value in the whole package.
In the boxing game you need the Nunchuk controller to act as your left arm because the Wii Remote will act as your right. Swinging away punches and uppercuts with this controller set up feels intuitive enough– and when standing toe-to-toe with an opponent you are sure to literally break a sweat sooner than you might think! The controls also work great for dodging and parrying your opponent’s onslaught.
The bowling game is what I find the hardest of these five sports. At first it’s very tricky to send the bowling ball in a straight line or to use any precision at all. But it has its moments and overall it’s a great addition to an already powerful package. I’d say that it is at least as enjoyable as bowling is in real life.
Overall these sports are fun to play and offer some variation but it must be said that none of these games offer any real depth. Sure the dynamic difficulty level is a fantastic idea and goes a long way, but the games themselves could have had even more content such as levels, options or more competitive game modes.
Wii Sports has a unique look and feel. It doesn’t quite remind of anything we have seen before, as the graphics are quite simple but still utilizes advanced graphics technologies such as blur, depth of view, lighting effects etc. It all looks very appealing despite the minimalistic Mii characters. The game keeps running at a steady frame rate, which is a feast for the eyes.
The sound and music are very generic, and doesn’t really stand out at all. It has this happy friendly minimalistic aesthetic to it and it goes well with the overall presentation. It’s just what you would expect and has no real surprises anywhere – nothing more, nothing less.
Wii Sports is the perfect introduction to the Wii, the Miis, and the unique Wii Remote controls. It’s fun to play and is also a nice introduction to the world of video games. I can imagine that many non-gamers could consider playing this and actually finding it a worthwhile pastime. But as a game it doesn’t really offer that much lasting appeal – as the grand novelty of the Wii Remote eventually wears off, you’ll probably prefer to play friendly casual competitions in local multiplayer or indeed something else entirely.