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Wii Sports Review

Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: November 19, 2006 Also On: None

Wii Sports made its inaugural debut at E3 2006 when Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, legendary developer Shigeru Miyamoto and PR rock star Reggie took to the stage to play a friendly game of tennis on their new Wii home console. Nintendo had said at the Tokyo Game Show in 2005 what the Wii’s remote control could do, leaving it to gamers’ imaginations to understand what kinds of games they would be playing this holiday season. With this demo at E3, Nintendo showed to the world the fun of playing tennis in the warmth of your living room using body gestures.

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If you’re completely unfamiliar with Nintendo’s new home console, the Wii is a system that uses a controller that looks like a television remote to act like a wand and control action on-screen. In other words, Nintendo is employing motion sensing technology with the help of a bar that you place at the top of your television to detect the movement of the Wii’s controller (the Wiimote). Using this technology in Wii Sports, Nintendo can simulate the swinging of a bat, tennis racket and golf club. You can also throw a bowling ball and throw your fists in boxing.

Wii Sports is filled with gameplay options to choose from. You have five different sports that you can play: Baseball, Bowling, Boxing, Golf and Tennis. Each of these can be played in single player mode, where you earn skill level points, or multi-player, where you can have fun with friends. Boxing and Baseball are the only two player games. The other three can all be played with up to four different friends, and only tennis requires four Wiimotes. There is also a Training mode, where you can hone your skills to a specific area. The Fitness Test tells you your “Wii Fitness Age” and is recorded and tracked using charts for future progress.

Let’s start with Wii Tennis. If you’ve ever played a tennis game like Mario Tennis in the past, you’re probably going to be a little surprised by this new, simpler version of the sport. Yes, you do serve, you can spin the ball and you can control the direction of the ball with your hand motion, but you can not control the direction of the player. I am not aware of any tennis game on the market that does the running for you. Oddly enough, it works great. Tennis has always been a cat and mouse game, less about running and all about where you place the ball. All of that strategy gets retained, except the difference is this is pick-up-and-play for anyone that knows how to wave their hand.

Next is Wii Boxing. I didn’t know what to expect here. The last time I played a boxing game from Nintendo was PunchOut! on the NES. I was surprised when I found that the game plays relatively well, though does have somewhat shoddy detection. It’s undeniable to say that playing with friends in a game of Wii Boxing is fun, swinging your fists at the television screen, Wiimote in hand. You can weave left and right to dodge, defend yourself by putting your fists near your face and punch by thrusting your arm forward. High punches will go to the face, low punches will go to the torso. A health bar runs low as you keep getting hit and when it runs out, you have ten seconds to recover. At the least from Wii Boxing, I gathered that EA better make a Fight Night Wii.

Wii Baseball is an even simpler concept of baseball than Wii Tennis is of that sport. Essentially this is nothing more than a homerun derby competition. You play as the batter and the pitcher throws the ball to you. You hold the Wiimote like you would a bat and swing when the ball crosses the plate. The obvious goal of the game is to knock the ball over the fence or out of the park. As a pitcher, you will simulate the throwing of a ball with your right or left hand (depending on your settings). The speed of the pitch is determined by how quickly you swing the Wiimote. You also have control of the direction of what type of pitch and where you throw it over the plate.

There’s possibly no sport that could be simulated easier than bowling on Wii. Wii Bowling is the most authentic sports experience that you will find in Wii Sports. You can play by yourself or with up to four friends with just two Wiimotes. No matter how many people you choose, you will bowl the full ten frames of regular bowling with the same rules applying. You simply raise the Wiimote to your chest, press and hold the B button to move your character and motion a swing as if you are rolling a real bowling ball. You can apply spin on it while you release the ball, and can adjust the direction of your player before you even raise your ball.

Finally, there’s Wii Golf. Just like Wii Boxing and Tennis provide great hope for games like Fight Night and Virtua Tennis, Wii Golf makes Mario Golf sound even more appealing to Wii. Just as you simulated the swing of a baseball bat, hold the Wiimote like you would a golf club. You can practice swing or tee off by holding A while swinging. You can adjust the direction of your shot with the control pad and select different clubs as well. Putting is the most difficult part for me, as the motion is hardly detected. Overall though, you get a reasonable amount of courses (9 of them) and can play as few as 3 if you don’t have a lot of time.

If you were looking at Wii Sports as the Wii’s demo showcase, you’re probably going to be happy with what you find. Nintendo did a good job of fleshing out these simple games to make them feel like a full game. More importantly though, Wii Sports shows that the Wii is an excellent console for sports games. After you try Wii Boxing, you’re never going to want to go back to analog controls again. Not only do you now feel like you are more in the game than ever before, you also get a decent workout. While I would go so far as to say Wii Sports is fun enough by itself to buy a Wii, the really good stuff is yet to come. Wii Sports is just the start of a revolution.

Graphics: 6
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.4
Written by Kyle Review Guide