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Wii Sports (Wii) artwork

Wii Sports (Wii) review


"You step up to the tee. You observe the wind, take a look at the lie of the fairway, and aim your shot accordingly. Finally, you select your club, and after a couple of practise shots, you swing for all you are worth. "



You step up to the tee. You observe the wind, take a look at the lie of the fairway, and aim your shot accordingly. Finally, you select your club, and after a couple of practise shots, you swing for all you are worth.

FORE!

This is where the follow-through pays off. This is where you find out if your pre-shot visualisation was accurate. BE the ball, young man. You hold the club as you will the ball to land where you wanted it to land. Everything you had, you put into that swing.

SWING. That is the operative word here. You didn't press the A button three times. You didn't dislocate your thumb flicking an analogue stick backwards and forwards at sub-light speed. What you did was to swing your controller, as if it were a real club. When you hit it right, you get the "thwack" that informs you whilst the ball is still in mid-flight ; That was GOOD! You feel it in your hips, you feel it in your shoulders. The ball sails through the air, and comes to a halt exactly where you wanted it to, smack dab in the middle of the fairway.

"Nice on!"

Not bad for a tech demo, huh? Especially not bad for a FREE tech demo.

You see, this is not Gametrak's latest spectacular attempt at prising your cash from your wallet with their ridiculous wannabee Virtuality. No fancy plug-in system needed here, you got everything you need when you bought the console. Nor is it EA's monthly update to the cash cow that is the Tiger Woods franchise. Nope, this is the pack-in title for Nintendo's new console. Read that again, because it is important. PACK-IN TITLE. This is the game that they give you when you buy the Wii.

Now, one could be forgiven for thinking, then, that the free game is ... well, worth the price. To be frank, when games companies give it away, it is usually because they know full well that no sane person would ever willingly pay for it. You could also be forgiven for thinking that Wii Sports is just a gimmick, that you will forget about the moment you put your first REAL game into the slot.

You would be forgiven. But, you would also be mistaken. Wii Sports is nothing less than a TRIUMPH!

If Golf were the only game included, then it would be a fabulous introduction to the "new way of playing" that Nintendo promised us. It teaches us all we need to know about the usage of the Wiimote controller, and how it can be used to simulate ... pretty much anything that can be moved in any direction. It teaches us about aiming, about power, and about more subtle things like spin, and angle. Also, it allows from 1 to 4 players to take part simultaneously, even with the one Wiimote.

Golf, on it's own, would be good news. However, Golf is just one-fifth of the entire package. You also get Bowling, Baseball, Boxing, and Tennis. Each of the games has it's own method of control, but they all boil down to a central guiding concept : "If you can do it in real-life, you can do it with the Wiimote." And, you can! In order to bowl, you swing your arm as if the Wiimote were a bowling ball, imparting power and spin. In Tennis, the Wiimote becomes your racquet, allowing you to lob, slice, topspin, and volley your way to victory. In Baseball, you literally swing it as if it is the bat. Suddenly, the controller is no longer a gap between reality and videogames. Instead, it has become a bridge.

Wii Sports is an excellent introduction to the concept of the Wii console, but it is also more than that. It is a truly great game in it's own right. Naturally, being a sports game, it lends itself particularly well to multiplayer action. 4-player Tennis is quite simply a sublime affair, and I challenge anyone to play a session of it without coming dangerously close to wetting their pants with laughter at some point. Boxing may well be even more physically tiring than it is in real-life. Bowling deserves special mention, as this is literally the first time EVER that the fun of the sport itself comes through in a videogame.

Had the game stopped right there, it would have done enough. In fact, more than enough! But, no, the developers took the time to add a reasonable single-player mode, too. 'Training' sets certain tasks, such as "Return the tennis ball", or "Get on the green", for each of the 5 sports. Each sport has 3 discipline. Achieve a certain score, and you get a medal. Believe me, the gold medal scores in this mode are no pushover to reach, and yet they never feel impossible. You KNOW you can knock down all 91 pins next time, you can feel it in your bones! And so, you try again. Eventually, your shoulder aches, but you still keep on trying. Things like that are what got you gaming in the first place, and now they are open to all to experience.

(And this is without mentioning 'Exercise mode', or the way that your in-game avatar is your 'Mii', which is the same self-designed avatar you will use in all future games that support it! You even get to see other Miis from your console in the background, or as team-mates in Baseball!)

Wii Sports does, in short, exactly what it is supposed to. It teaches us a new way to play, and at the very same time shows non-players WHY we play. A home run that comes from timing a button-press may feel good, but one that you actually swung at? Priceless. Serving an ace in any other Tennis game is all well and good, but is just not in the same league as serving one here. Because, here, YOU served it.

I can not find enough praise for Wii Sports, no matter how deep I dig. The game is beyond criticism, and not just because you got it free. It is a new way to play, and a way for new players to join us. And, as such, it may just be the most important videogame of all time.

Rating: 10/10

cheekylee's avatar
Community review by cheekylee (January 22, 2007)

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