Review by ZFS

"While nothing more than a glorified tech demo, Wii Sports manages to be a fun, albeit shallow, experience."

Wii Sports is the first game packaged with a system at launch in some time. The last time I recall getting a game with my console was probably way back with Super Mario world on the SNES -- it's been a while, for sure. Needless to say, Wii Sports certainly isn't a Super Mario World. What it is, and what it represents, is Nintendo's philosophy about bringing the gamer and the non-gamer together to enjoy videogames. If they succeeded with that is a bit questionable, though.

The best thing about Wii Sports is that it's a compilation of five total sports -- Tennis, Baseball, Bowling, Golf, and Boxing. Each of these makes clever use of the Wiimote in ways that make sense, or at least they try to. If you're playing Tennis, you'll use the Wiimote as a tennis racket; Baseball, you'll swing the Wiimote like a bat. It's very simple and intuitive, although there are some problems with the game registering the gestures at times, which ultimately bring down the experience.

Tennis: This is by far the most accessible of the bunch. There is only thing you control: your racket. The movement of the caricatures is done entirely by the AI, which means you're free to concentrate solely on hitting the ball. It's done rather well, but at the same time, the lack of control over your character can be frustrating if you're a seasoned gamer. There are, however, various swings you're able to pull off. Depending on the type of gesture you perform, you may put more spin on the ball, or pop it into the air over the person you're playing, or sending it flying across the court. It's a very "pick-up-and-play" kind of game.

Baseball: Baseball essentially boils down to being a Home Run Derby of sorts. Like Tennis, you don't control the movement of the players; instead, your focus is either to smash a homerun, or pitch. Despite the limited control, this game is a blast when you have a few people to play with. A cool little extra with the game is that both teams are comprised of the Mii's -- ones you've created, or generic ones if you have one too few made. The only issue that plagues the game is how the sensor bar picks up the gestures. Trying to mimic an actual baseball swing is not as effective as just flicking your wrist.

Bowling: The best of the entire package right here. Bowling is a lot more fun than it may sound, and it actually adapts to the Wii's control scheme better than any of the bunch. Using the Wiimote like an extension of your hand, you simply pull back, hold down a button, and then release where you're ready to let the ball go flying down the lane. If you find it necessary, you can even put a spin on your ball for that extra oomph, or are in that ever sticky split situation. The most fun to be had with this one, though, is in the training mode, where you start by knocking down 12 pins and end up with about 100 total. It's really addictive to try to best your score each time.

Golf: The most in-depth of the games also happens to be the most frustrating. The highlights of the game include determining wind direction, wind speed, and, unfortunately, emulating the "problems" with golf. And that's the name of the game here -- "problems." I don't know how many times I accidentally put way too much power behind by swing when all I did was barely pull back. Doing such will almost arbitrarily give you a serious draw and make you end up in the water or rough. Regardless of how many times I tried, there's no way I found to consistently be able to hit the ball the same every time, or close to the same. At that point, it was more frustrating than fun. Being limited to just one course isn't too hot either.

Boxing: Ah, Boxing. My favorite sport, but not my favorite game. Aside from the fact that this screams Punch-Out!! sequel, this provides a very limited taste of what we might be able to see with boxing games on the Wii. This is the only game that uses both the nunchuk attachment and the Wiimote -- one for your left hand, one for your right. It's not as precise and polished as it could be, but you're able to perform a number of different boxing techniques -- jab, hook, uppercut, etc. -- and whenever you land a hit, you can feel it. But there's no need to worry about needing to be the next Muhammad Ali here, because there's little in the way of skill involved here. You can win matches, perhaps even easier than trying to emulate boxing techniques, simply by flailing around. It's certainly fun, but can be a bit of drag if you're like me and wanting something closer to a simulation.

Wii Sports definitely isn't the kind of game that is going to blow you away with its depth or complexity. The idea is to offer short, sweet experiences with friends or family. But with that said, too much simplicity can be a bad thing, and that's the case here. Without any sort of tournament mode, or extra options, the game lacks longevity, and can become a bit repetitive over time. There's also some hit detection issues the game has, primarily due to the lack of precise motion controls, which prevent it from being as good as it could be. For a game that comes packaged free with the console the complaints are excusable, but after playing it a few times, you'll be left wanting more.

Final Score: 6/10

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 11/29/06, Updated 09/04/07

Game Release: Wii Sports (US, 11/19/06)

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