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Review: Wii Sports (Wii)

Wii Sports Genre(s): Sports
Directors: Keizo Ohta, Takayuki Shimamura, Yoshikazu Yamashita
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Console(s): Wii
Rated: E for Everyone

Wii Sports is, surprisingly, one of the most important titles of the year. Not only is it Nintendo's first foray into their "revolutionary" motion-based gameplay, but it is the first pack-in game since the days of the SNES as well. To begin, the presentation is very streamlined, with easy to navigate menus and vibrant descriptive pictures of each sport. The Wii pointer makes it all the easier to navigate the menu, and you can even use the D-pad, though the pointer is much more fun. Music is strange in this game. The little chimes and tunes in the background are reminiscent of elevator music, but they don't get on your nerves as much. They're bright, happy... and forgetable. Nevertheless, they never get annoying, allowing you to enjoy the game without your TV turned to 0 volume!

Graphics are, you guessed it, nothing special! It's not for lack of processing power, however, since some very nice background lighting effects and detailed objects can be seen. These look slightly beyond the Gamecube, going to the realm of the original Xbox. The characters, however, cannot be saved by any graphical power from their cartoony, undetailed selves, but they are appealing nevertheless. When you start the game and import your Miis from the console, (yes, you play with the user-created avatars) they get a score, and you can increase this by playing and winning more and more games of "insert sport here." The goal is to become a "Pro", which will take a lot of playtime. You gain at least 75 points every time you win a game, sometimes up to 200 or 300, and you need 1000 points to become a Pro, making it long but easy to reach the milestone.

Finally, before moving into separate sports, the Wii remote's speaker. I have heard many complaints about the "tinny" sounding speaker on the Wii remote. With the speaker's volume turned down low, the sounds coming from the remote sound perfectly fine, and are a great addition to this game. The sound of a tennis racket hitting the ball, a landed punch, and a variety of other sounds keep the game interesting. I will cover each sport in it's own topic in the below paragraphs.

This game starts off a little bit frustrating. Nintendo has said time and time again that Tennis does not need us to manually control our character's movements. This is definitely not true! Most of the people who played Tennis, including myself, were put off by the fact that you can only hit the ball back, but you cannot control where you move. Other than that, the controls for hitting the ball were pretty accurate. It will take into account just about every movement you make with the remote. Though I was unable to change my spin by hitting the ball differently, I could pop it up, hit it hard or soft, and hit to the outside or inside of the court.
The Verdict: 2.5 (out of 5)

Baseball is also a fairly simplified version of the game. You can only play as the batter or the pitcher, and the controls are not much to talk about. Of course, the batting is just swinging at the ball with the remote, but there is not much in the way of vertical movement. It becomes a timing thing where instead of pressing a button, you swing the remote at the right time. (How you hold it and where you point it makes no real difference, just the movement itself) Nevertheless, batting is fun, and the controls immerse you fairly well into the process. Pitching was also simplified. You swing your arm like a pitcher, and your pitch gets thrown. To throw different pitches, you hold down the A button or buttons on the D-pad. However, there's never any risk in throwing other pitches, since you barely ever get balls. In addition, the fielders just catch the ball, and depending on what would have happened, the game decides single, double, triple, homerun, or out. The fielders can actually make errors, (not under your control) which is a nice touch.
The Verdict: 2.5 (out of 5)

Bowling is definitely one of the highlights of Wii Sports. You hold B to grab the ball, swing like you would in real bowling, and release B to let the ball roll. The game calculates everything from tiny wrist movements to the strength you throw with, and ends up with a very accurate bowling game. Granted, this is much easier than real bowling. (My almost total gutterball shots in real bowling magically become strikes and spares in Wii Sports) It's still a ton of fun. Multiplayer can be played either with up to four controllers, or 4 players handing off one controller.
The Verdict: 3.5 (out of 5)

Also a very accurate game, Golf is very full featured and not nearly as simple as the others. You can hit with many varying levels of strength, and have full control over your direction using the d-pad. There is wind to blow your ball off course, there are very detailed trees, rivers, etc. in the background, and there's 3 difficulties. With a ton of courses at 3 different difficulties, Golf can keep you occupied for a while. The game is also the hardest of any of the sports. It can be played with one remote, just like bowling, so there's no need for extra controllers.
The Verdict: 3.5 (out of 5)

Boxing, one of the late additions to Wii Sports, is undoubtebly one of the best sports on the disk. You control your Mii, using both Wii remote and nunchuck, from a back-of-the-head perspective, with your head semi-transparent. To jab to the face, punch forward with either remote or nunchuck, to punch to the body, hit low, to block, hold both up to your face, and to dodge, hold both and move to the side. These controls are the most intuitive set seen in Wii Sports, since even your movement is controlled through motion-sensing, not mapped to a d-pad or analog stick. Even though your punches will oftentimes not come out exactly the way you want them to, you'll still have a lot of fun doing it. The AI can get enormously hard as you progress through the matches, and multiplayer is very difficult. (Seeing as you must outsmart a thinking human opponent) This is by far the most entertaining sport in the game!
The Verdict: 3.5 (out of 5)

Graphics/Sound: 2.5 Average:

(3.1 stars)
Gameplay: 3.0
Design/Story: 3.5
Lasting Appeal: 3.5
Overall: 3.0
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