Review: Wii Sports (Nintendo Wii)

Wii Sports
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 11/19/06
System: Wii

Letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s face it. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s sort of silly to review Wii Sports. If you buy a Nintendo Wii, youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve got a copy of Wii Sports. Maybe this will be useful for someone who is considering buying a Wii, but itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s kind of silly really. Wii Sports probably wonâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t sell systems (Zelda will, Wii Sports wonâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t). Regardless, Wii Sports is a part of what people are thinking about when they buy a Wii. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a nice change from the past few years where a system doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t come with a game and costs (at least) $300.

When Nintendo announced that it was including a game with the Nintendo Wii, people were relatively excited. Wii Sports seemed like the perfect title to include. While many people would have preferred Zelda, Wii Sports was simplistic, fun, and really easy to pick up. Wii Sports is meant to get non-gamers to try playing, and letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s face it. If you bought a Wii, thereâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s about a 50-50 chance you got your non-gaming friends, family, or parents to bowl a little or try a hole or two in Wii Golf. It brought families together and perhaps caused a small little bit of peace to enter into a household or two.

At this point, everyone knows that Wii Sports is fun. Everyone has read a review or hit a few baseballs that illustrate this. The question becomes how deep of an experience is Wii Sports out of the box, and will it last you more then the time it takes to put it in, start the game, and eject it to play Zelda? Considering this is a universal pack-in game, thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s the angle this review is going to take. You either have a Wii or you donâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t. This review will be as much about the Wii as it will be Wii Sports simply because theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re intertwined at the moment. So is Wii Sports alone worth the price of admission, or are you going to need to pad out your library a bit to really justify buying a Wii? Letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s find out.

1. Collection

Wii Sports collects five sports games. You can played limited versions of baseball, tennis, boxing, bowling, and golf and a variety of mini games associated with them. By far, bowling is the most complete experience. Every other game seems to be stripped down a bit, whether itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s the three rounds in boxing, the four clubs and nine holes in golf, or the lack of fielding/movement in tennis and baseball. This isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t a bad thing, but itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s worth noticing.

The five games included canâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t really be called mini-games since thereâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a bit more depth to them then that. Theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re closer to quarter-games. Each game is fleshed out by three â┚¬Å”trainingâ┚¬Â modes that include punching a heavy bag, a home run derby, or bowling with 91 (yes 91) pins to train power shots. This is fleshed out a bit more by a training mode that tests you in three of the training games and gives you an overall â┚¬Å”fitness ageâ┚¬Â. Obviously Nintendo has paid attention to the success of Brain Age in Japan and the rest of the world.

There are a few easy criticisms to make about Wii Sports. First off, the collection really needed another game or two. Whether it is Darts (from Clubhouse Games) or a Track and Field simulator (like the one shown in Wario Ware Smooth Moves), Wii Sports feels a bit hollow. The five games simply arenâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t deep enough to really justify playing by yourself after the first week or two of owning a Wii. This doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t apply to multiplayer of course.
The other critique to make about the collection is how incomplete some of these games feel. Like I said early, boxing has only three rounds, golf has only nine holes, baseball has only three innings, and so on and so on. The majority of these games could have been easily lengthened to be a more involving experience. It wouldnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t have been that difficult to turn boxing into a 10 round match or baseball to a full nine innings. Sure, youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d probably need to add in a â┚¬Å”suspendâ┚¬Â feature for most of these games, but the majority of these games should have been longer.

Overall, the collection of sports in Wii Sports offers some obvious flaws. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a bit small, and the games included are relatively short (especially when compared to the â┚¬Å”realâ┚¬Â thing). Still, Wii Sports does nail a good portion of what people would want to play. The additional mini games are a blast as well. So in total, 15 mini games, 5 quarter games. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a pretty good package.

Score: 7 out of 10

2. Graphics

So far the Wii has been lambasted as a bad looking system with â┚¬Å”last genâ┚¬Â graphics. Wii Sports doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t exactly help the case, but the game has an appealing â┚¬Å”lookâ┚¬Â to it. Wii Sports uses the Mii you create to do a variety of the sports. The Mii Creator is, of course, a feature of the Wii itself. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a character editor that shares a lot more in common with MS Paint then it does with something like Madden 2007. There is a certain playfulness in making your Miis that really is only captured by the Sims and the Smackdown vs Raw series. While the Mii Editor really needs a few packs released on the cheap through the Wii store, the Mii Editor is without question one of the most entertaining parts of the Wii experience.

Wii Sports looks simplistic, but it never looks â┚¬Å”badâ┚¬Â. The game has nice movement to it and never feels jerky. Furthermore, Wii Sports has virtually no load times or in game slow down. That being said, Wii Sports is about as unimpressive graphically as practically any Wii launch game. While it is endearing and perhaps even stylistically the most original game at launch, Wii Sports isnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t a good looking game. It is mediocre at best. Wii Sports wins a lot of style points, but the game is graphically unimpressive.

Score: 6 out of 10

3. Sound

Wii Sports reminds me quite a bit Clubhouse Games in how it sounds. The music is catchy, but never overpowering. The music of Wii Sports fits well despite not being orchestrated or anything super special. Sound effects are cute as well. The sound of Wii Sports isn’t anything particularly offensive or memorable. It’s just sort of there. It’s a slightly above average soundtrack that inspires neither praise nor disdain. Some of the sound effects are well done, and the game has it’s moments with the sound effects (particularly if you hit a ball into the crowd in Tennis or throw your bowling ball backwards).

Score: 6 out of 10

4. Controls/Gameplay

The crux of the Nintendo Wii is how does the stupid thing play? Pretty darn good if you ask me. Wii Sports is a fun game thatâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s relatively intuitive about 80% of the time. The game that controls the best is bowling seeing as you can put spin on the ball and control direction as well. Bowling feels as natural as any Wii game Iâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve played so far (which is far too many if you ask my wallet).

The only game that feels kind of off is Wii Golf. Swinging the club feels fine, but itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s difficult to control the strength of it. The movement of the ball due to slanted greens also is a little bit iffy simply because thereâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s no way to read them beyond simply eye balling them (which is about as imperfect a science as you can do. Beyond that, controlling power seems to be an issue in all of the other games (besides Bowling that is). Pitching and swinging a tennis racquet are both inexact sciences. Boxing adds in a bit more frustration as itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s very difficult to throw hooks and uppercuts with your non-dominant hand. Furthermore, since the Wii is so new with itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s control scheme, everything feels shaky at first.

Regardless of this, the majority of the game feels really good. The force feedback on the Wiimote really gives some feeling to the bat you swing while not being over powering. Boxing, despite being a relatively shallow game when taken alone, benefits the most from this as youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re constantly hitting or being hit. Force feedback plays a great deal into what is right about the controls.

Score: 8 out of 10

5. Replay Value

Not unlike Brain Age, Wii Sports puts most of its replay value into a series of training tests. Wii Sports measures your physical progress in three areas. It records these and gives you a â┚¬Å”fitnessâ┚¬Â age. In other words, Wii Sports encourages you to play at least once a day for about the ten to fifteen minutes it takes to run through each of these games.

The biggest piece of value that Wii Sports offers in its extended life is that this becomes the â┚¬Å”letâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s play some Wiiâ┚¬Â game when youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve got friends over. The multiplayer is very good. Something like Golf loses a step or two simply because the other games or more â┚¬Å”twitchyâ┚¬Â but even that has some appeal. Overall, boxing and bowling really hold this package up well as theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re the games that most dorm rooms will find being played. In other words, the game as a single player experience doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t have too much replay value, but as a multiplayer one, look out. Youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll be playing this a lot more then youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢d think you would.

Score: 7 out of 10

6. Balance

In most of the games, Wii Sports takes a bit too long to ramp up the difficulty in single player. The majority of gamers will be playing Wii Sports as a multiplayer experience and probably wonâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t have the time or patience to get to a level where the computer is competitive. The Training mini games offer a bit more challenge right off the bat, but Wii Sports needs to become challenging faster. The one nice part about Wii Sports is that once you reach a certain level of challenge, the game provides a very solid level of competitive single player play. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s just that the difficulty should have been just a tad bit more configurable to really reach the level that we wanted it to.

Score: 7 out of 10

7. Originality

Well theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re sports. Furthermore, theyâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re sports that essentially go back to the whole plug and play games phenomena that have been entertaining kids for years now. Regardless, some of the different mini games feel very original (especially Power Training in bowling). Additionally, these games are the most developed versions of â┚¬Å”interactiveâ┚¬Â sports that weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve ever seen. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s like a cake almost. Everyone knows what a cake is, but everyone doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t have the same picture of what â┚¬Å”cakeâ┚¬Â is when someone says cake. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s a simple concept that does enough things differently that makes it feel new.

Score: 7 out of 10

8. Addictiveness

Immovable object versus irresistible force. Wii Sports is the type of game that you could play for hours upon hours. Wii Sports is physical activity that will tire out the laziest of gamers to the point where their skills diminish quickly, and the game then becomes not a lot of fun. The simple fact of the matter is that Wii Sports is an addictive game held back only by the type of game it is. The funniest part of Wii Sports is at times it tells you to go outside and play (assuming its kids and they need some physical activity). Guess what Wii Sports? Youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢re enough exercise for most gamers by yourself.

Score: 7 out of 10

9. Appeal Factor

Well if you like the concept of the Wii, youâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ll like Wii Sports. As for the particulars, Wii Sports appeals to anyone who likes sports (kids and adults), people worried about their own health or their kids health (or weight), the hardcore Nintendo fanbase, and anyone who loves playing multiplayer games. The only people this game wonâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t appeal to is the hardcore gamer, the person who plays WOW for 20 hours at a time and complains that the Wii is a gimmick. The hardcore gamers, the lazy gamers, and gamers only concerned with â┚¬Å”Grafixâ┚¬Â will not like Wii Sports. Otherwise, the game has near universal appeal.

Score: 9 out of 10

10. Miscellaneous

The Nintendo Wii represents a truly new direction in gaming. Everything about the Wii (beyond the continued intellectual properties) flies in the face of the current trend in gaming. A relatively cheap system where graphics take a back seat to game play flies in the face of what we know as gamers as next generation gaming. Most other gaming journalists say that the next Nintendo system will be a huge behemoth like Sony and Microsoft. I think differently of course.

While Wii Sports may not be the best pack in game at launch (it doesnâ┚¬â”žÂ¢t hold a candle to Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario World, or Tetris), but it is really a solid title that would have been worth buying at launch. Wii Sports is substantially better then anything weâ┚¬â”žÂ¢ve seen at the PS2 launch and if you have no interest in shooters, itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s better then anything we saw at the Xbox, Xbox 360, or PS3 launch. Wii Sports is a strong launch game that is hopefully a marked shift in what gaming is and will be in the next ten years.

Score: 9 out of 10

Final Scores
1. Collection: 7/10
2. Graphics: 6/10
3. Sound: 6/10
4. Controls/Gameplay: 8/10
5. Replay Value: 7/10
6. Balance: 7/10
7. Originality: 7/10
8. Addictiveness: 7/10
9. Appeal Factor: 9/10
10. Miscellaneous: 9/10

Total Score: 73/100
Final Score: 7.5(Very Good)

Short Attention Span Summary
Wii Sports is not a great game, but if you subscribe to the belief that launch games go up an extra point in all the reviews due to the limited amount of them at launch then go ahead. Wii Sports is a great game for launch. This is well worth the extra 30-50 dollars that got tacked on to the production of the Wii to include this game. Itâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s the type of thing that people trying to punch holes in the Wiiâ┚¬â”žÂ¢s value will bring up, but practically anyone who has played Wii Sports will turn around and say Wii Sports is much more then a demo disc. Wii Sports is a wonderful pack in well worth the price of admission.



, ,