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  • Sun. Mar 3rd, 2024

Wii Sports

BySara

May 21, 2006

It can be hard to describe actually using the Nintendo Wii controller, almost like trying to tell someone who’s never used a mouse and keyboard setup how to do so in a PC first-person shooter. But Nintendo, in all its infinite gameplay wisdom, has created a series of games that make describing the Wii controller a breeze. This collection of games, called Wii Sports, includes a handful of sports games that use the controller exactly as you’d use the sporting equipment in real life, making for both an easy-to-describe gameplay mechanic and an all-too-natural gameplay experience.
The first game in the Wii Sports lineup at E3 was Wii Sports: Tennis. With the Wii’s quarter-inch-tall sensor on top of the TV, we simply held the Wii controller in one hand and moved around in the “living room” cubicle as if we were actually playing tennis. Moving in front of the TV, be it raising our arms in a serving motion or making a backhand movement to return the ball, felt completely natural, almost as if we were actually out on the court. Depending on your player’s position on the court, there was also a forehand motion, overhead smash and, for the truly advanced, an ability to give the ball top spin by rotating your wrist realistically as you swung the racket, er, remote.
The only downfall to Wii Sports: Tennis, and one that might befall gamers with small living rooms, was the confining demonstration space. You see, in addition to the sensor detecting arm movements, Wii Sports; Tennis also seemed to use real-life player movements to at least partially direct the on-screen character. Nintendo says the game moves on-screen sprites into position automatically, but we found that not to be true (and if it was, then Nintendo still has some serious work to do). Our on-screen players would frequently not get to the ball in time, so we felt the need to help our player along by moving our bodies into position. The problem was, with the small space at E3, we often ran into our doubles partner or, worse yet, our opponent. As a result, it was far too easy to miss the ball simply because we couldn’t reach it. Again, the auto-positioning may be something Nintendo is still working on, but if it remains as questionable as it was in our time with the game at E3, Nintendo may want to look at using the nunchuk attachment along with the Wii controller to use the thumbstick to move on-screen characters.
The next two Wii Sports games were equally intuitive in the control department and much less questionable when it came to player movements. The single-player Wii Sports: Golf, for instance, has players making full swings when teeing off and miniscule putting motions when on the green. This mechanic is infinitely more gratifying than pulling back on a thumbstick, and it obviously feels much more natural in the context of a golf game. It does, however, give players less opportunity to make excuses about thumbstick errors, which will be a real eye-opener to Tiger Woods PGA Tour ringers who think they can actually perform that well in real life.
Wii Sports: Baseball, the third game on our Wii Sports tour, is more like a homerun derby for up to two players than an actual full-featured baseball game. Players grip the controller like a bat and swing at the baseball as it approaches the plate. The harder you swing, the farther the ball travels, and as in real-life hardball, the timing of your swing determines the angle in which the ball will travel. In a cool nod to individual swing stances, the game also picks up small circling motions as you’re in the batter’s box, so if you twirl your bat in real life as you wait for a pitch, you’ll see that translate to the TV too.
Wii Sports may sound at first more like a proof of concept than an actual game, but it’s definitely geared toward the multiplayer experience. More important, perhaps, is that it shows people exactly what using the Wii controller is like from a gameplay standpoint. It was also the most intuitive game at E3, not just for the Wii, and it showed better than any other game the range of sensitivity and functionality of the Wii controller. Like opening the door in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, the mechanics in Wii Sports immersed us in a game in a way we haven’t before experienced. With just a bit more polish, chalk this one up as all dressed up and ready to go, coach.
— Jonas Allen

By Sara

My name is Sara Anslee, I live in Colorado. I am very fond of gaming, writing, and blogging. I share the latest news and tips about sports games, video games, gaming movies, gaming devices, and accessories. I also love watching movies and traveling.