Innovation. A Wee bit away?
Ever since Nintendo showed off the motion-sensing capabilities of the Wii at the Tokyo Game Show, gamers have all been asking a single question. Wii: Gimmick or innovation? It didn't take very long for Nintendo to provide the answer. During their Press Conference at E3 Nintendo showed a demo of Wii Sports. A very simplistic game but touted to be the perfect introduction to the motion-sensing capabilities of the Wii. This statement was reinforced when Nintendo later announced that Wii Sports will come free with every console (excluding Japan). Tennis, Baseball, Bowling, Golf and Boxing make up the five titles included in Wii Sports. The important question is does Wii Sports achieve what it sets out deliver?
Delivering an ace
The premiere title of Wii Sports is undoubtedly Tennis. The game places players in a Doubles Match of Tennis, choosing to play the best of 1, 3 or 5 sets. One thing you are sure to notice five minutes after booting up the game is the simplicity of controls. This holds true for Tennis as the only task appointed to the player is to swing the controller like one would a tennis racket. Flicking and swinging the controller on a serve will cause the player to throw the ball up and serve it. After that, one merely keeps swinging to hit the ball. And unless your 'doubles' partner is computer- or human-controlled (as in a second player), swinging the remote will cause both players to swing the racket simultaneously.
It is rather simple and somewhat disappointing to have no control over the placement of the athletes. The computer decides where your players run, bringing an element of luck into the game. While the computer is usually good at getting the athletes to the right position, there are times when you will not be able to reach the ball. It gets frustrating to lose a close game because of events outside your control. Granted, while controlling the movements of the players is restrictive -or maybe we should say non-existent- the game is competent at recognizing how you hit the ball. A good example of this is how the game manages to recognize the difference between forehand and backhand shots.
The direction of the ball is determined by the angle of the controller when contact is made. It is also possible to add spin, slice or lob the ball depending on how it is hit. Swinging the racket at an upwards angle lobs the ball. The opposite will slice the ball. Adding spin to the ball is much harder to achieve though. It seems to be based more on luck than skill as the game doesn't always recognize the motion.
Swinging the bat
Next in the batting order is Baseball which is somewhat more lackluster than Tennis. The game is played over three innings giving players the opportunity to bat and pitch. Batting is accomplished by swinging the controller. Like Tennis, timing is everything as it controls the direction of the ball. At first batting can be somewhat difficult as the time in which the bat must be swung to make contact is minuscule. The player doesn't have the opportunity to choose how many bases they cover and basically decides how far you run depending on how long it takes a fielder to get to the ball. Pitching is executed by holding the controller vertically and slashing down. Pressing buttons will alter the type of pitch (screwball, fastball, etc). The repetitive nature of pitching feels more like a chore than a game. What makes things worse is the lousy motion-sensing. If players raise the controller up too fast the game misreads the motion and pitches the ball. This may not sound too bad but the speed at which it pitches is slow, usually giving the player an easy hit.
As in Tennis, movement is computer-operated. The computer takes charge of fielding and while the ball usually gets scooped up rather quickly, there are times when the fielders chase the ball like headless chickens giving the opponent extra time to cover bases.
No Pros and Cons at this time