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'Wii Play' is no 'Wii Sports', but it is still a good time

Filed under: Nintendo | Nintendo Wii
Posted by Lunabean on February 15, 2007 5:43 PM
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I found Little Miss Sunshine to be a disappointing film. Sure, I enjoyed it, but not nearly as much as I was told I would enjoy it. Yes, I laughed. Yes, I cheered the characters on. Yes, I ultimately gave it a thumbs up. However, the hype surrounding the film made me expect so very much more, and, when it came to an end, I was left asking, "Is that it?".

It is for this reason that I am dubbing Wii Play the Wii's Little Miss Sunshine. And, I'm going to do for you what I wish someone had done for me regarding both the film and the game. I'm going to lower the bar.

At this point I need to remind you that Wii Play comes bundled with a Wiimote. I say this because Wii Play is, at its core, a tutorial for how to play with your Wii. This statement, in and of itself, should put up a few red flags that would suggest gamers shouldn't expect much out of this "free" title. However, Wii Sports, the game that shocked all of us with its extreme level of awesomeness, was also a tutorial for how to play with your Wii, and it, too, was "free". This comparison is, of course, where the trouble begins for Wii Play.

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The key to dropping the bar for this game is to wrap your mind around this statement: Wii Play should not be considered a follow up to Wii Sports. Both games do offer several short games within the game, but the two titles are in different leagues.

Nothing will replace the feeling of picking up your Wii-mote for the first time and playing some Wii Tennis. Whether it be the perfect controller vibration that occurred as you hit your first serve, the realization that you were playing a game free from buttons, or the fact that you were actually swinging your arm as you would a tennis racket, the experience was one you will only feel once in your Wii's lifetime. You've already felt it, so let it go. You aren't going to feel that way about another Wii game ever again.

Movement is a big difference between the two games. Sure, you can play Wii Sports while lounging on your couch using short and quick movements, but, if that's the route you choose to take, you do so knowing you're not experiencing the game the way it was intended. On the other hand, standing while playing Wii Play actually makes the game experience awkward and clumsy.

This disconnect, between controller and game, became clear when Jer and I stood for a quick round of Ping-Pong. Both of us wanted to treat our paddles as we did our tennis rackets from Wii Sports, which meant frustration was soon to follow.

The paddles simply didn't respond in the way we expected them to respond. Instead, we both felt like the game was losing our controllers' signals, and both of us were at a loss regarding the direction we needed to be swinging. After deciding to sit down and regroup, we discovered that the Wii's Ping-Pong is really just a fancy version of Pong, as, all you're required to do it flatly guide your paddle right and left so it intersects with the ball. Sure, you can add a touch of spin here and there, but, really, there's not much more to it. Also, like the game's second form of Pong, Laser Hockey, speed is automatically increased with each successful return of the ball. How good you hit a ball has nothing to do with it.

Wii Play can be played with a partner or by yourself. Wii Sports was, undoubtedly, more fun with a friend. It worked you up. The competition was real. It allowed kids to yell, "In your face" to their parents and grandparents and not get in trouble. Wii Play, on the other hand, is more fun by yourself. Yes, it's possible I feel this way because Jer is, apparently, the Rain Man of Wii Play. Seriously, the speed at which he hits the targets in the Duck Hunt-esque shooting game is bizarre, and makes it no fun for, say, a normal person to compete. However, I stand by my belief that the game is more fun by yourself.

Because it's hard to get worked up or competitive over Pong or a slow (but fun) game of Billiards, Wii Play provides more of a detached competition. You'll often find yourself playing the game with a smile on your face, but you may also notice little more than a hum bouncing around your brain. There's very little, if any, strategizing involved. It simply is what it is. This is why I enjoy the single player mode, as you have a goal to keep in that humming mind, and that goal is to get a gold medal in each of the nine games. This is what provides Wii Play's greatest challenge, even for Jeremy (with the exception of the shooting game, which he nailed on the first try).

Again, Wii Play is fun. It is challenging. It will keep you pleasantly occupied. However, I'd put a time limit on the fun factor, and I'd put it at about 7 - 10 hours. For the record, Jer and I are still having fun with Wii Sports, three months after its release.

In summary: If you need a new Wiimote (and most do, as they are as scarce as the Wii), you have a solid excuse to buy Wii Play. However, if you have all of the Wiimotes you'll ever need, it is my suggestion that "hardcore" gamers rent this one, as they'll blow through it in a few hours. If you're a casual gamer who just wants a new and easy game to pop into your Wii. go ahead and give it a buy. Just lower the bar before you insert the disc. (Ditto with Little Miss Sunshine).

Buy Wii Play from Amazon

Rent Wii Play from GameFly

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