Nintendo released the sequel to the hugely popular included-when-you-bought-a-Wii title Wii Sports today, and while it hasn’t really changed much since I played it at E3, I do not have to wait in a giant-ass line to play it for a bit. I’ve put in at least three hours, poring through all of the available modes, and I have to say, it is even better than I had hoped, especially with two people. I say more things about the game on the other side of the jump, so join me there.
There are a few really, really good modes. Archery is just about perfectly executed, with tight controls and enough challenge to keep me coming back. Table Tennis is this game’s version of Actual Tennis, and I think I like it a lot better than the latter due to the inclusion of almost perfect Motion Plus controls. It’s quite easy to put spin on the ball, and it adds a lot of depth to a match. As I played the game, I noticed that perfect shots cause a loud THOCK to emit from the controller, and gave the ball more speed. Sword-play is really the showcase for the game, and my only complaint is that in the duel mode it’s very easy to end a round in a draw with two conservative players. The showdown mode consists of you mowing down hundreds of your Mii friends (or those that are automatically downloaded from the Check Mii Out channel, which makes for some fun Darth Vader-ey surprises) in a sword gauntlet. My only complaint is that it seemed like the remote lost calibration halfway through some of the matches, making it difficult to block correctly. This is a little annoying. (UPDATE: After playing again, and actually reading on the on screen instructions, you can press down on the d-pad mid match to recenter, which makes it way, way better.)
Three-point shooting is a surprise. It’s very well done, and it’s a thrill to try to make accurate shots against the clock, but I think it might end up a little too easy for good players. There is a pick-up basketball game which offers a very simple version of basketball. You dribble by flicking the remote, and pass with a press on the control pad or A. You can shoot from the field, or slam dunk close to the basket (with a really satisfying downward remote motion). I need to try this mode out with another person (my roommate/guinea pig was only around for so long), but it was fun against the computer, although a little easy.
There are a few modes that most reviewers have passed off as being lame, and I might have to disagree in a few cases. For instance, I actually really enjoyed the power-cruising, and while it’s no Wave-Race, it is fun and the controls are well done. Cycling is the stupidest looking of the lot, requiring you to alternately pump the remote and the nunchuck in lieu of pedaling. You can steer with some tilts, and I actually found it challenging – if you remember your Epona racing in Ocarina of Time, where your eye kept flitting back to the carrots, you’ll understand the tradeoff inherent in this mode. Pump too fast and you’re out of breath, stop pumping to recover, which happens faster if you draft behind another racer.
The airsports are much more fun than they have any business being. Dogfighting is a silly little plane based shooter, but the addition of a free flight mode will satisfy those of you who cannot play a game unless you have to collect something. In this case, it’s little icons around Wuhu island (and the neighboring islands), where the game takes place. Get enough of them, and you’re asked to shoot balloons while you tool around, both during the day and at dusk. It’s cute to see the island where the other modes take place from above, and board member Chargrock points out that there are tennis courts on the island, so those of you who can’t stand ponging the ping might be in luck with an unlockable.
There are some other modes, like wakeboarding, and canoeing, which are both Games You Play A Few Times and then move on. Maybe you might enjoy them! I didn’t really see the point. Finally, both bowling and golf are both back, good as before (I haven’t noticed much difference in bowling, although the 100-pin mode is a really welcome addition).
So, yes, this is a long set of impressions. The short version is that this game is Good and Fun and will entertain you and your grandmother. Go get another Motion Plus (Tiger Woods is GREAT and it has one bundled) and play the crap out of this game. Get it before you can’t find it anywhere because Oprah gave it away on her show.