Wii Sports - WII - Preview
E3 2006 Hands On Preview
Nintendo’s awesome-looking, exquisitely designed videos of sports games turned out to be a collection of tech demos. While it was disappointing to hear that they were not full-fledged games (yet), the purpose of these demos is to show what Wii can do.
If you think back to past game consoles, you’ll remember tech demos as being graphically rich items that are moderately impressive but not worth buying. The actual game spawned from those demos may turn out to be a 10, but the demos – not so much.
That is not the case with Wii Sports. These games (golf, baseball, tennis, and airplane) are some of the best gameplay experiences I have ever had. Granted, each was only about six minutes in length, but the fun and enormous potential is incredible.
Wii Sports: Airplane
Another game that challenges players to use the Wii remote in a unique way, Wii Sports: Airplane is a breathtaking flight simulator. While you are not required to hold the remote in any particular fashion, Nintendo encouraged attendees to hold it like they would a paper airplane (just for this game, mind you). It sounded a bit odd until the demo began a few seconds later. Upon its start I became instantly and completely captivated. The tiniest touch made the plane move. Tilt the remote up to gain altitude; tilt it down to descend. Tilting it left or right turns the plane, and you can combine all of those sensitivities to pull off a cornucopia of endless maneuvers.
The goal of the demo was to fly through all the rings. I didn’t succeed – Nintendo timed each of the Wii Sports games to keep the massive lines moving. In the five or so minutes allotted, I went from an Airplane newbie to someone who could pick up the controller and play without even thinking about it. I wouldn’t call it simple, but it’s not complex either. It’s an amazingly clever idea that, according to rumors and speculation, Nintendo wants to turn into a new Pilot Wings. I can’t understand why they wouldn’t – I left that demo with the biggest smile on my face.
I’ve played a lot of flight games at home, in the arcade, and a couple on the PC, and none of them have as precise a control system as this one. I know I probably sound crazy to be praising a tech demo so heavily, but I look at it this way: if this is the appetizer before the big meal, just think of how good the real games are going to taste.
If this does turn out to be a real game, I’d buy a Wii just to play it. You would too – it was brilliant.
Wii Sports: Golf
“Have you ever played golf before?” asked the game instructor. She was one of many models Nintendo had promoting their titles, but her job was a bit more complex than the average booth babe. She, unlike the rest, had to give me a lesson in a sport I had never played before.
Wii Sports: Golf marks the first time I have ever played a sports game where I couldn’t just pick up the controller, press a few buttons and succeed. The demo didn’t use any buttons, and players were only required to do one thing: swing the club (the Wii remote).
This would’ve been pretty easy in a game world. But this demo shot for true realism, which is why Nintendo had someone explaining how to stand, how to hold the remote, and how to swing.
The demo picked up my [single] good swing and picked up all of my mistakes. It was the kind of thing I’d really have to practice playing. At the same time, I feel that players who had golfed before would be able to jump right in without needing a lesson.
This is where that dream Nintendo has – the dream of getting people who don’t play games to finally try them – starts to become a reality. If Nintendo can emulate the experience of real sports in a game, they’ll open the door for thousands of people. While playing Wii Sports, I kept thinking of my uncle, my cousins, and a few of my friends – people who aren’t necessarily gamers, but would love these “real” sports titles.
Wii Sports: Baseball
You’re the batter, and the Wii remote is your bat. Every swing, every motion, even the turning of your wrists, had an in-game effect. Speed played a major role – Wii actually detected the speed at which I swung the remote. It was amazing. I managed to hit a couple of homeruns, and the feeling of doing so was far beyond the thrill that comes with pressing a button, or pushing an analog stick. This was more like the real thing.
Wii Sports: Tennis
Tennis was the simplest of the four demos, and also the least realistic. It was accurate in picking up my swings, but it did not have as much sensitivity attached. I could swing really hard or very lightly and the results weren’t all that different. Athlete movement was automatic. The only thing players had to do was swing the remote. It was cool, and I’m sure it could be turned into a great game. But after being blown away by the first three tech demos, Wii Sports: Tennis didn’t live up to expectations.