Whatever else happens in the franchise from here on, the original Wii Sports will always have a place in gaming history. This is because it was one of the games that was released along with the Wii when the console was first introduced to the world.
The Wii was a fresh face, a new entrant to the market that was then dominated by Sony and Microsoft consoles. The Wii appealed to whole new niche of gamers and based its success off marketing its products directly and successfully to this new demographic. It would make sense on paper therefore, to release one of the games that was part of the success of the Wii, for the Wii U as well. The Wii U, for a variety of reasons, hasn’t managed to gain as much of a foothold in the console market as its predecessor did. And the updated version of Wii Sports has lost some of its novelty, now that several games like it have been published since the original game came out.
The New with the Wii U:
The new Wii Sports Club also features the same five games that the previous version had – Golf, Boxing, Baseball, Tennis and Bowling. If you’ve played the previous game, you’ll notice that the individual sports have the same kind of gameplay, more or less. You have to use the Wii motion controller, the MotionPlus, to perform whatever actions the particular sport requires you to. For example, Tennis might need you to simulate a racket swing, while Boxing will have you swinging punches. The new and improved motion controller on the Wii U certainly makes these actions feel more intuitive and smooth than they did before. Some of the games require you to use the gamepad in conjunction with the motion controller. In Golf, for example, you keep the gamepad on the floor, which is indicative of where the ball would be placed on an actual field. Then, you swing with your motion controller to drive the ball wherever you want to. In Baseball, you can use the gamepad to simulate pitches and even catching, which adds an extra touch of fun to the proceedings. By and large though, you will be swinging and swaying your motion controller in front of your screen.
The Game Play:
The individual sporting events also feature a new set of minigame challenges. In the Golf minigame, you have to play bingo on a grid by driving golf balls into appropriate positions. In the Tennis section, you can play a game that allows you to hit targets in a whack-a-mole arrangement, much like the ones you might have seen in the Virtua Tennis series of games. If you get tired playing the traditional sports, you can occasionally turn to these for a change of pace. Unfortunately, these minigames are very short, so you’ll have to get back to the main course rather quickly.
The original Wii Sports gained popularity because of the variety of game modes and features. This one however, doesn’t fare so well in the online department. When you go online, you are asked to join a region that corresponds to your geographical location. While you can see the thought that the makers had behind this mechanic, it doesn’t translate very well into the actual game. It might have been interesting to form clubs and develop rivalries in your general area, but the online mode doesn’t work well enough to make this happen.
For one, there are barely any modes or variations you can pick when you get online. You play the vanilla version of each sport, without the option to add or modify rules. Even after you accept this, you have to come to terms with the fact that you might have to wait a long time to find an opponent. As the game stands right now, there aren’t too many players online, even on weekends. And if you’ve chosen a region where there aren’t too many gamers with a Wii U, then you’re just plain out of luck. Tennis is one of the more popular sports, so you’re most likely to find people online to play it with. But surely, you might ask, this couldn’t be a simple matter of just not having players online at the exact moment you are? And you would be correct in your assumption. Across the board, the Wii Sports Club online experience is shoddy. You experience frequent lags, stutters and disconnections. You’ll find a lot of threads on the Miiverse discussing this exact problem.
To make matters worse, the updated version doesn’t really add anything significant to the original Wii Sports. If anything, the fancy new gamepad features make the game less accessible to newer players. There’s also the small matter of one of your friends accidentally stepping onto the gamepad if you’re playing in a small room. The game is also priced rather weirdly. It is available as a free download, but you can only play for a certain amount of time before you have to pay money to keep accessing your sports. You can choose to download the retail version, but this beats the point of having a game that demonstrates the features of your console.
Wii Sports Club is another game that has fallen prey to Nintendo’s problematic decision-making when it comes to distributing online content. The shoddy multiplayer, silly pricing model and the lack of any significant new features makes this a tough game to recommend, even if it is fun to play in small doses.
Game Score: 5.5 Out of 10
Release Date: 2014
Players: Single-player, multiplayer
Console: Nintendo Wii U
Section: Video Game Reviews