Wii Play: Motion Review
Developers: ARZEST Corporation, Chunsoft, Good-Feel, Mitchell Corporation, Nd Cube, Prope, Skip Ltd., Vanpool
Available on: Nintendo Wii Only
It’s incredible to think that the original Wii Play came out five years ago. When it arrived, it was little more than a series of technical demonstrations that most gamers would have played for only a brief period of time before returning to superior offerings such as Wii Sports and Wario Ware. What it did offer, however, was a cheap way of procuring a Wiimote, and there was no denying that it presented decent value for your coinage. A lot of water has trickled under the bridge since then, and it is fair to say that the Wii is now in the twilight of its career, with the bonkers-looking Wii U on the horizon.
If you were to look back over the brief history of Nintendo’s mega-selling console, you would have to admit that there have been some missed opportunities. None more so that with Wii MotionPlus. When it first arrived on the scene, the winsome add-on offered much improved controls which recognised the movements and location of the controller, even if it was not pointing at your telly. It made Wii Sports Resort the undeniable king of the motion-controlled party game, and seemed to offer a wealth of possibilities for future Wii titles.
Sadly, with the exception of Sega’s Virtua Tennis series and EA’s Tiger Woods franchise, which both made excellent use of the new peripheral, the flood of Wii MotionPlus-compatible titles did not really appear, allowing Microsoft and Sony to wade into Nintendo’s territory with the development of Kinect and Move respectively. This is why it comes as something of a surprise to see that Nintendo have seen fit to not only come up with a new Wii Play sequel, but have also designed a brand new controller to play it with.
Wii Play Motion is a selection of 12 minigames that comes boxed with the new Remote Plus Wiimote, a wonderful-looking shiny red beauty which is effectively a Wiimote with the Wii MotionPlus thingy built into it. In the same way that its predecessor served to show gamers the technical capabilities of the console’s control method, Wii Play Motion is the ideal platform to demonstrate just what Wii MotionPlus can do.
Like Wii Play, the games must be tackled in a set order, with new ones being made available if you meet certain conditions. There are medals to be earned, and different modes can be unlocked by achieving set goals in some of the games. Your own Mii characters are used to good effect within the game, and aesthetically speaking, the game is pretty much what you would expect from Nintendo: big, bold and colourful graphics underpinned with charming ditties. While there is the odd dud amongst the offerings, on the whole Wii Play: Motion contains a far greater ratio of hits to misses, making it much more of a success that its 2006 counterpart. Allow us to talk you through each of the blighters.
CONE ZONE: First off the blocks, Cone Zone is a mightily fun exercise in balancing a giant ice-cream cornet as humongous scoops of ice cream are deposited into it from above. You hold your controller vertically and attempt to stop your enormous confection from teetering and falling over. It is great fun, and cracking the standard scoop mode allows you to engage a mode where swirly ice cream van, 99-style ice cream is poured into your cone by some horrifically cruel Mr Whippy in the sky.
VEGGIE GUARDIN’: One of the poorest efforts of the bunch. It nicks the Whack-A-Mole concept, as you have to wield a hammer and brain the critters that pop up and attempt to steal your vegetables. Occasionally Mii characters will pop up and you are penalized for hitting them; beat on a string of enemies and your hammer is powered up, and that is about it. What initially seems like great fun (who doesn’t like hitting things with hammers?) becomes a chore when you realise the action is too frantic and it is far too easy to lose control.
SKIP SKIMMER: Taking its cues from the Frisbee game in Wii Sports Resort, Skip Skimmer allows you to select a flat stone and then use a backhand motion to skim it across the water. Very simple, yet somehow rather charming, Skip Skimmer changes things up by replacing stones with novelty items such as flying saucers, musical notes and frogs which skate across the waters surface with differing comical results.
TRIGGER TWIST: In the same way that Wii Play included a shooting gallery pastiche, Wii Play Motion includes Trigger Twist, which allows you to turn and shoot targets within a 360 degree field of vision. This sounds like it should be fun, but the movement and actual aiming are slow, and there is very little precision. You simply endeavour to blast away at targets in succession, which include the usual tin cans, ducks and UFOs, with a score multiplier as your only reward for nailing them without missing. I hate to drag this up, but Namco, if you are reading this: it still isn’t too late for you to make a Point Blank game for the Wii.
JUMP PARK: The next offering brings things back in line, and is a complete hoot. You control a spring-heeled Mii who will bounce in whichever direction he is pointed. The bouncy playing field is littered with gemstones that you have to collect in order to progress. You simply use the scenery to career around, nab all of the sparkly stones and then locate the exit. The gameplay is fun, easy to pick up and intuitive.
TEETER TARGETS: A curious pinball-like affair, Teeter Targerts requires you to use the controller in a see-saw fashion to operate a flipper-like platform and ping a ball into various targets. It has accurate controls, maybe even too sensitive, but is a fun diversion.
POSE MII PLUS: Taking the twisty, turny posing action from 2006 and giving it a makeover, Pose Mii Plus requires you to rotate your Mii into various poses and ensure that they are in the right position to pass through the gaps in the obstacles you encounter as you career through a winding tunnel.
WIND RUNNER: This strange variation on the racing genre gives your Mii an umbrella to catch the wind so they can career around a Mario Kart-style track collecting gems. It is a hoot, and conquering the main mode will unlock a Long Jump mode in which you attempt to use the brolly to propel yourself as far as possible.
FLUTTER FLY: A knackering affair where you flap your arms in order to propel balloons through hoops. It ultimately fails because you are also required to blast enemies that attempt to attack your balloons, and doing too much at once seems to confuse the Wiimote in the same way as the frantic Veggie Guardin’ does.
STAR SHUTTLE: This game makes fine use of the Wii MotionPlus, as you use the motion controls and the d-pad to build a space station by docking your spaceship, which carries the various components needed to complete the task. The use of thrust in the gravity-free environment makes this a tricky, yet highly rewarding affair.
TREASURE TWIRL: The excellent Treasure Twirl sees you sending your Mii diving down into the ocean by twirling the controller in your hand one way, and then twirling it the opposite direction to return to the surface having plundered whatever treasure you can find in the depths. There are obstacles to avoid along the way and tilting the controller allows you to steer around them.
SPOOKY SEARCH: Finally we have Spooky Search, which marries Ghostbusters to Luigi’s Mansion and is easily the best game in the collection. You use the remote to scan a haunted house backdrop, and are alerted to the presence of ghostly apparitions by sound cues emanating from the Wii Remote Plus. Once you have located a spook, you engage a Wii approximation of the Proton Pack to reel their ectoplasmic asses in before they can attack and abduct the other Mii characters that inhabit the ghost-laden house. Brilliant fun, particularly in co-op, this would have worked well as a standalone WiiWare release.
VERDICT: Even though the Wii MotionPlus is now effectively obsolete given the superior motion controlled peripherals available elsewhere, and the Wii cannot have much more time left in its lifespan, there is a massive new Legend Of Zelda game on the horizon that promises exceptional use of the hardware. This selection of games might not always hit the spot, but it has a decent enough strike rate, and given the price point, if you want a Wii Remote Plus this is a good way of procuring one and testing out what it can offer.
The compendium which sold by the bucket-load in 2006 contained nothing that came anywhere near the quality demonstrated by the likes of Spooky Search or Cone Zone, and it goes without saying that this is a far superior release to the original. However, we cannot help but think it has come about two years too late.