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The must-have game of the year so far has got to be Wii-sports. The connection between player movement and on screen action was almost magical. But as this experience wanes and people start looking for some more Nintendo style competitive action they are inevitably lead us to Wii-play, at least until Wii-Music or Wii-Sports 2 emerges.
The two games obviously have very different remits. Whereas Wii-sports is all about gestures and movement, Wii-play focuses on pointing and prodding. The games included in each pack result from the two styles of interaction. The large active movements lend themselves to the sports titles, whilst the tight pinpoint accuracy of pointing is ideally suited for the leisure activities.
Wii-play offers nine different games in comparison to Wii-sports five. Although these are not as sophisticated as the sports games, there is no reason to think they will offer any less entertainment. What they may lack in depth they make up for by sheer exuberance and breadth of coverage. Such is the range of activities that you can go from shooting to fishing, from pool to table hockey or from racing to spotting.
Overall the experience of playing this collection is vastly different from the developed and honed touches of Wii-sports. This is a lot rougher round the edges.
The events are unlocked one at a time as you play through them, either on your own or with a friend. The first of the bunch is the shooting range, which offers duck hunt style play utilising the Wii-mote to shoot ever smaller and quicker targets before the other player. Find Mii is next up and offers an animated version of where's Waldo. Although in this version you are ingeniously searching for your Mii's rather then the stripped top reprobate. Table tennis has you aiming your racket with the Wii-mote's pointing ability. Mix and Match requires you to match the Mii's on the screen with the one controlled by the Wii-mote, involving much twisting and turning to get them into place, something like a video jigsaw puzzle. Laser hockey is a great interpretation of the popular arcade game, where you not only direct your bat with the Wii-mote but can also rotate it to achieve some wicked angles. Billiards, as its name suggests, provides a game of pool where you take your shot by shoving the Wii-mote towards the screen, inspired! Fishing enables you and a friend to go head to head in a cartoon pond, using the Wii-mote first to point towards the fishes, and then yank them in once you get a bite. Cow racing has you riding knitted cows down a patchwork road steering with the Wii-mote, jerking it back to jump. Finally, tanks uses the Nun-chuck to move your vehicle around the screen whilst you aim and shoot with the Wii-mote.
Quite a list I'm sure you'll agree. Some are obviously stronger than others. Tanks for example emerges to be a real tactical heavy weight as you progress through the later levels. Find Mii takes on a whole new meaning once you have a good 20-30 Mii's in you system, as you suddenly are asked to spot your Dad in amongst your friends, or identify which of your roomies is the odd one out!
However, the majority of the games appear to have got to the stage of showing what you can do with the controllers but have not been developed much further than that. At times you really do feel like you are playing a tech demo. Fishing and Mix and Match are problem the least developed of the bunch and seem to have trickier control schemes, at times they are just too fiddly to be fun.
The overall quality is good enough for the germ of each game to shine through. Frustrations aside, pretty much any of them could be taken on to be fully fledged games with out too much effort.
Overall the experience of playing this collection is vastly different from the developed and honed touches of Wii-sports. This is a lot rougher round the edges. Nintendo of America made a wise move by not releasing Wii-play until a few months after launch. This avoided too close a comparison between the two Mii based games, and I'm sure led to greater sales for Wii-play.
You can't complain for the price, as once you have taken out the price of the Wii-mote you are only paying about £5 for the lot. However, I think it would have been a lot wiser to take more time over these games, finishing each one off and delivering it as a cheap download in the online shopping channel. It would be a real asset to the console to have a team focused on providing a steady stream of innovative cheap games.
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