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Wii-Play Motion sounds like another derivative Wii game, but is actually another helping of family gaming magic.
Wii-Play Motion is the follow up to Wii-Play, the Wii launch game. Unlike the original though, that relied totally on the Wii's fiddly (and frustrating for young players) pointing mechanic, Wii-Play Motion uses the new MotionPlus controllers to make things easier and more accurate.
It's a game that is getting mediocre reviews and would be suggested for families at a push. However, what's gone unnoticed is how magical the Wii experience continues to be to young players, and how good a fit these short challenges with hidden depth are for families.
Of course not all the games are as good as each other, and the ones you and your family lock onto will probably be different depending on your ages and interests. For us though, Skip Skimmer was an instant hit. This game uses the increased accuracy of the MotionPlus controller to get you skimming stones across a lake. Get the angle and power just right and it will make more skips.
It's the sort of simple game that made Wii-Sports such a good ambassador for the Wii experience. Here, like back then, there is also a fair amount of depth. As you improve your skimming you can unlock new stones with special abilities. You can even aim to reach the island in the middle of the lack for extra points.
After a little bit of practice, and realising you need to follow through with your throw (rather than just flick your wrist) my kids (3, 6 and 8) spent a happy afternoon just playing this. You each take it in turns, but by using one Wii-mote each this meant they didn't have to keep switching controllers - something that can be a paid if, like me, you insist they wear the wrist strap.
My wife and I enjoyed the stacking, balancing challenge of Cone Zone. You have to try and create a teetering tower of ice cream without it falling over. The kids found this one a little too tricky though, with the MotionPlus demanding a surprising amount of fine control to get past even the first level.
Veggie Garden was more up their street, and its mole whacking mechanic needed no introduction. The MotionPlus was a little twitchy at times - resulting in some poor innocent Mii's getting clobbered, but the sheer exuberance of it all had the kids in constant hysterics.
Made us wish it was a full stand alone game.
Flutter Fly was enjoyed with equal enthusiasm and offers another exuberant challenge. Here you are flapping your Wii-mote to fan a balloon through a maze. It starts simply but soon ups the difficulty. For the kids this was again pitched just right with a nice drip feed of new features and novelties.
Spooky Search was, by some way, the star of the collection for us though. It's a little like Luigi's Mansion 2 (3DS), which is coming soon, you search a variety of mansion locations for wayward spirits and ghouls. Although the other games feel well thought through, it's only this one that has the feel of Wii-Sports Tennis or Wii-Sports Resort Table Tennis - that again made us wish it was a full stand alone game.
You search for ghosts by pointing the Wii-mote, something that is a lot less fiddly with the MotionPlus controller. Also this lets the Wii track your movements while not pointing at the screen, and this is used in the game to find ghosts hiding around your living room. This seemed to transfix our youngest and his eyes opened wide with amazement to discover what had been sharing his TV space all these years.
Once you find a ghost you can all work together to capture it - by each player pointing and directing with their Wii-mote simultaneously. I know it sounds a little far fetched, but I would really have been happy to pay full price for this game alone - such was the level of enjoyment that my kids got from this imaginative way to play. In fact it lead to a general fascination with Ghosts and Ghost stories which now has them reading all manner of scary tales.
Although we keep going back to Spooky Search, the other games are also pretty good. Wind Runner reminded me of F-Zero on the SNES, here though you have to use a Wii-mote controlled umbrella to catch some wind and propel you along the track. Jump Park is a breakout style game, but with Mii's bouncing off the walls. Pose Mii Plus is like the original game but with an action game twist. Then there's Trigger Twist, a shooting gallery where you can shoot targets both on and off the screen - much to our kid's delight.
It lead to a general fascination with Ghosts and Ghost stories which now has them reading all manner of scary tales.
Star Shuttle was the game we struggled with the most. The kids complained that it was too hard for them to play, and I must admit that even when I took over the controls I had a hard time making consistent progress.
Treasure Twirl is an underwater search for treasure, and Teeter Targets another aiming game round off the collection. Or so we thought until we happened to leave the game at the title screen. Do this for long enough and another four games are available. One of these was similar to Endless Ocean (a previous big hit without family) although you are controlling a dolphin rather than a diver. Another was a Unicycle challenge where you have to wobble your way through a Monkey Ball style balancing course, this was very tricky but also very addictive. There was also a pseudo game here that presents you with a MotionPlus controlled Kaleidoscope - something out youngest seems to play more than the main games now.
This leaves me impresses with Nintendo's ability to still follow through on their motion gaming delivery. Not happy to sit back on their laurels (as the success of Wii-Sports and Wii-Party may give them cause), and not distracted by either Move or Kinect, they have delivered another magical package of games here.
Although there are times when the technology struggles, by and large this all works a treat. The combination of simplicity, imagination and their magical detection of the controller movement is something that still makes me (and my kids) smile.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: