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Table Football on Wii produces some authentic sporting moments, whilst never quite shaking off its fidgety pointing controls. Those who are willing to invest the time will find a well rounded simulation of Table Football, although one that is crying out for the additional accuracy offered from the upcoming Wii-Mote MotionPlus add-on.
We had a miniature table football game at my previous office, and for one magical summer work was punctuated by this desktop version of the popular pub and youth centre pastime. What on the surface appeared to be a very simple game, and one consisting more of luck than skill, soon turned into a highly honed art amongst my colleagues.
There were some who would frantically waggle their players around hoping to get lucky and score a goal, but the top players in the office each developed their own strategies. Some would tip-tap the ball between players on the same rod, disorienting their opponent before delivering a blistering shot. Others would caress their players deftly over the ball, dragging it 'oh so slightly' left or right, to get those important few millimetres clear of the defender before going for goal. Then there were players like me who relied mainly on strong defensive play, becoming adept at saving shots with the last line of defenders and the all important goal keeper. I would bid my time until the second half, where upon I'd do all I could to conjure up a counter attack and steal the game.
Table Football on Wii certainly matches this difficulty.
The end of the summer signaled the end of our Manager's tolerance for workplace games, so we moved onto a full sized table handily discovered in a pub that many of us past on the way home. More space and a bigger scale gave us room to hone our tactics, and many long evenings (and late nights) were spent fixated by the game in the corner of the busy bar.
This lengthy preamble is suffice to say that I was excited to get my hand on Table Football for Wii the other day. Not being able to afford my own table at home I was looking forward to getting in some stick man footballing action with friends and family. And indeed first impressions are excellent. A comprehensive set of options enable you setup games from any of the Table Footballing rule sets and select a variety of pitches, opponents and balls.
This last option is crucial as, in Table Football the ball weight and material is the main determining factor of the speed, bounce and flight achievable by your players. Many competition games have been lost because the competitor had not adequately adjusted his tactics to match the ball and conditions. Table Football Wii not only simulates this well, but pits you against a range of opponents who have a distinctive style to their play. The artificial players really are better than I had expected, each one matching a definite set of tactics and skills.
Table Football is not known by the masses for being a difficult game to learn. But for those of us that have put in many hours playing the game, it has become clear how hard it is to get really good. Table Football on Wii certainly matches this difficulty. In fact it was a good few hours before I even game close to winning a set of matches.
This difficulty doesn't do their controls any favours. Even on easy, players aren't given very much time to adjust to what is happening. They can grab a single rod by pointing the Wii-mote and pressing A, or control all of them at once by holding B. Players can be spun by pressing C or 1 and moved up and down the rod with the analogue stick on the Nun-chuck. Quite a lot to take in you will agree.
Some aspects of these controls I found excruciatingly frustrating. There just wasn't the fidelity of control I wanted with the analogue stick movement, and the combination of this with the Wii-mote motioned rod control seemed to tie my brain in knots.
Once I unplugged the Nun-chuck and used the Wii-mote alone a magical change took place.
However, once I unplugged the Nun-chuck and used the Wii-mote alone (for vertical motion and gesture for rotation) a magical change took place (a sort of just 'let go Luke, feel your opponent' Obi Wan Kanobi moment). I could stop worrying about the controls and get on with the mechanics of the game itself. Now, I'm not saying that this is perfect - the pointing mechanic to move players up and down the rod was at times a real struggle - but with a bit of practice I was able to get proficient enough to really enjoy playing the game. And what's more, experience the closest thing to real life Table Football I've come across. I was even able to try out some of my (admittedly defensive) play style - and with some success.
The bottom line here is that this is a game for people who like the idea (if not the reality) of playing Table Football. For me this was something of a perfect Wii game - but then I had invested many hours in the sport already. Compared to invest a few hundred pounds in a real table and the Wii game starts to look like great value. For other players, particular hardcore games, there is less of interest here I admit. Families and groups of friends will certainly find a good few evening's entertainment. But it is in the hands of an expert this is an experience that really comes to life.
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