The original Wii Play was a huge seller for the Nintendo Wii. On its own, it was a meager offering with only nine minigames, which were available for only two players and didn't offer the depth of other minigame compilations. It still sold well because it offered consumers a way to get another Wii Remote, and the game only cost $10 more than the price of the controller. Five years later, the Wii MotionPlus controller is now bundled with new consoles. Instead of simply changing the current Wii Play package so that all copies come with the new controller, Nintendo has gone the extra mile to produce a new title to pack with the controller — one that isn't as unfamiliar to casual players as FlingSmash. Wii Play: Motion will certainly sell to those who are only getting around to buying a Wii console. For the millions of Wii owners who remain unconvinced in the technology, however, will the games convince them that they need the new controller, or will they be better off sticking with the old remotes until The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword hits stores?
Players will notice that more thought was put into Wii Play: Motion in terms of making it something that traditional gamers will recognize. Instead of having all of the minigames open, for example, only four are unlocked from the outset. Doing well in each game not only unlocks a submode for that game but also unlocks another set of minigames until all are available. There's also a medal system in place to let you know how well you did in each game, with four medal tiers to strive for. Realistically, everything in the game can be unlocked in the span of an hour, but it is nice that they tried to create a challenge for experienced gamers, even if it is weak at best.
Wii Play: Motion consists of 12 different minigames, each one very different from the last. The first minigame is Cone Zone, which is split up into two different events. Scoop mode has you trying to balance a giant cone as more and more scoops of varying sizes are stacked on top of one another. The goal is to go as high as possible before the stack falls, and there is some excitement as the stack goes higher and scoops are placed off-center. Swirl mode, on the other hand, has you holding the same giant cone as you try to get all of the soft serve ice cream in the cone as neatly as possible. Points are doled out based on the accuracy of the swirl and how neat it is, but since there's no real increase in difficulty, don't expect to play this mode too often.
Veggie Guardin' is simply whack-a-mole with a garden theme to it. Using your mallet, you have to knock down any moles that pop up before they steal all of the vegetables on your plate. The moles start out normal at first but soon get upgraded to flying moles, moles wearing Mii masks, moles with hard hats, and extremely tall moles who throw fruit and need multiple whacks to take down. As always, the mode is frantic and quite fun as you try to hit whatever you can without accidentally hitting the Miis who are trying to replenish your vegetable supply. If you tire of that mode, though, there's Recall mode, which has you hitting the moles in the exact order presented to you earlier.
Skip Skimmer has you throwing stones at a lake as you try to make it skip the water several times before it sinks to the bottom. It's perhaps too simple, as all of the stones behave in the same manner despite their various appearances — differences that are essential if you try to do this in real life. The Score mode is more interesting, as you try to do the same thing through various rings on the course, gaining bonus points for making the stone land in the designated target area.
Trigger Twist proves to be both simple and frustrating. After selecting your enemy type, you go through wave after wave of targets and enemies, and you must try to defeat the level boss before all three of your hearts are gone. The minigame throws several different target types at you at a time. For example, you might start with only balloons as targets, but soon you'll have to shoot at ducks, tin cans, coins, small UFOs, a UFO mothership, ninjas and so forth. The variety makes it exciting, but the experience is broken by the controls. Instead of restricting you to a static screen, the game allows you to move the camera similarly to a Wii first-person shooter. The issue is that the camera is slow to turn, and there are times when the camera refuses to move even if you're pointing in the direction in which the game wants you to go. With unresponsive controls, what should've been an enjoyable distraction becomes a minigame that was done so much better by its predecessor.
Pose Mii Plus is an enhanced version of the original minigame from Wii Play. The perspective has changed to where your Mii is trying to go through a tunnel instead of through a bubble landscape, but the objective remains the same: match the shape on the walls by twisting and turning your Mii before losing all of your lives. Unlike before, this one comes at you with a frantic pace, forcing you to think about how to pass the wall and do so quickly to gain the most points. Because of that, expect this one to occupy your time between bouts with other minigames.
Jump Park has you bouncing your Mii on padded platforms as you try to collect enough gems littered throughout the level to open the escape portal and finish before time expires. The twist is that the landscape changes every time 100 gems have been obtained, making each level dynamic enough so you want to keep playing for better scores. There's also a time attack mode for those who strive to finish levels as quickly as possible.
Teeter Targets is a pretty decent pinball variant, as your goal is to hit all of the designated targets in the given time period. Your remote is held horizontally as you control a wooden paddle to guide and flick the ball toward the targets. Considering that the ball's path is determined by where you hit the ball and how hard you hit it, it takes some getting used to, but the multiple levels make the minigame worth playing for extended periods of time.
Spooky Search ends up being the most innovative game of the bunch, and it helps that it's also quite fun. During each session, ghosts come out and occupy your space, and it's up to you to wrangle all of them and send them back through the dimensional rift before time expires. The twist is that no ghosts appear on-screen. Using the speaker on your Wiimote as well as the hints given by the Miis on-screen, you have to locate the ghosts around you by pointing to the space they occupy. Once you find them, you have to bring them to the center to capture them. As expected, some ghosts put up more of a fight, requiring you to constantly snap them back to the portal until they're weak enough to capture. The use of the player's space is what really makes it fun, as your play space is no longer restricted to your screen size, so it's a very involving game. It's something that players wished the Wii did more often; it becomes a bittersweet victory to finally see this implemented so late in the Wii life cycle.
Wind Runner is this compilation's racing game and an inventive one at that. Using an umbrella, you use the wind currents as your means of acceleration as you whip through the different courses and try to make it to the finish line while collecting as many gems as possible. Once you tire of that, you can try to best your fastest times in Time Trial mode. Despite the quirk factor, the tracks are well designed and lots of fun when played against multiple people.
Treasure Twirl also employs a control method rarely used on the system before. You play a diver that must try to capture as much treasure as possible without running out of air and getting caught by the aquatic wildlife. Holding the remote horizontally, you roll the remote toward the screen to send the diver down and roll it toward you to send the diver back to the surface, with the tilt determining which direction the diver is leaning toward on the screen. It's an interesting minigame, and while the early stages are painfully easy, the latter ones are challenging enough to try multiple times.
Flutter Fly is another game that is good on paper but is hampered by odd controls. You have to use your leaf to blow a set of balloons, guide it through a maze and to the goal area. To do so, you have to hold the remote vertically and twisted to the side as you wave it back and forth toward the direction you want the balloons to go. On occasion, a crow will fly by, requiring you to point at the remote and shoot it to scare it off. The odd angle in which the remote must be held will throw off people, and the constant motion doesn't exactly lend itself to enjoyment. Still, the mazes are laid out well enough to play through it a few times.
Star Shuttle, the final minigame in the batch, also turns out to be the most difficult one. You have to attach a part to a space station in the allotted time period. To do so, you have to use your ship's six thrusters to precisely attach the part without crashing too many times or running out of time. No matter how hard you try, though, it never feels like you can get a precise line to your target area, and considering how many times you'll constantly veer off course, go in reverse, or simply crash into objects, the sudden frustration will likely prevent its target audience from trying it more than once.
Aside from the nature of some of the minigames, one thing players will notice is that it doesn't feel like some minigames needed the new controller at all. Veggie Guardin' and Trigger Twist stand out in this regard since the extra fidelity provided by the controller doesn't necessarily get translated by those games. Several other minigame compilations have emulated those games well enough, proving that the MotionPlus controller is an unnecessary refinement. The same could be said for Wind Runner, since the game doesn't penalize you for being imprecise with your umbrella positioning. Star Shuttle also falls into this category, since the boosters control more of your precision than the orientation of the remote. For a game that's supposed to be a good example of Wii MotionPlus' value, having minigames that aren't capable of demonstrating that to a gamer doesn't make the title that appealing.
The other thing that people will dislike is the odd pacing of the game. With the exception of a few minigames like Veggie Guardin', the ones that feature various levels always bring up the same menu at the end of a minigame, where you get to choose to go back to the main menu, replay the same level, or proceed to the next level or minigame variation. It's not too bad with minigames that contain long levels, and there are no load times, so it isn't as if the user has to sit through long periods of inactivity. However, with minigames like Teeter Targets sporting levels so short that they can be finished in seconds, the constant menu interruption gets annoying rather quickly.
Those who have played any of the Wii-branded games from Nintendo should know exactly what to expect graphically. Character models are nicely done simply because the game uses nothing but Miis for its human participants. As expected, they are reactive facially and add some personality without saying a word. Backgrounds are the same bright and colorful ones you've seen in the game series and do a good job of showing off what a basic Wii title should look like in 480p. That doesn't mean that there aren't a few graphical surprises in store, such as the good texturing job on the ice cream scoops and soft serve swirls, but as a whole, it looks nice, if a bit too familiar by now.
Like the graphics, the sound is typical Nintendo fare. The music is whimsical and inoffensive, providing just the right vibe for each minigame setting. The sound effects come off the same way, though you get the strange feeling that you've heard them all before in earlier Nintendo-published games. The Wiimote speaker gets used more here, and it succeeds in adding more immersion than most games that use it. As expected, there are no voices, though the squeaking uttered by the Miis in a few games is surprising, since they've been silent for quite some time.
Wii Play: Motion will most likely appeal to new Wii owners who are looking for a second controller and those who want to get the improved controller anyway. For the extra $10 you spend compared to a Wii MotionPlus remote alone, the collection of minigames isn't that bad and are worth playing a few times before being shelved for newer, better titles. For those who want the game itself, the package is lacking; the collection only has 12 games, some of which aren't that exciting, control poorly or have a broken sense of flow. Buy the game for the controller, but be prepared to trade it in that same day since that's all it will take for you to grow tired of it.
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