NS Review – Wii Play (Wii)

Wii Play was released almost 10 years ago, in 2006, accompanying the birth of the Wii. While it’s not a cinematic, explosive game, bursting with almost too much content to know what to do with (in fact quite the opposite), it is a surprisingly important part of the Wii’s history.The Wii brought one of our many futuristic fantasies into modern reality: motion control. While rudimentary and not fully polished, the excitement of your own movement controlling a game struck and captivated millions. Wii Play wasn’t content rich in a traditional way, and many argue that it wasn’t anywhere near the full price one would typically pay for a game, yet it holds its own in a unique manner.

The tranquil Fishing minigame

Wii Play features 9 minigames in total. Upon starting your first file, you must play each one to unlock and advance to the next. It starts out simple enough by easing you into the controls little steps at a time, ranging from point and click, to twisting, to shaking and pivoting. Despite this, it doesn’t ever feel like a game was forced out for the sake of teaching you a new skill; each game feels justified, wholesome, and enjoyable in itself, and each happens to teach you something new about the controls. Wii Play did its job of guiding players into the new, largely uncharted world of motion controls very well. Combine this with its own original soundtrack, interesting stylistic choices, you’ve actually got a set of surprisingly enjoyable, even addictive minigames. From the minimalist Fishing minigame, where players must try and hook strange species of 2D watercolor fish, to the knitted yarn world wherein the iconic cow chase occurs, to the nod-to-Duck-Hunt-target-game, and to the ping pong rally, there’s something for almost everyone to try their hand at.

The textures are surprisingly good, some even lifelike, but almost every edge in this game suffers from horrid jaggedness, as much of the Wii era did. This is only highlighted more in contrast by the game itself attempting to look smooth, shiny, and polished within those edges (something many games of every console are guilty of). Motion controls were (and still are to this day) unrefined, so a correctly functioning WiiMote will obey a skilled player approximately 80-90% of the time, which is a pretty poor statistic, and can make for some very frustrating gameplay experiences, especially if you’re a more competitive player or trying to go for the achievements. When it does work though, it is undeniably enjoyable.

The “Shooting Range” minigame. Duck Hunt, anyone?

Overall, Wii Play may have not been the most phenomenal breakthrough of the Wii’s lifespan, but it was a surprisingly important addition nonetheless. To this day it’s still enjoyable alone or in multiplayer. Wii Play wasn’t the smartest, the prettiest, the most content-rich or the most entertaining part of the Wii’s library, but it was charming, and it paved a very good path for some future installments.

What are your experiences with Wii Play? Fond memories of party games with family and friends? Frustration from transitioning to motion controls? Did you ever end up accidentally (or on purpose) breaking something with the WiiMote? Drop us a comment below, or tweet me @MattiasMay. Thank you for reading!

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