Review: Wii Play Motion

Back when Wii Play Motion was announced earlier this year, most Nintendo nerds like me forgot that it’s actually a sequel to 2007’s very divisive Wii Play. Now that game everyone remembers, although not for the greatest reasons: a 58 on Metacritic, it was mostly cherished for the fact that you got a controller and a game for $50.

It sold well, but as everyone always points out — it was because there was a controller in the bundle!

That may not be completely true, though. A long four years ago, the term “casual gaming” meant Wii in general: everything it stood for, everything it was. Grandparents and little kids, old and young; it was for everyone. My dad actually picked up video games for the first time since the late 90s thanks to Wii Sports. And you know what? He loved Wii Play.

Which leads me to believe that a lot of people probably enjoyed the game. Hardcore gamers? No. Wii Play wasn’t meant for them, and that’s probably why it’s still remembered as a weak cash-in.

Motion gaming is still here and doing alright, but that’s mostly thanks to the widespread (and waning?) popularity of the Kinect. Once skeptical of the creepy XBox accessory, Dance Central made me believe. It is one of the best motion-based games I’ve ever played. But what are the casual Wii gamers of 2007 playing now? More specifically, what’s my dad playing?

Why, he’s playing on his iPod Touch. Casual gaming is now on the go, in your pocket, cheap and has nothing to do with moving your hands over here and over there.

Which places Wii Play Motion in an interesting quandary. Who is this game for? Is it to bring back lapsed Wii gamers into the fold? Or is there still a decent market out there for Wii Play players?

Nintendo combated the general nerd gamer fatigue over depth-less mini-game compilations by providing a list of developers up front: Skip, Good-Feel, Mitchell, Prope. These people brought us games like Chibi-Robo, Wario Land: Shake It, Let’s Tap, Kirby’s Epic Yarn. There was sudden hope among us nerds. This could be the ultimate party game, or like something.

Well, it’s not.

That isn’t to say it’s a terrible game. It’s just not that great.

Or, better yet: Wii Play Motion is slightly better than Wii Play. If you loved Wii Play, you will fucking LOVE THIS GAME.

The grand package includes 12 mini-games and a shiny new Wii MotionPlus controller. For $50, this is of course a good deal (unless gaming to you means new games for a buck). But if you didn’t like Wii Play at all, or even a little bit, you’re better off waiting for the upcoming Skyward Sword bundle or just buying a new controller on its own for $10 less. At least you won’t have a game you don’t play providing more clutter on your nerdy shelf.

Me? I liked Wii Play. It wasn’t amazing, of course, and was promptly traded in, but it was harmless fun with a nice generic-fied presentation. Some games were better than others, and playing with other people was always a good time. I actually have really good memories of playing fishing and table tennis with my dad. The best one was billards — even though it had awkward controls, my dad was such a champ.

So I naturally like Wii Play Motion. I find the menus attractive and most of the games fun. Playing by oneself is always an “alright” experience that fades quickly, but playing with someone else is an easy way to laugh and have a good time.

The best mini-games are Teeter Targets (Peggle with a teeter totter), Cone Zone (with another person, though — balance as many scoops of ice cream as you can on a giant cone) and Treasure Twirl (find treasure in decently designed levels while avoiding obstacles).

The rest are fairly good and have their moments, minus two: Pose Mii Plus (a carryover from the original game, so dull) and Star Shuttle (hilariously over-complicated controls).

I have a feeling my dad would be pretty disinterested if I showed him Wii Play Motion. Sign of the times, man. I’ll bring it over to the house and will give an update. (My dad is apparently the spokesperson for the entire casual audience.)

Whether or not Motion is for you is totally up to how much you enjoyed Wii Play, if you did. If you haven’t played it, do you enjoy casual/simple games? Y/n? The MotionPlus controls do add some interesting quirks, but not enough to warrant a purchase based on them alone.

***/*****

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