Wii Play Motion: Once more, with feeling

June 24, 2011

The original Wii Play was largely a tutorial for the Wii remote, disguised as a series of simple games and bundled with a controller for not much more money. It racked up sales, not because it was a particularly desirable disc to have, but because it was usually a cheap way to snag another controller. Wii Play Motion, bundled this time with a Remote Plus and showing off its advanced functionality, bears quite the resemblance to its predecessor. The difference? Though none of the twelve included minigames show any sort of advanced replayability or draw, they feel like they have just a bit more personality to them. It’s enough to make an already-short experience a bit sweeter.

Our theory behind the character boost is this: the games in Wii Play Motion were done as a series of small projects by different studios, from Prope to Skip and more. The result is something like the All-Star Weekend of games: a bunch of guys having fun, showing off a bit and not exactly showing good fundamentals or working well together. Anyway, since there’s no real progression or cohesion to the games, we’ll go through them one-by-one.

Cone Zone: In this one, you balance scoops of ice cream by holding the Remote vertically. It’s a simple see-how-many-you-can-balance game, and we had the most success when we got in a rhythm of moving back and forth. Holding things steady just won’t cut it, as the scoops are placed at awkward angles.

Veggie Guardin’: Did you want a whack-a-mole minigame? Because that’s what this is. Hit the moles before they can steal your food. Don’t hit the Miis bringing you more food. You keep going until you lose all your food. There’s an extra Simon-style pattern memorization mode, but we weren’t too impressed with it.

Skip Skimmer: Take the disc-throwing antics of other games and modify it into a one-shot stone-skipping competition. There’s an apparent sweet spot where you can get almost double the bounces, and we couldn’t quite replicate it. It’s unfortunate, because if it were a pure skill-based competition, we might have a lot of fun with friends. Still, it’s one of the most natural uses of the tech.

Trigger Twist: This one appears to be the spiritual successor to Duck Hunt. (In fact, it makes quite a few references to the original, including appearances by the ducks themselves.) The catch here: some enemies are to the left and right of the screen, so you’ll have to move around Face Raiders-style. If it were possible for it to work as well as Face Raiders, we’d like it, but you can’t swing your TV around with you, so moving while still facing forward is a little less than ideal.

Pose Mii Plus: More fun than we thought it’d be. You use the remote to rotate your Mii to fit through a specifically-shaped hole, cycling through various poses and angles. It’s simple, but it works.

Jump Park: Bounce around to collect gems. You jump at the angle you’re facing, which is determined by the tilt of your controller. You can essentially ground-pound off the springs on the side to force a jump across. Initially a lot of fun, but sometimes it’s just too simple.

Teeter Targets: Our favorite in the collection. It’s essentially a pinball-like setup, where you tilt paddles to flick marbles into targets. We wish it were a bit more fleshed-out, and that the levels were more intricate (possibly like Smash Bros.’ target-breaking challenges).

Spooky Search: Hey, who else forgot for a while there that remotes have speakers in them? It’s been a while since we’ve seen them put to good use, and this game uses it as a ghost detector radar. See, the ghosts are all around you, and you have to hit the button to catch them without seeing them. It’s an interesting concept and fun for… a play or two.

Wind Runner: We liked this one about gliding down a track and collecting gems. You tilt the controller to tilt the umbrella, and this lets you jump up, speed forward, slow down or steer.  This could have been fleshed out with a robust multiplayer experience and been more fun to play than, say, Nintendo’s own Donkey Kong Barrel Blast. As it is, it’s a decent time.

Treasure Twirl: Seemingly inspired by the old Game & Watch game, you go down into the ocean, retrieve treasure chests and try to make it back up to the surface with them. The controls here are strange: you tilt to move left and right, but most control is done with holding the remote like handlebars and twisting it forward and backward to let out the cable you’re hanging on and move higher and lower in the water.

Flutter Fly: This one’s a course-navigation game, where you’re a leaf able to fan balloons holding your Mii and direct it through the sky to its target. It’s a lot of fun except for one thing: birds. These were clearly added in to increase difficulty, but we mostly experienced frustration; while the rest of the game is controlled by motion, you must point at the screen and hit birds with a cursor, and the two movements just don’t go well together.

Star Shuttle: Essentially Lunar Lander with an over-the-shoulder camera. You tilt and use thrusters on various sides with the D-pad, A and B buttons, and you have to dock a space shuttle part at the correct location. The challenge here is doing things quickly without crashing into the craft.

So that’s it. Wii Play Motion isn’t a game to rush out and pick up, but if you want another Remote Plus, it’s a fun little bonus, and you’ll probably get more out of it than the original Wii Play.

Pros: Cheap bonus for a remote, more charm than the original

Cons: Still not much staying power

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.