As a pack-in, [i]Wii Sports[/i] made perfect sense for Nintendo and its unconventional console. Even as a compilation that flirted with being simply a technology demo, the athletic minigames offered enough content and overall enjoyment such that [i]Wii Sports[/i] is still listed among many Wii owners’ favorite games to break out when the urge to swing a controller arises.
Now just a few months following the system’s debut, Nintendo has released a similar collection with [i]Wii Play[/i], and though it may be tempting to pick up the game in hopes of recapturing the magic of [i]Wii Sports[/i], most will no doubt come away disappointed. Certainly, there are a couple marginally fun minigames found in the collection, but as an overall package, [i]Wii Play[/i] simply fails to drum up the same level of excitement summoned by its pack-in cousin.
Undoubtedly the most attractive feature of [i]Wii Play[/i] is its pack-in Wii remote, and for the price of $50 this certainly is not a terrible deal, though with the stand alone controller demanding $40 and some change at retail, it’s perhaps easier to come to terms with the underwhelming nature of [i]Wii Play[/i] itself. Like [i]Wii Sports[/i], [i]Wii Play[/i] offers a modest collection of minigames, each aimed at demonstrating one or more capabilities of the Wii remote. However, while [i]Wii Sports[/i] at least attempted to mask these training exercises beneath a set of genuinely engaging games, [i]Wii Play[/i] instead feels like an interactive instructional video.
Sure, there are some entertaining diversions, such as the rather obvious throwback to [i]Duck Hunt[/i] or the [i]Combat[/i]-inspired tank game, but altogether the compilation of nine games feels, for lack of a better word, unnecessary. Truth be told, at the console’s debut, there was certainly a measure of uncertainty as to how to manage the Wii remote, but three months later, that time has passed, and most players have settled into a comfort zone with the Wii or possibly have moved on in deciding that Nintendo’s latest console effort simply is not for them. In either case, this tepid collection of minigames seems suited for a task that was accomplished in a much better fashion months ago with [i]Wii Sports[/i] – a game that every Wii owner already has.
Each of the collection’s offerings supports multiplayer, which as expected does add some manner of longevity to the title. However, while [i]Wii Sports[/i] engaged up to four players simultaneously for some manic, lamp smashing fun, the games in [i]Wii Play[/i] are much more subdued, and only support two players at once. Even the most fun offerings in [i]Wii Play[/i] won’t inspire play for more than ten minutes or so, while most will be put away after a single try. With four players and a bit more depth, this package would have been considerably more attractive.
Altogether, [i]Wii Play[/i] is best left alone, unless of course you find yourself needing another Wii remote and don’t mind the little extra cost for the pack-in game. Because really, that is what this is. It’s a controller with a pack-in, and not the other way around. And as a pack-in, [i]Wii Play[/i] is decidedly lackluster, especially when compared to [i]Wii Sports[/i]. Most will play it for a few minutes before putting the game away to be forgotten, and even non-gamers drawn to the Wii will likely ask to play [i]Wii Sports[/i] instead.