Wii Sports is supposed to be key to the system’s mass appeal. Rather than targeting gamers, it’s designed to appeal to everybody; rather than forcing you to control the game by manipulating two joysticks, a D-pad, six face buttons, and four shoulder buttons, it lets you just swing the controller back and forth. (Side note: one thing that wasn’t clear to me in the early coverage of the system was that the controller contains two unusual motion detection devices: there’s something that can tell where on the screen you’re pointing it (if you’re pointing it at the screen, at least), and there’s an accelerometer, to tell whether/how you’re swinging it around. This game only uses the latter (except for interacting with menus and the like). The nunchuck attachment also has an accelerometer; this game uses that for boxing, so it can tell whether or not each hand is punching.) Designed for easy accessibility, designed for multiplayer, designed to convince people who wouldn’t think of buying an Xbox to buy a Wii, after some friend or relative has forced a controller into their hand and they’ve achieved enlightenment.

Or something like that. I don’t know if I believe all the hype, but the console is continuing to sell, and Wii Sports doubtless has a lot to do with it. While my parents were here over Christmas, I did play it a few times with my dad and with Miranda; my dad wasn’t planning to buy a Wii when he got home or anything, but he did seem to be enjoying himself. Then again, I’m sure he would have enjoyed doing a lot of things with the two of us.

Tennis was our favorite game of the lot. Let me be very clear: this is not at all a sim. It’s doubles tennis (with one player in charge of two miis if you’re playing with less than four people), with the computer controlling movement: your sole responsibility is to swing at a not-too-inappropriate time. And if you swing too early, well, swing again: your mii will franticly double-take, flail, dive for the ball, leap, whatever as is required. Which looks very silly indeed on the screen, especially the dives. I smiled and laughed basically the whole time while playing the game; it really was a lot of fun.

Bowling is much more of a sim. To the extent that, at first, it was a little uncomfortable: I was trying to make natural bowling movements, but without a 15-pound ball at the end of my arm, my elbow started feeling a bit odd. I’m used to that now, though. I think this is Miranda’s favorite of the games; right now, actually, she’s better than I am, though I hope to close the gap now that I’ve given up on trying to put just the right spin on the ball. (I don’t do that in real life; why try in the game?)

She finds golf frustrating, but I think it’s pretty good. It certainly requires the most finesse of any of the games; sometimes, alas, it requires more finesse than the controller is capable of. Putting, in particular, can be a bit much: the controller seems unable to detect very small swings, so tap-ins, rather than being completely routine, turn into an annoying task of making very small swings to try to get the minimum strength that the controller registers, lest you end up several feet away on the other side. There are similar problems with chip shots near the green. Still, I enjoyed it; if I were to play the game more, golf might end up being the mode where I’d spend the most time.

Baseball and boxing, however, seemed more or less pointless. Baseball in particular seemed like a quite bad translation of the game.

Fun stuff; I’m not planning to play any more of it by myself, but I’ll happily pull it out whenever guests come over. After, of course, forcing them to make miis of themselves; I continue to think that miis are a great idea, exactly for games like this.

And no, we didn’t launch any wii remotes into our television screen, or indeed launch them at all. We did whack them a few times on furniture that was nearby, but they turned out to be sturdy enough to survive that. Good thing, too, considering how expensive they are and how hard they were to find…

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