Wii Fanboy review: Wii Play

Upon inserting the Wii Play disc into your Wii's disc drive, you might feel elation and experience the levels of bliss only known to the few who would actually go on to write a sentence this long about some mundane physical exertion such as placing a disc into an electronic device. It's OK, we felt the same way too, and in being greeted with the snazzy music that accompanies the game's logo in the Disc Channel of your Wii, you might feel as if your life is about to change.

Well, this is where your hopes, which have soared to heights that have only before this point in time been reachable by large mechanical vessels with wings, come crashing back to the ground with so much momentum that it has leveled your entire city block. It's OK, look out your window, we'll wait ...

... done? Great! Oh, and yes, that's your car smoking in the center of the massive crater.

Now that we've taken up the requisite amount of time (47 seconds FYI) introducing our review for Wii Play, we should probably get around to reviewing it, wouldn't you say? See, at the title screen, the game very much looks like Wii Sports, and even promises some of the same thrills through its combination of 9 different mini-games. Only problem is, not even a one of these mini-games are close to the fun that one can have with Wii Sports: Bowling.

It all starts with you setting up your Mii and selecting the amount of players. From here, you're only able to access the first mini-game, which sadly is the Duck Hunt clone mini-game Shooting Range. I say sadly because this is honestly the best mini-game throughout the bunch, so placing it first really leaves the rest of the game's boring mini-games coming out of the ordeal looking that much more lackluster. And while, in comparison, Wii Play's 9 different mini-games might seem to hold more quality through its quantity over Wii Sports' 5 different sporting activities, the grim truth is that Wii Play is kind of like the awkward little brother to Wii Sports; not so popular at parties and less interesting in conversation.

So what other mini-games are there bundled in this tech demo game? Well, you have Tanks!, which is the runner-up for best game of the bunch. Here, each player moves their tank with the Wiimote's d-pad (or you can hook up the nunchuk attachment if you wish), navigating the battlefield whilst aiming with the Wiimote and firing your cannon. You also have a back-up attack that lets you lay mines with the A button. Of course, the rub lies in the fact that bullets travel really slow and with ever-moving enemies, you'll have to have some foresight if you wish to come out of the battle the victor.

Other noteable titles include the Laser Hockey mini-game, which is best described as pong on steroids. It's really hard to control your paddle and the combination of lights could give someone a mighty big headache after awhile. In retrospect, it would've been better if Nintendo asked us to hold the Wiimote pointing up and we raised and/or lowered it in response to our virtual paddle in-game. Instead, we're left pointing it at the screen in an awkward fashion which feels like everything but normal. Also, there's ping-pong, which is fun save for the fact that you cannot control hitting the ball and instead are charged with pointing where the ball is going to be, which lets the game take over the rest of the work. Once you start getting into vollies that range 50+ strong, it's incredibly tough to keep the streak going and the ball is flying about the table at ridiculous speeds. It would've been nice if Nintendo let you back away from the table more to compensate.

Still though, in the end the product does what it says it will do: train you how to use the Wiimote. And through the blurbs of text and mini-games you're presented with, you actually do learn how the Wiimote works and how one should go about using it. So in that regard, Wii Play passes with flying colors, accurately displaying the ergonomics of gesture-based gameplay to the player and promising that, in the future, all games using the Wiimote won't be as shallow as this one is.

For the sum of $49.99, however, it's just not worth it. Once you've beaten Wii Play, you don't really feel the need to come back to it. None of the games played were fun enough to warrant that. One shouldn't be looking at this package as a free Wiimote with a game, rather looking to the Wiimote for the initial appeal and considering that an almost-free game might be worth the ticket for admission. This, however, shouldn't be the case for the majority of you, as Nintendo replenishes stock of its hardware on the regular from here on out.

While we would like to say that these mini-games are what you would hope for from Nintendo (products that were lovingly made over time and convey the strictest standards of Nintendo to ensure fun for the end user), we'd be lying if we did. These are half-baked games that, in all honesty, should have been available to the public near the console's launch, or even been bundled with the system. Instead, we're asked to pay the same price for this package as we would a masterpiece like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

It's not that we're saying the game doesn't have its merits. There are times, during Shooting Range and Tanks! where we actually had a little fun, but there is nothing in this package that allows us to set its bar to anything higher than mediocre. For $10 US, we can't even say the software is worth that price.

Final Score: 4.5/10

This article was originally published on Joystiq.