Wii Remote in hand, it had been Wii Sports that inadvertently became such a killer app for the Wii. Even my parents were caught by intrigue as to what had suddenly captivated the world’s attention, marking the first time that I had successfully convinced them to play video games alongside me.
That accessible experience now makes it return, with Wii Sports Club promising just as much of a chance to get the entire family involved. While each sport has steadily been released through the Nintendo eShop, Nintendo’s continued experimentation with pricing methods having seen players choose between either a 24-hour Day Pass (£1.79) or Single-Sport Pass (£8.99), the entire quintet is now available as a complete retail package.
The undisputed party pleaser, Tennis lets up to four players take their Miis to the court to participate in either a Single Game, Best of 3 or Best of 5 match. Regardless of how many players want to get involved these are always doubles matches, and rather than over-complicating the scoring you will instead compete to secure yourself 7 points to win each match.
Taking the experience online will see you choose between challenging everyone (the easiest way to find a match), friends, or a particular opposing club, facing one another in a Single-Match. You’ll have to practice aiming your shots while you wait, although it doesn’t take long before your lined up with an opponent. The matches I played in were lag-free, with victories and losses either locally or online affecting your overall grade, which is used to indicate your skill level in each respective sport.
Controls remain intuitive, the player swinging the Wii Remote Plus upward to throw the ball into the air and then downward to hit the ball. You will then need to keep an eye on your opponents returning shots to determine whether you want to swing for either a forehand or backhand shot. There is a niggling annoyance with your efforts resulting in unexpected shots, but with practice this frustration can be reduced.
Aside from local and online multiplayer, the only other area in which you can invest your time is Skill Shaper, an assortment of minigames that will help hone your sporting prowess. These are an excessively fun portion of the experience too, with Tennis drumming up Ring Master, where low forehand and backhand shots are required as you aim through progressively smaller rings; Mole Commotion, where you must quickly hit the titular creatures to add more time to the clock; and Duck Cannon, in which you must make a mechanical duck rush around the court as much as possible.
Bowling continues to be a particular favourite of mine, if now not even better than it was before. Online and local multiplayer present you with the standard 10-Pin Game, a daunting 100-Pin Game where the highest possible score is 3,000, and Spin Control, a challenging mode where you must spin your throws to curve them around barriers positioned along the bowling lane.
Gearing up to throw your bowling ball remains unchanged, with players first keeping the Wii Remote Plus upright, holding the B button to then swing underarm and lift the button whenever they wish to release the ball. Spin can be placed by twisting the Remote Plus as you throw, allowing the opportunity to sneakily curve your shots. That perhaps risks making it sound more complicated than it actually is, but it’s one of the easiest sports to grasp how to play.
Skill Shaper returns, with Shoot for the Spares that tasks you with flattening all pins with one throw while boosting your score by hitting multipliers; Skittle Skills, which is essentially a collection of trick shots; and Triple Whammy, where you have three throws to knock as many of the 100 placed pins as possible.
Golf didn’t particularly excite me within the original Wii Sports, but notably receives the most significant overhaul in this upgraded release. That sees the Wii U GamePad integrated, inviting players to carefully position the controller on the floor to be used to visibly mark where your golf ball is. Standing over the GamePad allows you to more successfully line up your shots, your club’s face being visible on the screen as you choose whether to change the angle to curve your shots. Taking the shot itself is as simple as holding down the A button, and then swinging with as much strength as you want to apply to let your ball fly down the course. This allows a more connected experience, and is Wii Sports Club‘s most significant demonstration of the GamePad’s potential.
Taking your virtual golf career online lends 1 Hole – Friendly, 3 Holes – Random, and 9 Holes options, while local games differ with 3 Holes, 9 Holes and 18 Holes choices. Skill Shaper continues to deliver minigames galore, with Nintendo dishing up Putter Madness, handing you 10 golf balls and tasking you with successfully putting them into the holes that surround you; Bingo Clubber, where you aim for score panels and must make horizontal, vertical or diagonal lines to claim bonus points; and Target Shooter, where a hapless target floating on water is your target.
Baseball (1-2 players)
Baseball’s experience across online and local games continues to challenge players to achieve the highest score after three innings. Those batting use the Wii Remote Plus, but it is the Wii U GamePad’s introduction to fielding that switches things up. Players firstly choose whether to pitch a fastball, curveball, screwball or splitter at their opponents, holding the respective button to charge up the power meter to throw faster pitches. If the batter hits a high “fly ball,” you must then line up the ball with the ring that appears on the GamePad’s screen so that you can catch the ball. It’s simple integration, but demonstrates how the Wii U can differentiate itself from Nintendo’s competitors.
Home Run Hero, Smash Hitter and Pitch for Prizes are the training minigames served up by Skill Shaper. These task you with racking up as many home runs as you can with space for five failures, breaking down walls to claim points within the time limit, and targeting boxes with the ball to then catch whatever is suddenly flung out of them to score points.
Boxing was another part of Wii Sports that I wasn’t previously convinced by, but rises from the ashes reborn. Rather than seeing players perform one-two jabs with a Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Nintendo now allow for you to play either equipped with a Wii Remote Plus in each hand or just a single controller. Matches are three-round bouts across online and local modes, and it’s important to note that whomever you’re matched with in the online arena will be using the same control scheme as you – making sure that everything’s kept as fair as possible.
Skill Shapers steps into the ring to train you across Pro Puncher, Speed Bag, and Duck and Dodge. These respectively see you smashing targets, hitting bags with specified punches, and dodging balls while hitting a switch to score points.
It’s clear that Wii Sports Club isn’t a mere rehash. While not a graphical showcase for the Wii U its HD upgrade delivers sharper visuals, Wii Remote Plus support provides more responsive motion control input, whilst a new online component sees you join a regional Club through which you can square off against rival clubs, friends and random players in your region to improve your overall ranking and personal grade.
Completing challenges will see you rewarded with stamps, whilst you’re regularly encouraged to share your progress through Miiverse. You can also set up Custom Callouts for you to share messages mid-game with other players online, although it wasn’t something that I found particularly useful.
Wii Sports Club feels suitably refreshed, and just as accessible as it ever was. Whilst a limited amount of content may not sway your attention for lengthy periods, the notable introduction of the Clubs system, and Nintendo Network utilisation, provide enough reason to invest your time in your favourite sports. It serves as the perfect reminder as to why we fell in love with Nintendo’s motion technology.