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Wii Play
Preview By: Andrew Joy
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Compilation
ESRB: Everyone
# Of Players: 1-2
Online Play: No
Accessories: Bundled with Wii Remote
Estimated Release: 02/14/2007

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In its catalog of upcoming titles, the Wii has games from all across the board, from perennial favorites guaranteed to bring in the money to some more experimental titles that, often times, seem designed to familiarize people with the console. There are some third party offerings, such as the much-anticipated Rayman Raving Rabbids and even the multitude of mini-games in Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz, but naturally quite a few of them are coming from Nintendo, including WarioWare: Smooth Moves, Wii Sports, and Wii Play. Of those games, Wii Play is the only one whose future is somewhat uncertain in the U.S. Most believe the title is going to come here, it is after all already confirmed for Japan, Europe, and Australia, but nothing has been announced yet. Surprisingly, though, it is likely one of the more anticipated titles...but there may be more than one factor involved in that.

Wii Play

Unfortunately, though not entirely unexpected, Wii Play has very simplistic graphics, like Wii Sports and Smooth Moves. However, unlike Wii Sports, which clearly isn’t a knockout but still has a very polished look, Wii Play his a pleasant, almost hand-drawn style. There’s really nothing fancy about it, but the no-frills appearance is bound to please a much wider audience, from the very young to the very old - I can’t speak for everyone in between...but I for one like it. As I said earlier, these games are more than anything designed to introduce gamers – casual, hardcore, or whatever else – to the system’s unique method of control, so it should really come as no surprise that Wii Play, like Wii Sports and Smooth Moves (again), makes use of the Mii avatar system. The game comes loaded with a handful of avatars that players can use right off the bat, and they are also used in each of the nine games included in Wii Play.

In Find Mii, players will participate in a Where’s Waldo-style game that has players using the Wii-mote to pick out a specific Mii from a crowd. Twisting and turning your controller in Pose Mii will model your Mii to match the silhouette on screen. You’ll hold the Wii remote sideways, like an NES controller, to direct a bull in Charge, just as you would most racing games on the Wii. By bouncing artillery shells of the walls in Tanks, you’ll try and blast your foes like a militaristic version of squash. Shooting Range plays much like those carnival marksman games, with players shooting a series of on-screen and scored targets. Fishing seems the perfect way to introduce your grandfather to videogames, with players just dipping down the Wii-mote into the water and then yanking back once they have a bite in order to catch the fish. Laser Hockey will likely be familiar to anyone who has played air hockey, where players will tilt and turn the Wii-mote to knock around the digital puck. Likewise, in Table Tennis players will flip their controller like a ping-pong paddle. And, finally bar-time fun comes to the Wii with players using their controllers like a pool cue in Billiards.

Wii Play

Being such worldly connoisseurs of recreational rooms and basements, as I’m sure some of you out there are, you’ve probably realized that most of those activities would normally involve two players. Well, worry not, for Nintendo realizes that as well, and every title in this game can be played with either one or two players. In fact, if anything, Nintendo wants you to play it with two players...that’s why Wii Play, which will retail for a modest price, comes bundled with a free - or, at the very least, discounted (depending on how you view these mini-game compilations) - Wii remote. It doesn’t include the nunchuk, but that hardly matters as the games only require use of the singular unit (something not even Wii Sports can lay claim to), just another fine example of the accessibility of Wii Play.

Really, there is nothing about Wii Play that makes it a must have addition to the average video game player’s library, but the game does have a few things going for it that, at the very least, should make you think twice about it. Most obvious is the inclusion of the Wii-mote, but for me it is the simplicity and accessibility of the games within. For those looking to introduce non-gamers, family members, etc. to Nintendo’s new system, Wii Play seems just the ticket. The graphics aren’t flashy and distracting, the games can be played with two players, and each game only needs the standalone controller to jump right in, something far too many Wii games aren’t doing. While Wii Play hasn’t yet been announced stateside, it is undoubtedly on its way, and the console pack-in (except in Japan) Wii Sports should give gamers a glimpse into what this title is probably like and whether or not it is worth picking up.

Posted: 2006-11-03 18:33:19 PST