The Game: Wii Play gathers a collection of mini-games in one place, from fishing, billiards and target shooting to a futuristic hockey game and tank battles, each showcasing different ways that the Wii remote controls can be used. (Nintendo, 2007)
Memories: As with Wii Sports, Wii Play is an easy-to-pick-up but hard-to-put-down grouping of fairly simple minigames. Some of the games in Wii Play simulate real sports, while others delve into more abstract areas of game play. That’s the good news, and the even better news is that just about all of them are fun, making this another all-in-one first-party home run for Nintendo – if anyone knows a dozen different ways to use the Wii controllers, it should be the folks who made the things.
Wii Play is also ideal for the whole family; the closest the game comes to anything even vaguely resembling actual violence is in its Tanks! and Shooting Range games, the latter of which is just an updated Wii take on Duck Hunt, only substituting balloons for ducks (we did mention that it’s pretty non-violent, right?). The greatest difficulty factor arrives in the form of two minigames (Bubbles and Laser Hockey) which require precision wrist-twisting in addition to mastery of directional control of the Wii remotes, and the Billiards game, which is a little too persnickety about precision handling of the remotes.
I always keep an eye out for any game that shows its retro roots, and Wii Play displays them proudly. The Tanks! minigame is an unashamed update of Tank!, while Laser Hockey is a delicious double-decker sandwich of two retrogaming icons: it’s basically Pong as seen through the visual filter of the movie Tron. The Bubbles game has a little hint of Avalanche (stop the bubbles before they hit the bottom of the screen), and the Shooting Range game is an homage to Duck Hunt.
The Achilles’ heel of Wii Play is Billiards. It has control issues, and it demands more time than a lot of younger players are probably prepared to put into it just to reach the next game – an odd thing to stick in the middle of a bunch of minigames. The control scheme seems like it should be incredibly intuitive, and it seems like the Wii remote should be ideally suited to it, but it’s actually too sensitive – I spend more time being warned about my controller not pointing at the screen than I do actually playing pool.
That issue aside, Wii Play is a dandy compilation that’s almost on the same addictive level as Wii Sports.