Wii Sports

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Wii Sports

European art cover
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Designer(s) Keizo Ohta
Takayuki Shimamura
Yoshikazu Yamashita
Series Wii Series
Platform(s) Wii
Release date(s) NA November 19, 2006
JP December 2, 2006
AUS December 7, 2006
EU December 8, 2006
Genre(s) Sports game
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer
Rating(s) CERO: A (All ages)
ESRB: E (Everyone)
OFLC: G (General)
PEGI: 7+ (6+ Portugal)
Media 1 × Wii Optical Disc
Input methods Wii Remote and Nunchuk

Wii Sports is a sports game developed and produced by Nintendo as a launch title for the Wii video game console.[1] It was first released in North America along with the Wii on November 19, 2006, and was released in Japan, Australia, and Europe the following month. The game is included as a pack-in game with the Wii console in all territories except Japan,[2] making it the first game included with the launch of a Nintendo system since Mario's Tennis for the Virtual Boy in 1995. Wii Sports is part of an ongoing series of games referred to as the Wii Series, and a Touch! Generations game.

The game is a collection of five sports simulations, designed to demonstrate the motion-sensing capabilities of the Wii Remote to new players. The five sports included are tennis, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing. Players use the Wii Remote to mimic actions performed in real life sports, such as swinging a tennis racket.[3] The rules for each game are simplified to make them more accessible to new players.[2] The game also features training and fitness modes that monitor player progress in the sports.[4]

Overall, Wii Sports has been well received by critics and received awards from the gaming press and entertainment community. It is the best-selling video game of all time, with 40.5 million copies sold worldwide, as of December 2008.[5] Wii Sports has been featured on television in Wii commercials, news reports, and other programming.[6][7][8][9] The game has become a popular means for social gatherings and competitions among players of varying ages.[7][10][11]


[edit] Gameplay

The player uses the Wii Remote to mimic the motion of putting a golf ball in a game of golf

Wii Sports consists of five separate sports games—tennis, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing—accessed from the main menu.[2][12] The games use the motion sensor capabilities of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk attachment to control the actions of the on-screen character. The player moves the remote in a similar manner to how the separate games are played in real life; for example, holding and swinging the Wii Remote like a golf club, baseball bat or bowling ball.[3] Some aspects of the gameplay are computer controlled. In tennis, player movement is controlled by the Wii, while the swinging of the racket is controlled by the player. Baseball consists of batting and pitching, with all of the fielding handled by the Wii.[12]

Each game features a standard play mode, training mode, and multiple player options.[2] The standard play mode mimics each game's respective method of play: tennis, a doubles match; baseball, a simple game of pitching and batting; bowling, a ten-pin, ten-frame game; golf, playing on a 3-hole or 9-hole golf course; and boxing, a three-round boxing match.[13] Training mode is a single player option that allows a player to practice certain aspects of the sports and rewards them with medals.[12][14] Every game has a single-player or two-player mode, and some games allow up to four players via various methods.[13] Bowling and golf allow for multiple players taking turns with a single Wii Remote,[12] while tennis requires each player to have their own. The multiplayer mode for Wii Sports usually has the players competing against each other in the normal manner of the specific sports; the one exception is tennis which allows for two players to play together or against each other.[14]

The in-game characters are taken from the Wii's Mii Channel, which allows the user to create a Mii (a customized avatar) that can be imported into games that support the feature. Wii Sports is the first Wii title to use this feature.[2] Miis saved on the Wii will appear in the crowd during bowling games and as members of human-controlled teams in baseball. The non-player characters in the game were also created using the Mii Channel toolset. Miis created on one Wii can be transferred onto the internal memory of a Wii Remote for use on another Wii with different save data.[13]

[edit] Player progress

After a game, a player is awarded or penalized skill points based on performance, though some games do not calculate points during multiplayer sessions. The game keeps track of these points by charting them on a graph. After obtaining 1000 skill points in a sport, a player is awarded "pro" level, along with a cosmetic feature for their Mii. A Mii newly turned pro will receive a message on the Wii Message Board notifying them. In single-player boxing and tennis, the size of the crowd grows with the player's skill level. After winning a numerous amount of games, and gaining a skill level of 2399, the Mii's skill level can not go up any more. A glitch with this is that the graph of the skill level goes off of the chart because the player is so good, and hangs above the screen. Wii Sports also features a fitness test that calculates a player's fitness age. The test gauges the player's performance in three randomly chosen challenges from the training mode. Calculating the fitness age takes into account a player's actual age, balance, speed, and stamina. The test itself can only be taken once a day per Mii. Fitness age results are graphed over one, two, or three months, with daily results posted on the Wii Message Board.[13][14]

[edit] Development

Satoru Iwata at Nintendo's 2006 E3 press conference

Katsuya Eguchi, who managed Software Development Group 2 at Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development, produced Wii Sports.[15] With the Wii, Nintendo desired to reach people that had not played video games before. To do this they needed software that allowed both long time and first time players to interact together in a fun way.[16] Nintendo also wanted players to use the system daily and intended Wii Sports to be the console's flagship title to help accomplish this.[17] Wii Sports was designed as a simple introductory line meant to offer something for both gamers and non-gamers.[18] Sports were chosen as the theme because of the widespread familiarity with them. Rather than feature professional athletes or have realistic graphics, the game was designed to be simple so that anyone could play. Gameplay like running towards a ball in tennis was excluded to maintain simplicity.[15] At one point in development, Mario characters were used, but were removed because of feedback from players who preferred Miis.[19] The game supports a 16:9 widescreen ratio and progressive scan, runs at 60 frames per second,[2] and makes use of the Wii Remote's accelerometer to interpret the player's motion.[20] Motion-sensing actions, like pitching and hitting, were prioritized to make them as realistic as possible.[19] Wii Sports was bundled with the Wii because Nintendo did not expect players to purchase the system solely to play the game. Nintendo thought by including it with the Wii, players would be more likely to play it, and if they enjoyed the game, that enjoyment would spread.[21]

Before the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) Media and Business Summit of 2006, the first sport in the game was announced as Wii Sports: Tennis. It was later announced, at Nintendo's press conference prior to E3 2006, it would be part of a sports package.[20] Satoru Iwata introduced this package as Wii Sports, and stated it would include tennis, golf, and baseball. The game was featured as both a video demonstration and an on-stage playable demo. The demo featured Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime in a doubles tennis match against Shigeru Miyamoto and Scott Dyer, a contest winner.[16] The other sports titles were on display at E3 and shared a similar naming convention to the tennis game such as, Wii Sports: Baseball, Wii Sports: Golf, and Wii Sports: Airplane.[22] At the time, baseball only featured a batting simulation.[23] The airplane title was similar to Pilotwings and required the player to maneuver an airplane through rings within a time frame.[22] It was not included in the final game, but is believed to be part of a future game for the Wii titled Wii Motor Sports.[24] At the Nintendo World event on September 14, 2006, Reggie Fils-Aime announced that Wii Sports would be included free with the Wii. The bowling and boxing titles were also introduced.[25]

[edit] Reception

Wii Sports has been commercially successful; at the end of 2007, it was the best-selling Wii game.[26] In Japan, where the game was not included with the system, the game sold 176,167 copies in the first two days of release, a record for a seventh generation console game in Japan.[27] By February 2007, it had sold over a million copies.[28][29] In early May 2007, game-industry research firm Media Create placed Wii Sports third in their list of top-20 games in Japan.[30] It was the best-selling game of 2007 in Japan with 1,911,520 copies sold.[31][32] It is the tenth best-selling game of Japan in 2008, selling 841,736 copies in that year.[33] As of December 31, 2008, the game has sold 40.5 million copies worldwide—including bundled copies, according to Nintendo.[5]

[edit] Critical response

Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 77%[35]
Metacritic 76 out of 100[34]
Review scores
Publication Score
1UP.com C+[36]
Eurogamer 8 out of 10[37]
Game Informer 6.5 out of 10[38]
GamePro 4.25 out of 5[3]
IGN 7.5 out of 10[2]
Official Nintendo Magazine 90%[39]
Computer and Video Games 7 out of 10[40]

Wii Sports has received generally positive reviews.[34][35] GameTrailers called it a good complement to the Wii system and referred to all five games as a "nice total package". They commented that the games provided enough gameplay for long time gamers without making it inaccessible to novices. GameTrailers stated, however, the lack of a tournament mode was a detractor, and did not recommend paying for the game if it did not come bundled with the system.[12] GamePro also commented that the free addition of Wii Sports with the Wii was a positive.[3] IGN called it a "successful showpiece for Nintendo's new hardware" and enjoyed the ability to import Miis.[2] GameSpot complimented the multiplayer aspect and the fitness test.[41] Reviewers praised the game's controls and ease of use. IGN referred to the controls as "revolutionary" and described them as intuitive.[2] GamePro echoed similar comments, praising the ease of play and realistic motion controls, while GameSpot commented the motion controls were sometimes erratic.[3][41] Common criticism focused on the graphics and lack of depth in the separate games. IGN stated the game "comes up short in depth and visuals", and called the graphics "generic" and "archaic".[2] Other reviewers stated the graphics were on par with Nintendo's older gaming systems, the GameCube and Nintendo 64.[3][12] GameSpot criticized the oversimplified nature of the games, and GamePro stated the separate games offered less depth than regular console sports games.[3][41]

The separate games garnered their own reception among critics. IGN called bowling, tennis, and baseball "fun and addictive", while Eurogamer said baseball, golf and boxing were lacking in gameplay depth when compared with tennis and bowling.[2][37] PC Magazine columnist John C. Dvorak, an avid bowler, praised the realistic physics utilized in bowling and stated, "Nintendo did a stupendous job of coding." He complimented the addition of physical activity to video gaming, but complained that long term use caused his wrist and shoulder to become sore.[42] IGN ranked bowling as the best experience of the five.[2] Before its release, IGN commented on an exploit allowing easy strikes in the bowling game that removed the challenge and replay value.[43] After the release, they stated the exploit was not fixed.[25] GameTrailers called golf the most in-depth, but criticized the lack of multiple courses and unpredictable controls when trying to slice or hook a shot.[12] GamePro stated golf offered the most content and was the best looking of all the games, but commented that its controls were the most difficult to use.[3] GameTrailers called tennis the most accessible and easy to play, but criticized the difficulty of putting spin on a shot.[12] IGN stated tennis was one of the more fun games, but the lack of movement control was a detractor.[2] GameTrailers called baseball the most "worthless" because of the luck factor associated with the computer-controlled fielding. They called boxing the best workout on Wii Sports, but criticized the difficult timing needed to punch properly.[12] IGN criticized boxing for being "like a chore" and ranked it as the worst experience of the five sports.[2]

[edit] Awards

Wii Sports's debut at 2006 E3 garnered it several awards. At the event, it won the Game Critics Award for "Best Sports Game".[44] 1UP.com listed it as the "Best Wii Game" and "Most Original Game" in their "Best of E3 2006" feature.[45] Following its release, Wii Sports received multiple awards from various organizations, websites, and magazines. IGN awarded it "Best Sports Game of 2006".[46] Time magazine listed the game as the number one game of 2006 in their list of "Top 10 Video Games of 2006".[47] Wii Sports won Famitsu's 2006 "Innovation Award".[48] Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded it "Best Multiplayer Experience" in their 2006 "1Up Network Awards".[49] At the 2007 Interactive Achievement Awards, Wii Sports won "Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering", "Outstanding Achievement in Game Design", and "Outstanding Innovation in Gaming".[50][51][52] In 2007, the game won the "Innovation Award" and "Best Game Design" at the Game Developers Choice Awards,[53] and won "Grand Prize" in the entertainment division of the Japan Media Arts Festival.[54] At the 2007 BAFTA Awards, Wii Sports won in six out of the thirteen categories: Casual, Gameplay, Strategy & Simulation, Sports, Innovation, and Multiplayer.[55][56]

[edit] Impact

Wii Sports, a major factor in the Wii's worldwide success, is the first in a series of games by Nintendo titled Wii Series.[57] The series also includes Wii Play, Wii Fit, Wii Chess and Wii Music.[58] A direct sequel titled Wii Sports Resort is also planned for release.[59] The game, along with Wii Fit, has been cited as attracting more casual, female, and elderly gamers.[60] It has also been cited as one game that can provide a bonding experience among family members, and as a means of exercising and losing weight when played regularly.[61][62] A study involving 13–15 year old teenagers was conducted by the Liverpool John Moores University and concluded that players used 2% more energy than by playing on other consoles. They stated it was no substitute for playing a real sport, but could contribute to weight management.[63] Wii Sports has been used to aid in the physical therapy of a boxer at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Canada, stroke victims in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Raleigh, North Carolina, and injured soldiers in Prescott, Arizona; Washington, D.C.; and Landstuhl, Germany.[64][65][66][67]

The new Wii Remote strap (left) compared to the original strap (right).

After the Wii's release, players began incurring injuries while playing Wii Sports, among other games, when they accidentally hit other players or objects while swinging the Wii Remote.[7] This string of accidents, and others related to players throwing the Wii Remote while playing Wii Sports, prompted Nintendo president Satoru Iwata to develop a campaign to reduce such incidents.[68] In regard to the issue, Nintendo spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa commented, "People tended to get a bit excited, especially while playing Wii Sports, and in some cases the remote would come loose from their hands." Nintendo responded by recalling 3.2 million Wii Remote wrist straps and producing new straps that were almost twice as thick.[69]

Wii Sports has become a popular means for social gatherings and competitions. Residents at senior centers and retirement homes have formed leagues using Wii Sports bowling.[10][70] After its Australian release, Nintendo and Myer, an Australian department store chain, held a Wii Sports tennis tournament in January 2007 in Melbourne, Australia.[11] The winners competed against professional tennis players Pat Cash and Mark Woodforde, and were awarded with new Wiis.[71] An unofficial Wii Sports tennis tournament titled "Wiimbledon" was held in the Brooklyn, New York bar, Barcade on June 23, 2007.[72] It featured 128 competitors, many of whom were dressed in costumes. The winner was awarded a new Wii.[7][73]

Wii Sports has been featured on television multiple times. The game was featured in commercials for the Wii system,[6][74] and in news features on the American Broadcasting Company and National Broadcasting Company networks.[7][75][76] The game has appeared on various comedy shows. An episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien featured host Conan O'Brien competing against his guest, tennis star Serena Williams, in a match of Wii Sports tennis.[8] On an episode of the Rick Mercer Report, former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien beat Rick Mercer in a game of Wii Sports boxing.[9] The boxing game also appeared on an episode of The Colbert Report where a clip featured Mii versions of Stephen Colbert and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi boxing.[77] At the 80th Academy Awards Show, host Jon Stewart and August Rush star Jamia Simone Nash were caught playing Wii Sports tennis on one of the event's gigantic projection screens after a commercial break as part of a joke.[78]

[edit] References

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