- Original release year: 2006
- Consoles: Wii (later: Wii U)
The 2000s were a difficult time for Nintendo. The company who were once the frontrunners in video games had taken quite a beating over a number of console generations. Nintendo first found tough competition with Sega in the 16-bit era, but despite this, the Super Nintendo was a resounding success. Things got tougher for Nintendo though after the huge success of the Sony Playstation and, perhaps even more so, when facing both the Playstation 2 and Microsoft’s Xbox. Games were moving in a more ‘mature’ direction and, to some people, Nintendo seemed to be stuck in the past.
Nintendo needed to do something different, something drastic, in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. Sony and Microsoft were, in many ways, vying for the same competition and there wasn’t a lot of room for Nintendo. So what did Nintendo do? Well, they repackaged the same console (the GameCube) they released the prior generation with a new shiny, sleek, white exterior, gave it a stupid name (the Wii) and added a motion controls to the mix. The results? One of the biggest and unpredicted successes in gaming history, ever.
One of the biggest reasons for the Wii’s success, was this very game. Wii Sports – one of the most innovative and influential games of the last decade. Nowadays, hardcore gamers look down their noses at Wii Sports. It was that game for “dirty casuals” and grandmas, with silly ‘waggle’ controls that appealed to kids. The motion controls weren’t even real motion controls (remember motion+ that came a few years later? Before that, the Wii didn’t really register your accurate movements. It just registered ‘any’ movement. There was no precision). But you know what? Wii Sports is a fantastic title and deserved all the love it got. Including it as a pack-in title for the Wii was a stroke of genius on Nintendo’s part.
It was the kind of game that everyone could have fun playing. My brother who has autism could play it and play it well, my grandma could play it, my parents could play it and my friends and I could play it together, my wife could play it. Everyone could play it and everyone could have fun. It was simple and the controls were intuitive and fun. No longer did you have to explain repeatedly to a non-gamer what all the different buttons are and what all the different buttons do. This was simple. You simply moved the remote and used the motion of your hand to control the game. Playing bowling? Simply squeeze the B button and use the remote to create a bowling motion with your hand. Playing tennis? Simply swing the remote like a tennis racket. Boxing? Then use the nunchuck and remote in either hand and swing your fists in the air.
Wii Sports was essentially a hardware demo, a showcase if you will, to just demonstrate the abilities of Nintendo’s machine. However, it turned into so much more. It became a game that everyone wanted to try, a game you could play at parties and everyone could get involved in. It was just simple, energetic fun. Sure, Sony kinda had something similar with the EyeToy on the PS2, but that was crap compared to the Wii.
The sequel, Wii Sports Resort, made use of motion+ and improved on Wii Sports in just about every way imaginable, but honestly it’s the original I and most people remember having the most fun with.