Wii Reviews T

Table Tennis
Grade: C+
Publisher: Rockstar (2007)
Reviewed: 2007/11/2
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI was never a big fan of Table Tennis for the Xbox 360. It felt like a scaled-down version of Virtua Tennis, only more repetitive and laborious. Even so, I have often fantasized about what the game would be like on the Wii, with your paddle mimicking your actual arm movements. Well, Table Tennis for the Wii is finally here, but it's not exactly what I had in mind.

Yes, you do swing your arms to direct your shot, but it's not in "real-time" as it was in my wild fantasies. Instead, you swing as the ball is coming towards you, and your player reacts accordingly after the fact. You apply spin by holding in the directional pad, and the ball is "aimed" based on how you swing your arm. It's not a perfect scheme, but it's a hell of a lot more interactive than the Xbox 360 version. Once you begin executing high-powered "focus" shots by holding down B, the matches can get pretty interesting. Just be sure your wrist strap is tight!

This Wii edition of Table Tennis obviously lacks the ultra-realistic graphics of the Xbox 360 version, but that doesn't matter at all. The gameplay is more fun, and the single player mode is less frustrating. There are three characters to begin with, including a Swedish dude and a lesbian named Haley, but you'll definitely want to stick with Lui Ping, because Chinese people kick ass at Ping-Pong! And Kung Fu!

The arenas in Table Tennis aren't very interesting, but the crowd audio is realistic enough (is that a cell phone ringing?) My buddies got a kick out of this game, but I'm not seeing much long term replay value. One major flaw is the excessive load times. Just trying to set up a quick two-player match requires you to sit through countless menu and load screens. All in all, this game represents a step forward for Rockstar's Table Tennis, but it's still a far cry from the real thing. . © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Target: Terror
Grade: B
Publisher: Konami (2008)
Reviewed: 2008/10/2
Rating: Mature (blood and gore, crude humor, violence)

screenshotI always got a kick out of light-gun games like Lethal Enforcers (Genesis, 1993), Area 51 (PS1, 1995), and Maximum Force (PS1, 1997). To be honest, I never thought I'd see anything like that again. Well friends, happy days are back again! This is a "throwback" title if I ever saw one. Like light-gun games of old, Target: Terror is shallow, low budget, and fun as hell! Each stage is introduced by a brief "live" video newscast, and these cheesy clips look like something from a Sega CD or 3DO title! I love it!

Once the action begins you're automatically whisked through various locations where you focus on shooting "terrorists" who roll into view or jump out from behind props. The digitized actors are clearly superimposed on computer-generated backgrounds, and many of them look like members of the programming team trying to keep a straight face! There are also some smoking hot chicks in mini-skirts, and it's hard to bring yourself to shoot these beauties!

A visible cursor makes it easy to take aim, and enemies react based on where you shoot them (gotta love those crotch shots). There's minimal blood and the violence is too over-the-top to be objectionable. There's a lot to shoot, including windows and explosive barrels, but take care not to shoot innocent civilians like the girl who's yapping away on her cell phone. I really wish the gun clip held more bullets, because I found myself reloading constantly. Adding some spice are novel weapons including a grenade launcher, flamethrower, electric "shocker", and even a freeze ray!

The game offers three main locations which can be played in any order: an airport (a staple for light-gun games), the Golden Gate bridge, and a nuclear power plant which reminded me of Area 51. Shooting a certain number of windows initiates humorous bonus stages where you take aim at odd targets like golf carts or frozen turkeys!

One questionable thing about Target: Terror is the number of continues, which can exceed 40! It seems a little excessive, but I guess you'll need those in order to complete all ten stages. The game automatically saves your progress, along with high scores per stage. It's hard to believe this project got the green light, but shallow gamers like me will be delighted! © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Tatsunoko Vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars
Grade: A-
Publisher: Capcom (2010)
Reviewed: 2010/2/27
Rating: Teen (mild language, mild suggestive themes, violence)

screenshotA potent combination of Street Fighter 2 and Super Smash Bros., Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom (TVC) delivers a swift kick in the rear to the 2D fighting genre. It's a two-on-two tag-team affair with an emphasis on air attacks and earth-shattering super moves. Tatsunoko is a Japanese animation company most Americans probably aren't familiar with, but don't let that scare you off.

The characters may look like cheesy superheroes, but they tend to grow on you. The Capcom side offers a handful of Street Fighter characters and a hodgepodge of others like Viewtiful Joe, Mega Man, and Morrigan from Darkstalkers. There's also a little girl with a broom and bucket of water. It's not my dream roster, but I can roll with it. You might be expecting TVC to employ 2D sprites, but no - the graphics are rendered entirely in 3D. On the plus side, this allows for smooth animation and mind-blowing special attacks that culminate with the screen shattering to pieces. On the downside, the polygons tend to exhibit rough edges, and the stages lack the artistic flair that gave the old 2D fighters so much character.

In terms of pure gameplay, TVC is a force to be reckoned with. You select from a pair of characters, and can freely swap them in and out. The action is more frantic than previous Capcom brawlers, and fighters can dish out attack after attack in mid-air. Familiar characters possess their trademark moves, which are very easy to execute. The underlying fighting system is fairly sophisticated, but even button-mashers will have a field day. The announcer chimes in with comments like "Wonderful!" Who is this guy trying to be, my mom?

TVC has a lot of surprises in store, including the chance to battle a 3-story golden robot. The scores in TVC are astronomical, with each hit netting billions of points! High scores are saved along with extensive statistics about character usage. A story mode is included, but the endings didn't make much sense to me. Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom is the weirdest fighter I've played in a long time, but also the best. I use an arcade-style joystick, and I am wearing this thing out. Hell, even the cheesy intro song is starting to grow on me! Tatsunoko Vs. Capcom is a pleasant surprise that will appeal to casual and hardcore fighting fans alike. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

The Calling
Grade: D
Publisher: Hudson Soft (2010)
Reviewed: 2017/11/2
Rating: Teen

screenshotThis is one of those Japanese horror titles that makes technology seem creepy - in this case cell phones and chat rooms. The Calling was developed by Hudson Soft I assumed it would be high in quality. You play the role of a teenage girl discussing occult subjects in a chat room. Next thing you know, you find yourself in a mysterious house. When you answer your cell phone you'll hear voices emanating through your Wiimote controller, and when a ghost whispers in your ear it'll make your blood run cold.

The graphics do a good job of rendering dark, dingy environments and the stereo sounds effects are extremely effective. The house also contains dolls (!) setting you up for some major scares. It's a shame the user interface is so unwieldy. You'll constantly shuffling between maps and awkward point-and-click menus. It takes a good half hour just to get comfortable with the controls. Load screens are frequent but short. Next you find yourself in a deserted school but it might as well be a prison. How the [expletive] do you get out of this place?!

Upon entering a new room you move a cursor around the screen looking for interesting objects. When it turns into a hand, it means you can use motion controls to open a door or slide open a drawer. The thing is, 99% of the time they are empty! After a while it feels like a waste of time opening every single drawer, locker, or restroom stall. While it looks creepy exploring the halls with a flashlight, there's not a lot of action. The school rooms are cookie-cutter and most doors are "stuck". Arbitrarily closed-off stairwells force you to take "the long way" to get anywhere.

It's alarming to be accosted by ghostly children, but shaking them off gets tiresome. The puzzles are very subtle, so overlooking one hint could mean hours of wasted time. The Calling is genuinely scary at times but its glacial pacing proves unbearable. Only the most patient, dedicated gamers should attempt to undertake this one. © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

The Monkey King
Grade: D-

screenshotA 2D side-scrolling shooter for the Wii? Yes!! The Monkey King is so thick with traditional Chinese music and imagery you'll think you're playing an import. The music sounds amazing and the layered stages offer artistic scenes of mountains and the Great Wall. You'll hold your Wiimote like a NES controller as you control a monkey-boy flying on a cloud while shooting at chickens, tiger warriors, pies, winged old geezers, and Porky Pigs. Enemies in the air blow up with a flourish of fireworks but those on land just sort of freeze and disappear.

Your default pellet gun is lame but icons power it up and entering floating doorways lets you purchase secondary weapons like fireballs or flaming dragons. It's possible to amass substantial firepower but the button-mashing feels uncomfortable. And once the enemies and backgrounds start to repeat the action feels dull and repetitive. Why does my monkey move so damn slow?! It's downright laborious to drag his monkey-ass up and down the screen! I found myself mashing the directional pad extra-hard as if it was going to help. You're really a sitting duck against the rows of incoming enemies and their crossfire. Occasional speed power-ups provide relief but once you lose a life it's back to Snail City.

Only by accident did I discover that tilting the Wiimote causes the screen to tilt, making enemies approach faster or slower. I still have no idea what the point of that is. Playing coop is a different experience altogether. Two people can easily cover the screen, powering up their weapons to the max. Against your joint forces bosses can't even get off a single attack! Suffice to say my buddy Brent and I finished this in about 15 minutes. I'm afraid The Monkey King is too easy to play coop but too aggravating to recommend playing solo. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Grade: B-
Publisher: Sierra (2008)
Reviewed: 2020/7/21
Rating: Teen (mild language, violence)

screenshotTomb of the Dragon Emperor is based on the third Mummy film, which I consider least memorable of the trilogy. It's set in China where an evil emperor (played by Jet Li) has been resurrected. The game begins with a generous amount of movie footage from - so generous you'll want to skip it!

The opening stage puts you in the role of Alex, son of Rick (Brendan Frazier) from the previous films. Exploring a generic tomb lets you get acquainted with the controls which are actually well designed. Tapping the directional pad lets you throw a variety of punches, and holding down a certain direction will perform a wind-up punch powerful enough to knock out most foes. The shooting action is also pretty terrific thanks to an auto-aim that lets you direct your shotgun, tommy gun, or dual-pistols with pinpoint precision.

The weakest aspect of the game are the less-than-responsive motion controls used to turn cranks or slide switches. The game instructs you exactly what moves to perform at any given time, so what is the point? There's also some Lara Croft-style climbing, although not being able to adjust the camera can be a problem. The game gets off to a bad start with an overly-difficult opening stage. When teaching the player to climb across crumbling blocks, is it really necessary to have blades spinning between them? And it certainly doesn't need to be timed! At one point I became hopelessly stuck and had to restart. In retrospect it's a miracle I like this game at all!

But Tomb of the Dragon Emperor gains its footing in stage two where you navigate museum exhibits before escaping into a rainy alley. It's a nice blend of combat, climbing, and simple puzzles. The production values are excellent, with rich graphics, fluid animation, and the orchestrated score from the film. I think they even got the actors to do the voices! The game generally stays true to the spirit of the film, although I don't remember Rick gunning down attack dogs in the Himalayas. The difficulty is low and that's good because you can only save between stages. After a rough start The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor goes down smooth like an orange crush at the beach. Most importantly, it doesn't get in the way of letting the player enjoy the ride. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10
Grade: B
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2009)
Reviewed: 2009/7/8
Rating: Everyone


screenshotThis represents a major step up for the underachieving Tiger Woods PGA Tour series. This game comes packed with the Wii Motion Plus attachment, making your Wii-mote controller more precise and less prone to error. The difference is not dramatic, but golf fans will appreciate the more consistent hitting and lack of "false positive" swings.

PGA Tour 10 is fully licensed with real golf pros and 27 (!) courses. The graphics are noticeably more attractive than previous Tiger Woods outings, with courses that appear more natural and flowing. If you're on-line, you can even tap into real-world weather conditions. A wide selection of modes and mini-games are available, but as usual, navigating the poorly-designed menu system can be a hassle. Tiger Woods PGA 10 screws up in the most bizarre ways. The remarkably confusing tutorial manages to make putting seem like rocket science. Likewise, creating a player is a complicated ordeal, requiring you to sift through endless pages of superfluous options like mustaches, moles, and even scars. I tried my best to recreate myself, but as usual, I ended up looking like a Chinese dude anyway!

Once you finally hit the golf course, PGA Tour 10 finally hits its stride. The pacing is brisk so you can get through a round in well under an hour. You can expedite "rolls" to minimize the lulls. This is the only game in town that lets you use your actual golf swing, and if you're a golfer, that means a lot. The swinging controls are natural enough, but the idea of shaking the controller to apply spin in mid-air is pretty dumb. Can you imagine Tiger doing that? Plus, the random camera angles make it hard to tell where your ball is heading in the first place. The revamped putting system is a bit too touchy, and why in the hell is a meter necessary?

You have the ability to save a partially completed round, but whenever you switch to a different mode the game inexplicably warns that your previous game will be overwritten. There's a two-man commentator team (actually, one is a woman), but they don't sound very professional and aren't the least bit informative. One terrific bonus in Tiger Woods 10 is the Frisbee golf mode, which lets you toss Frisbees around a golf course, with a basket where the hole would be. If you think that sounds like a good time, well, you'd be right! You might enjoy it more than the real golf! Tiger Woods PGA makes some amateur mistakes, but if you're looking for a realistic golf title, this is the best thing going. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf 07
Grade: D
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2007)
Reviewed: 2007/6/9
Rating: Everyone


screenshotThe Wii was tailor-made for golf, and Tiger Woods is the first name in golf, yet EA still somehow managed to screw this one up! PGA Tour 07 does deliver the goods in terms of realism and intuitive control, but sloppy design and a nasty bug prevent it from reaching its potential. Upon starting up the game, your initial challenge is to create a golfer in your own likeness, which involves wrestling with the most backward, non-intuitive menu interface ever devised. Not only does it sometimes prompt you to hit the wrong button, but you're constantly being sent to the save screen (where you can then save in seven easy steps!).

Things improve considerably once you get out on the course. Swinging the controller works exactly like swinging a golf club, so if you tend to hook or slice in "real life", expect to do the same here. Form is everything, and it's satisfying to hear the "swoosh" sound of a solid hit emanating through your controller's microphone. When the ball is in the air, you can hold the directional pad and shake the controller to apply spin - not very realistic, but it works. Just try not to make an obscene gesture while doing this.

One feature that's a real Godsend is how you can hold in the A button to "speed up" your shots and expedite those slow rolls. Each green is protected by a state-of-the-art laser security system - oh wait - that's the slope indicator! The putting game is terrific, and far more forgiving than Wii Sports Golf. Sadly, there's one serious glitch that wreaks havoc with this game. About once per round, a swing will inadvertently register just as you're beginning your backswing, resulting in a little squibbler of a shot. As any real golfer will tell you, one terrible shot like that can be the difference between having a great round or not making the cut. What a shame.

In terms of presentation, Tiger Woods has plenty of room for improvement. The courses are well designed but the graphics are mediocre, with flat-looking terrain and blocky wildlife. The holes in Wii Sports golf looked better than this! The idiotic pair of announcers seem more intent on mocking you than providing commentary. If you take more than five seconds to line up your shot you'll hear them whine "will you swing already?!" Tiger's playing modes include the addictive Tiger Challenge where you complete various mini-games to unlock features. The target-shooting challenges are insanely fun, but the new "one ball" games are garbage.

The menus are loaded with options, but I don't know what half of them mean because once again the cheap bastards at EA skimped on the instruction manual. There doesn't seem to be a way to save your progress in the middle of a round, and that's a glaring oversight. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07 is clearly a flawed product, but like real golf, you'll keep coming back to it for more punishment. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf 08
Grade: C+
Publisher: Electronic Arts (2008)
Reviewed: 2008/5/28
Rating: Everyone


screenshotDespite some glaring flaws, Tiger Woods 08 is the only golf game that lets you use your real golf swing, and there's something to be said for that. Like last year, the game makes an awful first impression with a frustrating tutorial and a user-hostile create-a-golfer feature designed by Satan himself. When choosing a face, why do I have to manipulate coordinates on a bunch of graphs? Excuse me - I was told there would be no math! The system is such a mess that my character ended up looking like a cross between Tiger Woods and the Joker!

Thank goodness things improve substantially on the golf course. The graphics are pretty mediocre (PS2 quality), but it's fun to use your natural golf swing! Not only does the game seem to detect good form, but it no longer registers "false swings" - a fatal flaw that crippled last year's game. Adjusting the power of your hit is still black magic though, and my friend George had a hard time trying to hit anything at under 110% power! Applying spin to the ball in flight is done by vigorously shaking the Wii-mote, and yes, it looks totally obscene. One great feature lets you speed up the shot animation by holding in the A button. This makes it possible to play an entire round of golf in under a half-hour!

The courses themselves aren't very exciting, and what's with the oceans of sand?! Putting is tricky, especially when the hole is obstructed by the putting grid or even your golfer's head! Hey EA, have you ever heard of play-testing? Look into it! Tiger Woods 08 is loaded with idiotic design flaws. You'd expect the main screen to display the hole and par information, but no, you need to click on a special icon to access that info!

The commentators are two worthless douche-bags who spout juvenile garbage like "Good shot - moron!" and "Oooo... let's see where this one ends up!" And why does it sound like a jumbo jet is flying over every hole?! It certainly sounds real (I kept looking out my window), but let's go easy on the audio effects guys! Ultimately, Tiger Woods succeeds in spite of itself, mainly due to intuitive controls and brisk pacing. This is the closest you'll get to playing actual golf in your living room without causing hundreds of dollars in damage. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Tony Hawk's Downhill Jam
Grade: C
Publisher: Activision (2006)
Reviewed: 2020/5/8
Rating: Everyone

screenshotUnlike the precision controls that defined the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater (PS1, 1998) series, Downhill is more of an arcade title geared to casual fans. It succeeds in terms of simplicity, eye candy, and instant gratification. Whenever a game tells you to turn the Wiimote sideways like an NES controller that's usually a good sign.

You tilt the controller to steer. I would have preferred to use the d-pad, but whatever. Combinations of the 1 and 2 buttons perform jumps and tricks, and you can even punch other skaters and innocent bystanders. The first tier of events take place in San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Edinburgh Scotland, giving you a diverse set of locations right off the bat.

Your main objective is to beat a field of competitors to the finish, but there are so many opportunities to jump, grind, and perform tricks it's crazy. You'll find yourself whizzing around curved rails, bouncing off walls, and hopping off the hoods of moving cars. Everything happens so fast it's kind of hard to digest it all. Once you fill your "zone bone" you can shake the Wiimote for an exhilarating boost. Wow, that did not come out right.

In addition to racing there are slalom events, trick score events, and even collision events that challenge you to plow through crates and fruit stands. The punk-flavored soundtrack is pretty good and I was surprised to hear an old favorite "She Watch Channel Zero" by Public Enemy. Between events are corny "interview" questions with Tony and the other boarders, and man, they are just embarrassing.

The game is fun for a while but eventually begins to lose its luster. The controls are too loose and the collision detection is ridiculous. You might kick to the right and some dude on the left will go flying! The low difficulty resulted in me coming in second place 95% of the time. During one race I fell into an abyss five times and still came in second. That's when I knew something wasn't right. Tony Hawk Downhill starts off fast but after a while it all boils down to Wii comfort food. © Copyright 2020 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Top Spin 3
Grade: B-
Publisher: 2K Sports (2008)
Reviewed: 2008/7/19
Rating: Everyone


screenshotLike many Wii gamers I've longed for a realistic tennis game that incorporates actual players and motion controls. Top Spin 3 more or less delivers that. The game instructs you to grip the controller sideways, with your index finger resting on the B button. Why? Well it does feel more like a tennis racket this way, especially if you have one of those rubber covers. The nun-chuck joystick is used to move your player and the Z button lets you execute lobs and drop shots.

What I love about Top Spin 3 is the ability to swing in "real time". You start your backswing as the ball approaches, and attempt to follow through in sync with your player on the screen. The game only recognizes pronounced movements, so if you're used to flicking your wrist with Wii Sports Tennis, you'll need to break that habit. Spin can be applied by angling your swing up or down, and it really works! Once you get into a natural rhythm, it feels like you're playing real tennis!

Keep in mind however that this is not a "pick up and play" title like Wii Sport Tennis - there's a learning curve involved. And as with most motion-sensing games, the controls are fairly loose. I feel like I'm only controlling 75% of the action, with the rest being black magic (not unlike Tiger Woods for the Wii). Sometimes your movements don't quite correlate to the action, and occasionally your player won't respond at all. Playing the net is tricky because you have much less time to react.

Playing doubles is a real adventure, because you have a lot of people swinging their arms in a confined area. I almost gave my friend Steve a black eye, and Scott nearly took a hunk out of my drywall. Most of the pain is self-inflicted however, as the cord tends to whip you, and your two controllers sometimes rap against each other.

Other than the physical aspect, Top Spin 3 doesn't have much going for it. The graphics are fairly ugly, and I hate how the screen prompts you to "Hit B to React!" after every shot, just to see a fist pump. Apparently 2K recruited the sergeant from Full Metal Jacket to be the line judge, always yelling "FAULT!!" at the top of his lungs! I love to imitate that guy during matches just to annoy my friends. Top Spin 3's options are pretty thin. There are a few big name players (Federer, Roddick, Sharapova), and some legends (Borg, Becker), but Rafael Nadal and the Williams sisters are missing. There's no create-a-player option, and the "party games" are simply round-robin tournaments.

The career mode is fun, but some tournaments require you to play several lengthy matches and you can't save your progress between matches! Ugh! The soundtrack includes some upbeat tunes from Boys Like Girls and Franz Ferdinand, and the bouncy pop number by "The Go Team" is pretty infectious. Top Spin 3 is a little rough around the edges, but it's the closest thing to playing real tennis in a video game. 2K Sports hasn't perfected the art, but this is a step in the right direction. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

Trackmania: Build to Race
Grade: A-
Publisher: CI Games (2011)
Reviewed: 2013/12/26
Rating: Everyone

screenshotFor those of you weary of modern racers with realistic tracks and endless laps, Trackmania feels like a breath of fresh air. With quick races, bright graphics, and instantly-gratifying gameplay, this has "arcade" written all over it. The sense of speed is impressive as you navigate banked turns, tunnels, loops, ramps, and corkscrews. To compare these amazing tracks to roller coasters would probably be a disservice, because they are far more spectacular.

The races are typically under 30 seconds long. In the single-player mode you'll race against ghost cars, and that's a good idea because they help you gauge your progress without having to worry about bumping into them. The controls are extremely responsive. Physics does play a role, but you can turn on a dime and the collision detection is forgiving. I only wish the camera angle didn't reverse when you put your car into reverse, which is confusing (why do racing games do that?!).

Several control schemes are available, and the game automatically recognizes the one you are using. Earning medals on all the tracks is fun, although frequent set-up and load screens tend to interrupt the flow. Each set of tracks is set in a different climate, and the quality of the graphics is surprising. The snow tracks made me feel like I was at a ski resort, and racing the coastal tracks is like cruising around on a bright summer day. Complementing the fun visuals is a really fantastic soundtrack. The light, breezy tunes embody a number of different musical styles, but they all tend to be catchy and appealing.

Unlocking new tracks is addictive, but when you're ready for a real challenge, try the platform mode which is like a high-speed obstacle course. Did I mention there is also a robust track editor that lets you build and save your own tracks? There's also a puzzle mode that will test both your editing and racing skills. The multi-player split-screen mode works great, but if one player has any knowledge of the track layouts they will blow everyone else away. I'm glad someone brought Trackmania to my attention, because it's one of the most enjoyable games I've played on the Wii system. © Copyright 2013 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 


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