Wii Reviews U-Z

Ultimate Band
Grade: B+
Publisher: Disney (2008)
Reviewed: 2008/12/13
Rating: 1 to 4 players

screenshotIf you can look past the cheesy title and juvenile box cover, you're in for a pleasant surprise. It's hard to believe, but Ultimate Band is what Wii Music should have been! This game does a fantastic job of mimicking guitar, bass, drums, and even the "front man" role using the Wii-mote and nun-chuck. This is one of the few third-party titles that properly harness the Wii's unique controls.

Each instrument has its own "track" with intuitive movement indicators moving across it. The guitar and bass have a "Guitar Hero light" flavor, as the nun-chuck acts as the neck of the guitar and you strum with the Wii-mote. The nun-chuck's buttons function as frets, and when using the bass you tilt the nun-chuck to adjust the pitch. The drums (my favorite) are an absolute blast, and it really does feel like you're playing drums! I love how you move your controllers sideways to effortlessly hit your cymbals.

As the front man, you don't sing (thank goodness) but instead position the controllers to mimic punches, claps, or poses. You clap by moving the controllers toward each other, and it's satisfying to hear a crisp clap sound emanate from the controller speaker. The controls are forgiving, but not too forgiving. My one beef is with the gratuitous "twirl" movements you're asked to perform every so often, as they tend to be hard on the arms.

Of course, a music game is only as good as its music, and I loved Ultimate Band's selection of upbeat pop tunes which include Whip It (Devo), Beverly Hills (Weezer), Fell In Love With a Girl (The White Stripes), I Want You to Want Me (Cheap Trick), Our Time Now (Plain White T's), and Just What I Needed (The Cars). The songs are short and fun to play along to, and I felt compelled to stand up while playing them. You can even work up a sweat at the higher levels. The songs are all covers, and although they are performed well, hearing a guy sing "Complicated" or "Let's Get This Party Started" doesn't seem right.

The graphics take a back seat to the audio, but I enjoyed the colorful venues which include a bar with a pirate's cove theme. Ultimate Band is aimed at the younger demographic, but I really enjoyed working my way through the story mode and jamming with friends. If you don't have the cash (or room) for a Rock Band set-up, Ultimate Band might just be a viable alternative. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

Ultimate Shooting Collection
Grade: F
Publisher: UFO (2009)
Reviewed: 2009/7/8
Rating: Everyone


screenshotSomeone had a lot of gall to name this Ultimate Shooting Collection. It's a compilation of three sub-par vertical shooters, two originally released for the Dreamcast and another for the GameCube (Chaos Field). Even had this been called "Marginal Shooting Collection", it still would have struggled to live up to its name! Hey, I crave 2D shooters as much as the next guy, but it's hard to get excited about these clunkers, partly because they're so weird!

Karous tries to be artistic with its understated, cell-shaded visuals, but it comes off as bland and repetitive. The screen is cluttered with too many confusing gauges and indicators. You control a black bird that fires rapidly but is also armed with a close-range "sword" and a not-so-special attack. Bottom line: Karous is boring!

The next title, Radio Allergy (aka Radirgy) makes better use of cell-shaded graphics, with colorful, interesting stages that include lush parks and city streets. Its gameplay isn't much better than Karous, though. Of the three selectable weapons, only the "wide shot" is effective. Enemies are generic floating machines that leave tons of icons in their wake. These icons have random pictures on them like an ice cream cone, a banana, or a pair of flip-flops. I have no idea what that's all about. Whenever you shoot anything, little blue squares float over to the "Abuzo network gauge" on the lower left of the screen, and it's terribly distracting. I also dislike how you can shoot down most - but not all - incoming projectiles. It's a confusing mess.

Chaos Field is the last entry, and while it looks better (it consumes the entire screen), it's probably the worst of the bunch. This ill-conceived shooter combines two terrible concepts. The first is the idea of using a "sword" as a windshield wiper to "wipe away" incoming projectiles. Alternating between shooting and wiping is beyond tedious - it's painful! Worse yet, the game is nothing but one boss encounter after the next. Yes, I'm talking about those giant, boring bosses which stick around for 15 minutes while periodically dispersing ridiculous barrages of projectiles.

You'll have a perfectly miserable time wearing down each one. The options are minimal, but an option to adjust the display would have been nice so I could shift the screen down to see my score! Ultimate Shooting Collection is just plain bad, but its deceptive packaging (featuring two fighter jets) is the final straw. It just proves the old adage: three wrongs don't make a right! © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Vacation Isle Beach Party
Grade: D-
Publisher: Warner Bros. (2010)
Reviewed: 2015/6/20
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe Wii library is so clogged with generic "party" games you have to be skeptical about Vacation Isle Beach Party. I do like how it supports the balance board, which I hadn't dusted off in a while. Having fond memories of Wii Sports Resort (Nintendo, 2009), I hoped Vacation Isle would follow in its footsteps.

The intro features the song "Vacation" by the Go-Gos, but the grainy video doesn't inspire confidence. Steel drum music plays over the menus and that always sounds good. There's a wide variety of events supporting up to four players each. The problem is, they all utilize the balance board so only one person can play at a time.

In the slalom event you lean from side to side to waterski around buoys. It's mildly enjoyable at first but drags on for too long. The same can be said for all the other events: ski jumping, wakeboarding, surfing, stand-up paddle, and stunt park. Offering a much-needed change of pace are two dance events: fire dancing and hula dancing. The idea is to roll your hips while moving your arms to the beat, but the movement detection is extremely loose.

Upon completing an event you'll hear canned applause that sounds lifted from an old movie (creepy!). The events are too easy and collecting sand dollars to buy "gear" is kind of pointless. High scores are saved but not with names or initials. Vacation Isle seems okay at first but you'll get tired of it really fast. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Wario Ware Smooth Moves
Grade: C
Publisher: Nintendo (2006)
Reviewed: 2007/8/26
Rating: Everyone

screenshotSmooth Moves mimics the formula of the insanely popular Wario Ware games for the Nintendo handheld systems, but isn't quite as much fun. As with all Wario Ware games, each stage begins with an animated introductory sequence. Depending on your personality (and attention span), these cartoons will either endear themselves to you or try your patience.

Once the action begins, you're presented with a quick succession of brief mini-games. And when I say brief - I mean brief - we're talking a few seconds each! Before each game you're advised on how to hold the Wii-mote. There are dozens of these "forms", including the umbrella (hold straight up), elephant (hold out from the nose), sword (hold by side), waiter (hold on palm), and discard (set flat on a table so it can be picked up). These forms are gradually introduced by a slow, mellow, deep male voice using hilarious wordy descriptions that almost sound suggestive in tone. That's the type of weird, offbeat sense of humor that pervades the entire game.

Half the fun of playing these rapid-fire mini-games is quickly figuring out what you need to do. Most involve simple movements, like shaving whiskers, sinking a pool ball, answering a phone, trimming fingernails, jumping rope, scrubbing a cow's butt, or shaking up a bottle of champagne. Sometimes you won't realize what you need to do until the game is over, and sometimes you'll accidentally win without knowing what's going on. Completing stages unlocks more challenges, and you can always replay old stages, which become tougher as you progress. A few "bonus" mini-games let you shoot targets, balance blocks, or hit a ball with a paddle, but it didn't find these to be any fun at all.

One big drawback of Smooth Moves is the fact that it's one-player only, although it can be fun to take turns and watch your friends make fools of themselves. Smooth Moves is tough to rate. I really appreciate its crazy humor and fantastic sense of imagination, but the game is only fun in short spurts, and I tired of it quickly. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Warioland Shake It!
Grade: B-
Publisher: Nintendo (2008)
Reviewed: 2011/4/10
Rating: Everyone

screenshotWhy did this game sit on my shelf for a year before I finally reviewed it? Could it be because Wario is such an ugly, conniving bastard? Let's face it, this guy is always going to be a side-show freak until he cleans up his act! As if his constant snickering and diabolical schemes aren't bad enough, he's picking his nose in the opening cutscene! Also hurting the game is the "Shake It" title which suggests a lot of mindless controller waving at the expense of real gameplay. But as unappealing as it may seem, this game packs some good old-fashioned 2D fun.

Shaking the controller does play a role, but it's not nearly as annoying as it could have been! The game's distinctive graphics look like something from an old Saturday morning cartoon show. The foreground is quite sharp and detailed, but the distant backgrounds have a softer appearance that sets them apart. The short stages take you through Aztec ruins, Egyptian pyramids, savannahs, volcanoes, and pirate ships. To reach the end of each stage you'll shoulder-charge enemies, leap between platforms, and use whiz-bang contraptions.

You get all the standard platform elements (spiked pits, breakable blocks, hidden switches), but Warioland has a few surprises up its sleeve. Each stage features a unique challenge like riding a unicycle on a tightrope, and there are some imaginative enemies like robots on stilts. There's even a rapid-fire submarine stage. When you shake the controller Wario performs a ground-pound move that will daze enemies, detonate bombs, and cause movable blocks to rise and fall. When in doubt about what to do next, shake the controller! When holding a sack of money, shaking will empty it, causing coins to rain out. While it might seem a little tedious, it's always satisfying to scoop up those coins. Tilting the Wii-mote lets you aim cannons and throw objects with precision.

Some stages can be a little tedious, and those pesky diving birds are a pain in the butt. Upon reaching the end of a stage you then must race back to the beginning as a clock counts down. It's not as bad as it sounds because short cuts tend to open up on your way back. In general the gameplay is pleasant and a jazzy musical score gives it a laid-back feel. Warioland Shake It isn't spectacular but it's not a bad way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon. But seriously Wario, you need to get your [expletive] together! © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

We Love Golf
Grade: F
Publisher: Capcom (2008)
Reviewed: 2017/7/18
Rating: Everyone

screenshotMy Wii console has fallen victim to neglect in recent years, so when I spotted We Love Golf at a used game shop I jumped at an excuse to wipe off the dust and fire up that bad boy. What sport is better suited for motion control than golf? And since this game is published by Capcom, you know it has to be good! My imagination ran wild as I fantasized about playing a round as Mega Man, or maybe Ryu from Street Fighter, or perhaps Jill Valentine of Resident Evil fame! Sadly my hopes and dreams were dashed when I was greeted on the title screen by generic mii characters. Booooring!

Oh well, at least the courses look nice. Actually, they look freakin' gorgeous with rolling green fairways and lush vegetation under a deep blue sky. This is what a golf game should look like. The tranquil piano music is relaxing and there are practically no load times. I love the presentation, but when it comes to golf games good control is paramount, and that's where We Love Golf falters. Badly.

This game has the most ass-backwards, counter-intuitive controls I've ever experienced in my entire life! It's comical really! The curved swing meter is cluttered with so many markers and animated icons it's absolutely bewildering. Most Wii golf games encourage you to swing naturally, but not this one. No, the meter moves so slowly there's no freakin' way you can synchronize your swing with it. Swing naturally and the game tells you you're doing it wrong!

The good news is, this game is so forgiving that the ball usually goes straight no matter what the hell you do. Just swing away and ignore that animated Wiimote in the corner of the screen that goes flaccid because you hit a "bad" shot. You'd expect an option to switch over to a simple button-based control scheme, but nope! This game has only one control mode, and that's the one that doesn't work. We Love Golf is a real piece of [expletive]. It doesn't matter how much you love golf; you're going to hate this game. . © Copyright 2017 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

We Ski
Grade: C+
Publisher: Namco (2008)
Reviewed: 2009/2/28
Rating: Everyone

screenshotAt first I pegged We Ski as a cheap attempt to cash in on Nintendo's hugely popular balance board (sold with Wii Fit). The "Ski School" tutorial makes a lousy first impression. It doesn't seem aware of the balance board, and the complexity of the controls is excessive.

The skiing in Wii Fit required no explanation at all, so why does We Ski have an hour long tutorial? Do we really need to learn sidestepping or snow plowing to play this game? I had one hell of a time figuring out how to crouch (tuck). All you need to do is curl your wrists in, but the manual's misleading diagram suggests some type of crazy arm movement. The manual could also use a quick reference for "air tricks", because they are hard to remember.

After getting past the initial frustration however, I gradually began to appreciate We Ski. The friendly graphics, pleasant music, and support for Mii characters makes it feel like a close cousin of Wii Sports (Nintendo, 2006). After you get into the rhythm of the game, it's quite enjoyable. The sense of speed is decent, and leaning into turns using the balance board feels realistic. If you don't own the balance board, don't worry, because leaning by tilting the controllers works great too.

We Ski features one mountain with a wide variety of well-manicured slopes. The scenery is so bright and inviting that I even enjoyed sight-seeing while riding the lifts! Progressively difficult challenges become available as you progress, and while some are great fun (racing, slalom), others border on tedious (like the find-Waldo style people searches).

The bouncy soundtrack is sprinkled with classic game sounds, which really adds to the upbeat tone of the game. Also nice is the ability to night ski or play a four-player split-screen. It takes a while to warm up to, but I like how We Ski conveys the sensation of actual skiing while maintaining the spirit of a light-hearted arcade game. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

We Ski and Snowboard
Grade: B
Publisher: Namco (2010)
Reviewed: 2011/2/5
Rating: Everyone

screenshotThe original We Ski was fun but limited in scope. This fine sequel expands the concept in a number of ways, beginning with the option of using a snowboard. The game was designed with the Wii Balance Board in mind, and I personally wouldn't want to play it any other way. As in the first game, the balance board is only used to steer - not control your speed.

We Ski and Snowboard effectively conveys the feeling of gliding down the slopes as you lean from side to side. When I'm in a groove and trying to avoid a group of slow skiers in my path, it feels just like the real thing! In snowboard mode you stand sideways on the board, and it's a little more conducive to performing tricks and grinds. The controls are probably more complicated than they really should be, and the "school mode" is really time-consuming. Why couldn't they just list the controls in the manual? But no, instead they include worthless diagrams showing where the A button is. Who can't figure that out? The tricks tutorial expects you to remember too much, but fortunately you don't need to know them all to enjoy the game.

The main mode places you in a realistic ski resort, complete with working chair lifts, lodges, and restaurants. With the muffled music and hundreds of skiers milling around, it's quite immersive. The graphics are simple but inviting with smooth powdery slopes and scenic backdrops. I enjoyed checking out the scenery while riding the lifts, and I kind of wish you could enter the lodge and restaurants. By speaking to people with bubbles over their heads you can enter challenges or run various errands - usually of the "deliver this" or "find that" variety. There's a ton of stuff to do, but with all the quests and trick-related challenges, it can be hard to find a normal race event.

Personally I found the game was most enjoyable when I was casually exploring the various trails. The runs are well designed with all sorts of interesting features like bridges, ramps, and caves. Although the main trails are clearly defined you're free to head off the beaten path and take shortcuts through the woods. The sound effects are crisp and clear, providing excellent audio feedback of slicing through soft powder or scraping ice. If you want to take a break from the crowds, a separate mode lets you explore a giant mountain with undisturbed natural scenery. This is where you can do some "extreme" skiing action, and you can even work up a sweat if you really get into it. We Ski and Snowboard is the ideal winter game, and probably the next best thing when you can't get out to the real slopes. . © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

We Wish You a Merry Christmas
Grade: D

screenshotWe Wish You a Merry Christmas puts the player in a cozy living room with a tree, fireplace, and all sorts of yule-tide activities. You can decorate the tree and play Christmas carols on the radio (which sound beautiful by the way). You can toss wood in the fire and roast marshmallows. Opening your advent calendar reveals bonus items like ornaments to hang on the tree.

Of course, the mini-game collection is the main attraction, each supporting up to four players. Deck the Halls plays like turn-based Dr. Mario (NES, 1990) as you strategically place toy soldiers, snowmen, and drums on a grid. While neat in concept, it's so easy it feels like it will never end. That's a recurring theme. Whether you're bouncing presents into the air, making hot chocolate, or tossing gifts off Santa's sled, the challenge just isn't there and often neither is the control.

Elf Bowling is the highlight. Ten little elves stand at attention as you wing a bowling ball down the icy lane, causing them to cover their faces in anticipation and shout with their high-pitched voices "get ready - here it comes!" and "hold on tight!" When they get slammed and their stiff bodies go flying all over, it's hard not to laugh at their little screams.

Elf Hunt is a find-Waldo style activity where you scour a colorful illustration for a lengthy list of hidden items. It sounds dumb but I was hooked! You can also send a Mad Libs-style letter to Santa. Mine was rather creative and I'm glad this game isn't online. We Wish You a Merry Christmas is shallow in terms of gameplay but exudes enough holiday spirit to earn a passing grade. © Copyright 2018 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Wii Fit
Grade: B
Publisher: Nintendo (2008)
Reviewed: 2010/7/30
Rating: Everyone

screenshotWhile Sony and Microsoft are trying to nickel-and-dime gamers on-line, Nintendo comes up with innovative concepts with universal appeal. Wii Fit is Nintendo's response to reports that everyone is getting too damn fat. Obesity is especially harmful to kids, and video games have become the scapegoat de jour. Wii Fit does the unthinkable - it makes exercising fun!

The included balance board controller has a surprising number of applications. It's extremely accurate at determining your body position and doubles as a scale. Wii Fit encourages exercise on a daily basis, and each session begins with a quick body test to calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index). From there, you can select from a wide variety of yoga, strength training, aerobic, and balance game exercises. Yoga focuses on balance as you assume and hold a series of tricky poses like the half-moon, palm tree, and triangle.

Strength training incorporates more conventional exercises like push-ups, lunges, and squats. Aerobics features heart-pumping hula-hoop, boxing, and jogging exercises. The jogging is interesting because it doesn't use the board at all. You simply jog in place while holding the Wii-mote, and beautiful island scenery makes the time pass quickly. Last but not least, there are the balance games, which provide the most fun.

The slalom skiing game is so enjoyable it could practically stand on its own! I also had fun with the soccer heading, snowboarding, ski-jump, and table tilt games. Wii Fit may provide a less vigorous workout than weights or a treadmill, but the entertainment value makes it easier to stick to your regimen. I try to clock at least 30 minutes a day, and the minutes just fly by! Making it all the more addictive is the fact that you're scored after each exercise, and it's fun to top your personal best and unlock new exercises along the way.

If I had one reservation, it's the need to hold the Wii-mote in one hand the entire time, which can throw your balance off ever so slightly. I was skeptical of Wii Fit but now I'm hooked. It may not produce dramatic results, but anything that keeps gamers focused on their health has got to be a good thing. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Wii Fit Plus
Grade: A-
Publisher: Nintendo (2009)
Reviewed: 2010/7/31
Rating: Everyone

screenshotI might have been a little generous with the first Wii Fit game, which was fairly limited in terms of long-term replay value. Plus is an expansion pack of sorts that expands the scope of Wii Fit, helping it live up to its promise. First of all, Plus lets you set goals, which is a pretty big deal. When you see your line on the graph progressively moving toward the goal you set, it gives you an extra boost of incentive.

Wii Fit Plus evaluates you on more factors (including stillness and judgment), and keeps you updated on the number of calories you burn throughout your workout. Additional yoga and strength exercises have been added, but let's face it - it's the mini-games that people are truly interested in.

There are about 10 new entries that offer an excellent blend of exercise and fun. Rhythmic Kung Fu is my personal favorite, letting you mimic Miis on the screen as they bust out timed kicks and punches. Cycling is similar to running, except you pedal by stepping on the board. Marching Band is a great idea, but lasts too long and wears out its welcome.

The golf driving range isn't physically demanding, but I was impressed with its realism. You must stand on the balance board while swinging, but unfortunately the board's short length will force you to narrow your stance a bit. Still, when I used my natural golf swing I hit the ball well and the game recognized me as a golfer. The Segway game is interesting as you ride around a beach while popping balloons. Some of the more usual games let you fly by flapping your arms, or juggle while balancing on a ball!

The biggest disappointment is probably skateboarding, which tends to be awkward and frustrating. Plus also expands on some old favorites including the table tilt, bubble balance, and basic run. I'm not convinced Wii Fit Plus is intense enough to serve as a stand-alone exercise routine, but I think it's a fine supplement to a regular workout routine - if only to monitor your progress. You'll come for fitness but stay for the fun. © Copyright 2010 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Wii Music
Grade: F
Publisher: Nintendo (2008)
Reviewed: 2008/12/13
Rating: Everyone

screenshotFor those of you who think the VGC is on Nintendo's payroll, let me put your mind at ease by explaining how Wii Music absolutely sucks! Despite boasting the same friendly interface that made Wii Sports and Wii Fit so popular, Wii Music comes off as pointless and dull. The crux of the game involves "jamming" with friends or CPU-controlled characters. There are dozens of instruments to select from, but they all fall into four basic categories: guitar, percussion, horn, and violin. You hold each instrument similar to how you would in real life, and playing involves shaking or pressing buttons to the beat.

The actual notes are played automatically, so your control is limited. You can sometimes improvise by squeezing in some extra notes, but that usually sounds bad. Wii Music is an example of Wii motion controls at their worst. They are so loose and semi-automated that you never really feel as if you're playing an instrument. There's little satisfaction to be had, and the boredom sets in quickly. The "jam sessions" are pointless, and the three game variations are weak.

Mii Maestro lets you conduct an orchestra, but all you do is move the wand up and down. Handbell Harmony lets you ring bells to a melody, but unless you have a group of people to play with, it's pretty shallow. Perfect Pitch is a series of music puzzles that require you to arrange notes by pitch or determine which instrument is out of tune. It's about as enjoyable as a multiple-choice test.

The song selection isn't anything to write home about, and having to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star throughout the extended intro is absolute torture. Sure you get "Zelda" and some familiar classical tunes, but when "Do Re Mi" is one of the better songs, you're in some serious trouble. I was confounded by the fact that Wii Music offers so many options for replaying performances or saving them as "music videos". Sitting through them once is bad enough! After an impromptu jam session, I asked my friend Steve for his thoughts on Wii Music, and his response was simply "Burn it." © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

Wii Play
Grade: C
Publisher: Nintendo (2006)
Reviewed: 2007/5/4
Rating: Everyone

screenshotLike Wii Sports, Wii Play offers a collection of quick, easy-to-play mini-games best enjoyed head-to-head. The first game, Shooting Range (C), is a dead ringer for Duck Hunt, but instead of ducks, you're blasting targets, UFOs, and tin cans. It's not great, but if nothing else it demonstrates how well the Wii could handle a light gun title.

In the next game, Find Mii (D), you locate faces in a crowd, but I didn't find its "find Waldo" style of play the least bit appealing. Table Tennis (C-) seems to have potential, but the limited, side-to-side movement of your paddle makes it feel like Pong with fancy graphics. In Pose Mii (D), you twist and contort your Mii into various positions to fit into floating shapes. It's shallow fun, but gets old in a hurry. Laser Hockey (C+) plays like air hockey, but its graphics are rendered in a neon light motif that makes it look a lot more compelling than it really is.

Billiards (A-) is my personal favorite, offering a modified version of 9-ball where you score based on the number of the balls that you sink. Whether playing solo or against a friend, the pinpoint controls and close-up "windows" make it a pleasure to run the table. You'd think Fishing (F) would be a real treat, but its execution is extremely poor. Not only does the game insist you sit very close to the TV (or else a message blocks your view), but the rod control doesn't feel natural at all.

"Charge" (C+) is hands-down the best cow racing game I've ever played. By tilting your controller you ram your charging bovine into scarecrows and leap over barriers. At first glance, Tanks (B-) resembles the classic "Tank Pong" variations of Combat (Atari 2600, 1977), but instead of shooting each other, the goal is to shoot more enemy tanks that your opponent. I was pretty psyched up about Tanks at first, but I think this game missed the mark. There is some enjoyment to be had with Wii Play, but the fun is fleeting. The most compelling aspect of this package is the free controller included with it. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 or 2 players 

Wii Sports
Grade: A-
Publisher: Nintendo (2006)
Reviewed: 2007/5/4
Rating: Everyone

screenshotHas there ever been a better pack-in game than Wii Sports? This phenomenal title appeals to kids, senior citizens, and everyone in between. Its five sports included are played by mimicking the natural movements you would perform while playing the actual sport. Whether you're pitching a baseball, swinging a golf club, and rolling a bowling ball, the controls are responsive and intuitive. It's not necessary to make large, exaggerated movements (a flick of the wrist will suffice), but it's usually more fun.

Wii Sport's graphics are extremely simplistic, with cartoonish characters that lack arms and legs. Still, the minimal visuals have a certain charm. Bowling (A) may be the most fully realized game in the package, with excellent controls and pins that bounce around realistically. The most challenging game is Golf (B+). Although there are only nine holes, they look gorgeous, and I love how I can use my actual golf swing to play this game! Putting can be problematic however, with controls that sometimes feel unresponsive.

A scaled down version of Baseball (C+) is the weakest entry of the package. Contests are limited to three-innings, and everything is CPU-controlled except pitching and batting. Swinging the bat feels terrific, but there are far too many foul balls. Boxing (B) can provide a genuine workout as you use the nun-chuck attachment to control both hands of your boxer. The semi-transparent fighters call to mind the Punch Out arcade game (1985). Although the animation rarely keeps up with your hands, the punches land with impact and the action is intense.

Tennis (A) is the highlight of Wii Sports. Your player moves automatically, but your ability to aim the ball and apply spin provides all the control you need. All five games offer tremendous replay value, but don't dismiss the training and fitness modes. The training mode amounts to a collection of awesome mini-games, which include hitting a golf ball onto a large bulls-eye, or bowling into a rack of 100 pins!

The fitness mode measures your physical skill much like Brain Age (Nintendo DS, 2006) measures your mental skill. A few option menus would have been nice (like the ability to turn off the instant replays), but overall Wii Sports packs a wallop. When playing solo, the games adjust to your skill level, and in terms of multiplayer action, this is the ultimate party starter. Load times are negligible and your progress is saved automatically. If you're thinking about buying a Wii, Wii Sports is all the reason you need. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

Wii Sports Resort
Grade: A
Publisher: Nintendo (2009)
Reviewed: 2009/9/15
Rating: Everyone

screenshotAs a worthy follow-up to Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort offers a variety of fun-in-the-sun mini-games. Not only are these fun to play with friends, but they also pack substantial replay value for the solo player. The first event is Swordplay (grade: B-), which is probably the most highly anticipated. Each player wields a sword with precision, and the B button is used to alternate between attack and defense poses. Playing a friend is undeniably fun, despite the fact that contests usually degenerate into mindless beat-downs.

Wakeboarding (B) offers simple fun as you steer your water-skier from side-to-side, jerking the controller to jump off the boat's wake. Tricks are performed in the air automatically, but you'll need to focus on the landing. In Frisbee (A+) you throw a disc to a dog on a beach while trying to hit a particular target. The smooth throwing controls work like magic, and the game is extremely fun. Frisbee golf is also an option, and it's equally outstanding.

Archery (A-) is another winner. The controls mimic the act of pulling a bow, and the accuracy of the Wii-Motion plus is quite evident. This compares very favorably to the time-consuming archery events in Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games (Sega, 2007). Basketball (B) features a three-on-three pick-up game and a three-point shooting contest. The semi-automated pick-up game is confusing, but the three-point contest features excellent, natural shooting controls.

I've played Table Tennis (A) video games before, but none as simple or intuitive as this one. The manner in which you can apply spin is uncanny, and I love the short-but-sweet matches. Golf (C+) is reprised from the first Wii Sports, and it's a bit of a letdown. The controls are somewhat awkward and touchy, and only nine new holes are included. Bowling (A+) makes a triumphant return, and it's much more challenging this time. A new "spin challenge" mode places moving barriers in the lane, and the 100-pin rack is now available as a normal event.

Power Cruising (B+) offers jet-ski action similar to Wave Race Blue Storm (GameCube, 2001) except you're racing the clock as you weave through gates. I like how you hold the two controllers as if they were handlebars. Canoeing (C-) is one of the least fun events, and its repetitive, physical nature would probably be more appropriate for Wii Fit. Likewise, cycling (D) feels like a chore as you alternate the controllers up and down to simulate pedaling. Air Sports (B) offers several flying events, including one which lets you buzz the entire island in a plane while collecting icons and shooting balloons.

Overall, Wii Sports Resort offers amazing playability and competitive fun for all ages. Wii Sports was a landmark title, but this sequel surpasses it easily. NOTE: Wii Sports Resort includes one Wii-Motion Plus controller attachment, and this accessory is required to play. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Grade: C+
Publisher: Capcom (2007)
Reviewed: 2008/7/13
Rating: Everyone

screenshotMost gamers don't know about Zack and Wiki, but those who do tend to crow about it. The star of this "point and click" adventure is a boy pirate named Zack, and Wiki is his obligatory cute animal sidekick (like we haven't seen that before!) Although rendered in a kiddie style, the colorful visuals are a lot of fun. I especially love the lush, overgrown Indiana Jones-style ruins. The musical score is also impressive, effectively adding a layer of drama and suspense.

Each of the small, self-contained stages contains a treasure chest which can only be reached by solving a series of interlocking puzzles. Normal objects like umbrellas are used in ingenious ways, and animals can be magically transformed into other useful tools like a saw or flute. A star-shaped pointer is used to move Zack to a spot or interact with an object. It's fun to grab items this way, but guiding Zack up steps and around obstacles can be pretty tedious.

Wii-mote motions are used to make the action more immersive. You'll shake the Wii-mote to ring a bell, make sawing movements to cut down a tree, and carefully rotate the controller to insert a puzzle piece into place. Zack and Wiki is at its best when the action is slow and deliberate, but when required to react quickly, the controls seem to lag a bit.

The cleverly-designed stages incorporate some ingenious concepts. For example, in one snow stage you shake a tree to dump snow and cover your tracks to keep the "Ice Keeper" off your tail. Sometimes you can trigger elaborate chain reactions that are fun to watch. Each stage is satisfying to complete, but the challenge ramps sharply, and the potential for frustration is high. Cerebral gamers will become obsessed with this game, but others will find themselves hitting brick walls. Trial and error is necessary at times, forcing you to repeat tedious tasks.

Another turn-off is the extended intro. Not only do you have to page through endless text, but there's usually only three or four words on the screen at a time! "No! [A button]They're shooting us! [A button] Uh-oh! [A button]" etc. It doesn't help that the high-pitched Japanese dialogue sounds like baby talk! The game has an auto-save feature, but I wish there was some kind of visible indicator on the screen. Zack and Wiki is a unique title for patient gamers looking for a thought-provoking challenge. If that describes you, bump up the score by one letter. Others should proceed with caution. © Copyright 2008 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 


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Screen shots courtesy of IGN.com, Family Friendly Video Games, MobyGames.com, Cheat Code Central