E3 08 Preview: Fun in the sun, minus the melanoma.
Nintendo proudly touted two upcoming additions to its popular Wii Series at this year's E3. The first was Wii Music
. See Gaming Target's preview of Wii Music here
. The second was Wii Sports Resort
This latter title is the sequel to the popular Wii Sports
that Wii owners received as the pack-in game with their consoles. As with the original game, Wii Sports Resort
features a number of sports themed mini-games that make use of the Wii's motion controls. Whereas the original Wii Sports
focused on traditional athletic events like boxing, tennis, and baseball, the sequel features a more casual, yet nonetheless competitive, selection of activities. As the "Resort" in the game's title suggests, all of these sporting events take place in sunny, tropical settings.
Only three mini-games -- Disc Dog, Sword Play, and Power Cruising -- were playable at E3. The original Wii Sports
featured five mini-games. It is a safe bet that Nintendo will include at least this many in the final version that ships in spring 2009.
In Disc Dog, the objective is to throw a frisbee to a small dog. The player must get the disc as close as possible to an on-screen target. The closer the dog catches the disc to the target, the more points you receive. The game controls as one would expect. The player pulls back his or her arm and then quickly thrusts forward in an arc, just as if you were throwing a frisbee in real life.
Power Cruising is a jet ski simulator akin to the Wave Race
titles that appeared on the Nintendo 64 and Gamecube. Here the player approximates steering a jet ski by holding the Wii remote and nunchuck horizontally. The object is to steer your Mii through a series of checkpoints. The demo only featured one stage, but Nintendo hinted that more tracks would appear in the final version of the game.
Of the three games, Sword Play most caught our attention. Here, two players face off against each other in a sword-fighting duel atop an elevated platform. The platform stands in the middle of a body of water. The goal is for one player to knock the other off into the abyss below.
All the player must worry about is swinging the sword and blocking since the game automatically controls the Mii's movement. The Wii remote responds realistically to various techniques. Raising the Wii remote above your head, for instance, causes your Mii to raise his blade in the same fashion. Swing downward from this position and the blade will hit your opponent square in his or her melon-shaped head.
The Sword Play match between Gaming Target's Matt Swider and I ended in a draw after three rounds. This meant a tiebreaker was required to determine the winner. My opponent and I were lifted skyward by a smaller platform that emerged from the fighting area. This small playing area made it even harder to keep one's footing as the other player whacked the daylights out of my Mii. Unfortunately this punishment resulted in me toppling backwards off the platform and into watery humiliation.
All in all, each of these three games were entertaining and made great use of the Wii's controls. I look forward to seeing what other activities Nintendo may add in the final version.
Aside from the game itself, Nintendo's biggest announcement regarding Wii Sports Resort
is that the game uses the company's new add-on peripheral, the Wii MotionPlus. This add-on is a white box that fastens into the port at the bottom on the Wii remote (don't worry, the MotionPlus also has a port on the bottom that allows you to attach the nunchuck). One Wii MotionPlus will ship with copies of Wii Sports Resort
The device provides a 1:1 ratio of movement with the Wii remote. In other words, with the MotionPlus attached, the Wii remote approximates even the most subtle of the player's hand movements. This is opposed to only responding to larger, sweeping motions. The Wii MotionPlus worked just as Nintendo promised. In Disc Dog we cold tilt the remote every which way and the Mii on-screen would follow our precise movements with the frisbee.
The Wii MotionPlus would seem to be a big step in the right direction for the Wii's controls. Many gamers expressed disappointment after the Wii's release that the controls of many of its games did not totally mimic your motions, but rather responded only to preset movements. This device seems to be Nintendo's way of addressing that complaint.
As expected, third party developers have already begun to implement Wii MotionPlus support into future games. Most notably, Ubisoft recently announced that Red Steel 2
would support the peripheral.