Wii Sports

Wii Sports is the game that comes with the Wii. Since it's the template for several other sports games for this system, as well as one of the reasons you might choose the Wii over another console, it deserves a closer look.

The game features tennis, baseball, bowling, golf and boxing. Of these, boxing is the only sport that requires the nunchuck attachment. The rest of the games can be played using only the remote, which is surprisingly sensitive to small movements. This means that most of the games are delicate, precise activities rather than energetic sports.

Tennis is particularly relaxing. With no need to run around chasing the ball, and the satisfying sound of whacks and swoops when you connect with it, it's a lot of fun with little effort. However, the controls are counter-intuitive. Rather than hitting the ball to the left or the right by moving the remote at an angle, the direction it goes depends largely on how you time the shot. The same principle applies in baseball, so you always hit foul balls when your timing is off. It takes a while to get used to, because it's not the way you would normally play these ball games.

Golf and bowling are games where precision is vital. Compared with Real World Golf for the Gametrak, there's a lot less swinging involved in Wii Sports golf. It's easy to hit the golf ball too hard, even at medium distances. All you need is a short flick of the wrist, a lot of the time. Bowling is similar, in that it's very sedate and you need accuracy much more than strength or speed.

Boxing is the only Wii Sports game that's liable to raise much of a sweat. Although boxing is more vigorous, bouts are short and matches consist of three one-minute rounds, provided you don't knock out your opponent earlier. So if you're looking for something that will help you lose weight and get fitter, this game is only effectively a warm-up. It's better than sitting down and twiddling your thumbs, but it won't wear you out. Wii Sports isn't aimed at the dedicated exerciser.

There's a training mode, where you can practise various aspects of each sport in short bursts. Much sillier than this is Wii Fitness, where you get to learn your Wii Fitness age. Each Mii, or profile, can only do this once a day. It involves doing three random games in Training Mode. This is silly because it bears little relation to your actual fitness, it's simply a measure of how well you've mastered the games. The test can easily last under 10 minutes, so stamina doesn't come in to it. However, since it's short and easy this does encourage you to test yourself regularly.

When you've done Wii Fitness, or any of the other games, it shows you a graph of your progress. Unfortunately, although scores are obviously being saved there's no high score section to look at. Good results are sent to the Wii Message Board, which means you have to navigate out of the game to go and check them. And there doesn't seem to be anywhere to view and compare everyone's high scores together, in a table or graph.

Visually this game should appeal to kids. The simple Mii characters are so stylised they don't even have arms attached to their bodies, and it's all done out in cheerful colours and simple, geometric lines and shapes. This makes it very easy to focus on what you're doing.

Overall Wii Sports is accessible, gentle, and fun to play. It demonstrates a few of the things the Wii is capable of, and sets a fairly high standard of play for future games to (hopefully) measure up to.