Wii Sports – Review

Wii Sports holds the accolade of Nintendo’s biggest selling video game with 82.9 million units sold as of 2022. However, these figures seem less impressive when you keep in mind that it was part of the bundle when you bought the Wii.[1] That being said, one cannot fault Nintendo’s pushing of gaming boundaries here. The results may not have been perfect, but it sparked an array of easily accessible games for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy.

Title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

Wii Sports is a sports simulation game developed and published by Nintendo. It was released for the Wii in 2006. For this review, I dusted off my old Wii and had a trip down memory lane.

Plot (or in this case, what is the game all about?)

As with all sport sims, there is no “plot”. Instead, there are five different sports for you to compete in and can be played with upto four players with the exception of boxing and baseball which are single- or two-player games. To play the games, you use the Wii remote to simulate the actions you would make if you were to play these games in real life.

Tennis

Gameplay

With up to four players, you can choose to play a single game, best of three games or best of five games. The direction you hit the ball is very much based on the timing of your swing and the position of your Mii (your character). However, when serving, you simply raise your remote as if throwing a ball into the air before swiping at it to send it towards your opponents. The rules and point system are the same as a real life tennis game.

How Does It Handle?

The fact that the direction the ball is hit is based on the timing of your swing and the position of your Mii can be frustrating because you don’t have control over the position of the Mii. Their movements are controlled by the computer and so one can be forgiven for shouting, in the immortal words of Eliza Doolittle in the movie of My Fair Lady (1964), “Move your bloomin’ arse!“. One little hint when serving is that if you can time it so that you strike the ball when it has reached its peak height, you will hit the ball incredibly hard and fast, making it difficult for your opponent to return the serve.

Graphics

For all the sports in this game, the Mii designs are never going to win prizes for asthetics. However, they don’t need to be breathtakingly detailed because that is not what Wii Sports is about, so I won’t hold their design against the game. The environments of Tennis are nicely coloured, and conjure up feelings of summer days watching Wimbledon and eating strawberries and cream. The varying arrays of greens is rather impressive.

Music and SFX

You only really hear music when you are selecting how many players will play or during the replays when you win the match. The SFX are very realistic. From the sound the ball makes as your strike it, to the cheer of the crowd when a point is scored the SFX are awesome. The umpire calling out the scores after a point is scored reminds me a lot of old arcade games.

“New balls please!” (screenshot taken by the author)

Baseball

Gameplay

Up to two players can play at any one time. One player bats and the other player pitches. Once you get three opposing players out, your innings ends, and it is your opponents turn to bat. Each team has three innings but if one team leads by 5 runs, a mercy ruling is imposed and the game ends with the winner being the team with the most runs.

To hit the ball when batting, you simply need to time your swing as the ball approaches. However, the pitcher will use all their cunning and guile to throw different types of pitches to ensure you miss the ball. For example, by simply motioning the remote as if throwing a ball, your pitcher will perform a fastball (the fastest ball I can pitch reaches 151KM/H). The faster you throw, the faster the ball will travel. Holding the ‘A’ button while throwing will perform a swerve ball. Holding the ‘B’ button will perform a curve ball and holding both ‘A’ and ‘B’ will perform a splitter. This is where the ball swerves downwards at the last second making the batter swing and miss. If you swing and miss three times, your batter is out. If you hold your nerve and don’t swing at the splitters, four times, then your player will get a free walk to first base. Hitting the ball into the stands within the foul lines will win you a home run, and all players at the bases can freely run home to score you points.

How Does It Handle?

As the pitcher, trying to disguise your pitch is all part of the fun. The fielding is automatic and so once you throw a pitch, the rest of the game is out of your hands. As the batter, timing your swing is everything. Once you hit the ball, that is pretty much all there is to it. You can’t steal bases, you simply hit the ball and let the computer do the rest. It is a simple game, but suprisingly fun in two-player mode.

Graphics

Again, the graphics are adequate for what the sport is offering. Clear and colourful graphics…what more do you want from such a game?

Music and SFX

You hear the Wii Sports fanfare (which is very memorable) as the players line up at the beginning of the match, and another piece of music once the match has been won (which is not very memorable). Some noticeable SFX consist of when you strike the ball and when the ball is caught by a fixture. However, the main SFX comes from the constant crowd noise giving you a real sense of stadium atmosphere.

“Let’s go Blue Jays!!!” (screenshot taken by the author)

Ten-pin Bowling

Gameplay

This can be played with up to four players. Each player has ten frames. In each frame, you are allowed to bowl twice, with the object being to knock down all the pins. If you knock down all the pins with your first ball, your frame is over and it is the next person’s frame and so on (Note: For frame 10, if you get a strike or a spare, you will end up bowling an extra ball. The maximum score you can achieve is 300 (My highest is only 192). Before bowling the ball, you can adjust your aim, then you simply hold down ‘B’, and perform a bowling motion, letting go of ‘B’ as your follow through.

How Does It Handle?

The game handles very realistically I think. As a right hander, there will always be a natural draw to the left when bowling (to the right if you’re a southpaw), but the method to adjust your position and trajectory is easy to use (this doesn’t mean getting a perfect game is easy though). By twisting the remote as you bowl, you can add spin to the ball as it sails down the lane which is fun to try and master. One nice little quirk of the game is that if you let go of the ball too early, it will fly backwards and land with a thud making the spectators jump.

Graphics

Nothing spectacular is needed for this type of sport, but there are some nice touches. For example, seeing the reflection of the pins and the ball as it is being bowled adds to the illusion of a slick and well maintained bowling alley. Also, when the camera pans around so that you can see what’s behind the bowler. There you can see all the Miis wandering back and forth to their lanes.

Music and SFX

The main SFX are the satisfying noise of the pins as they tumble together and fall. Interestingly, for this game they have chosen a lo-fi soundtrack that I didn’t notice at first that plays throughout. However, the post-game music is a nice guitar-riffed country-esque affair, and arguably the nicest piece of music in the entire game.

“We’re gonna score tonight. We’re gonna score tonight!” (screenshot taken by the author)

Golf

Gameplay

Up to four players can play at any one time. The aim is to get around the nine-hole course in the least number of strokes. To the left of your Mii, you will see a gauge. As you swing the remote, a blue bar will appear to fill the gauge. The harder you swing, the more the gauge will fill. However, if you swing too hard, the gauge will turn red, causing your shot to either draw or slice uncontrollably. You can take as many practice swings as you like but when you wish to hit the ball you will need to press and hold the ‘A’ button to move the Mii forward to prepare for your shot. To help gauge how hard you should swing, dots on the gauge correspond with the dots on the map to your right. This will indicate where your ball should land (taking into account wind and elevation etc.).

How Does It Handle?

I think the game handles well. You are able to swing the remote incredibly lightly too when putting, allowing for the deftess of touches.

Graphics

Again, a lovely array of greens set against a cloudy but blue sky, with the odd sand bunker or water feature present. The colourscheme is strangely relaxing and comforting.

Music and SFX

The main SFX are the when you strike the ball, and when it lands in the water, on land, or when you get it in the hole. If you hit the ball well you are greeted with a “Nice Shot” vocalisation and a cheer from the crowd which (realistically) dies down as the player addresses the ball for their next shot. There is also the pleasant ambience of nature around you complete with bird tweets.

Driving for show, putting for dough (screenshot taken by the author)

Boxing

Gameplay

Up to two-players can play at any one time. The object is to knock your opponent out. Using the Wii remote and the nunchuck, you block, jab and hook as you would if you were really boxing. You can also tilt the controllers left or right to bob and weave and evade the opponent’s strikes.

How Does It Handle?

Although this game shows the potential future of sporting sim games, I didn’t spend much time on the boxing. There is little finesse to the game and I feel that you just end up slugging it out. I’m sure there are people out there who practically make their Mii dance, but I did not have the inclination to become as proficient.

Graphics

Your Mii is transparent but your gloves are fully opaque. I would have liked the option of first person perspective for this game.

Music and SFX

The only music you hear is an urban beat sounding piece after the fight when your stats are shown. The most distinctive sound you’ll hear is the crowd noise as they cheer during the fight. There’ll be plenty of familiar sounding thuds as punches are landed too.

“You’re gonna eat thunder and crap lightning” (screenshot taken by the author)

Extras

As an extra bonus, the game also contains two other features. The first is a training mode which gives you three different training sessions per sport to help improve your skill. The second is a fitness mode which uses tennis, baseball, and bowling to test your speed, strength, and stamina. It then calculates your Wii age…my last attempt put my age at 33. At the time of writing this in 2022, I am 39 so I’ll take that.

Replay Value

Personally, I found this game to have tons of replay value, especially in two- or multi-player modes. The gaining of experience points was a good option to as the competitve amongst us will ensure their Mii has the highest number of points. However, I do also concede that Wii Sports may also be a Marmite game. You’ll either love it or you’ll hate it!

Personal Memories

Many years ago, when I used to live with a buddy, Friday nights were for listening to Reel Big Fish and playing Wii Sports. We’d crack open the beers and would compete mostly on golf and baseball. We occasionally play bowling and tennis, but our hearts lay with golf and baseball. We actually became pretty darn good at the golf game and could birdie most holes.

Did I Complete The Game?

As with most modern sport sims, this is not the sort of game you complete.

What The Critics Said:

Allgame: “As a key launch title, Wii Sports accomplishes everything it sets out to do. It introduces the system’s control scheme in an appealing way, it incorporates the cutesy Mii characters for a personal touch, and it shows off some of the console’s communication capabilities by sending players notes whenever they achieve a certain milestone. More importantly, it is exactly the type of game that will bring users of all ages and skill levels together for laughs, cheers, and some excitement about what may be in store from Nintendo in the years ahead. Overall 12/25.[1]

Electronic Gaming Monthly: Good – Grandma can play, comes with the system. Bad – Zero depth. Coolest Feature – Seeing your customized Miis wandering the sidelines. Overall 19/30.[2]

Eurogamer: “…what it’s actually got here brilliantly embodies the Wii’s dramatic premise: that this kind of control can appeal to people who don’t play games and people who used to play games as well as people who’ve been playing them for as long as we have. That’s not to say that it’s all things to all people, or that it’s without flaws – but when you get lost in tennis late at night, you can be playing because your opponent’s smart, and needs to be forced out of position with varied ground shots, top spin and precisely angled shots; or you can be playing because, golly Michael, come see what Tom’s brought home, it’s a sort of magical tennis racket. It’s more than the parlour game that we all expected, then, but perhaps the beautiful thing is that it still can be that if you want it to. Overall 8/10.”[3]

Gamepro: “Even though Wii Sports is included in the system, we don’t want to give it too much leeway because it’s free. But, realistically, we can’t help but enjoy the fact that we’re getting a solid sports experience for nothing. It’s definitely more fun in groups and won’t have a great deal of longevity, but anyone who doesn’t find at least some fun in Wii Sports has a heart of coal. There, I said it. Overall 4.25/5.”[4]

Gamerspot: “The first time the games included in Wii Sports were shown to the public, it was simply as tech demos to prove that Nintendo wasn’t totally crazy for building a whole console around motion-sensitive controls. Though there’s still kind of a tech-demo feel to Wii Sports, it’s a fun, unique package you’ll enjoy so long as you don’t expect too much detail from it. Overall 7.8/10.[5]

Gamespy: “Wii Sports is at its best in a group setting, where the familiarity that everyone has with these games makes them incredibly easy to pick up and play. It’s a game you can play with your friends and family, and it perfectly highlights the direction that Nintendo is taking with the platform. It’s not the best-looking game on the system, and it’s definitely not the deepest, but it may well be the most fun. You’re not forking over any money for Wii Sports, so consider it the best money you won’t spend this year. Overall 4/5”.[6]

GameTrailers: “Wii Sports is incredibly fun to play for the first couple days you have it, and you’ll undoubtedly sell some Wiis for Nintendo if you bust it out at a party. But eventually, the relative lack of depth to any of the games exposes it for what it is–a free game that comes packed-in with the system. Overall 8/10.[7]

GameZone: Mario. Tetris. Mario World. Wii Sports. These are the four games Nintendo has chosen to include with four of their game consoles. In terms of sales and longevity, Wii Sports won’t do for Nintendo Wii what Mario did for the NES. Wii Sports won’t be played by as many people as Tetris. It is, however, a killer, innovative showpiece that will draw in anyone who witnesses all that it can do. Sure, it lacks goals and can be beaten very quickly. But the ultra-responsive technology and high multiplayer replay value are far greater than any other party or sports game collection. Excite Truck is good, but this is the one that should’ve been packed in Wii kiosks all over the country. Overall 8.5/10”.[8]

IGN: Wii Sports is a successful showpiece for Nintendo’s new hardware and a fantastic means to get non-gamers talking about Wii. Not all of the games are spectacular. Given the choice, I’d prefer not to play either boxing or golf, which is disappointing because both sports seem like a fine fit for the remote. But the games that do work really work. Baseball is good in short bursts. Tennis is a lot of fun, especially with two or more. And bowling is fantastic – I can’t wait for Nintendo to use these mechanics and release the inevitable (and much deeper) Mario Bowling.

What you’re going to find in Wii Sports is a title that demonstrates the potential of the Wii remote, but comes up short in depth and visuals. Play it for an hour with friends and you’ll love it. Your non-gamer friends will be dazzled by the immediately intuitive controls and the imported Miis. But the title sacrifices incredible depth and visuals for an immediately accessible experience. Overall 7.5/10.”[9]

Nintendo Gamer: “…even though the tennis, golf, and baseball aren’t that great, there’s still no denying that Wiis Sports is a lot of fun. Bowling and boxing alone make it a great party game, and the rest of the sports, though flawed, at least provide a glimpse of what the Wii is capable of…Overall 78/100.”[10]

Nintendo Life: It’s simply a fun game that is somewhat plagued by the simplicity and a few other errors, but offers a refreshing and satisfying experience. Overall 8/10.”[11]

Nintendo Power: “The whole fitness aspect is cool, but in the single-player game you’ll experience everything Wii Sports has to offer in a matter of hours. Then again, the game does come free with the console, so ГИ stop whining. Overall 8.25/10.”[12]

Official Nintendo Magazine: “Maybe a month or two down the line you’ll have put Wii Sports back on the shelf because the basic nature of the games means that once you get used to them there isn’t much of a replay factor (although the training mode does provide a number of missions for you to complete). But if someone comes over to your house and asks to see how the Wii works, Wii Sports is the game you’ll use to demonstrate. It’s simple yet has a surprising amount of depth, and when played with
a group of friends is one of the best multiplayer experiences on the Wii. And it didn’t cost you a penny. Overall 90%
.[13]

PALGN: A very solid first effort for the Wii, and provides just a taste of what is, and what will be, great about the Wii console. Pick it up, play it and have fun. Very nice. Overall 7.5/10.[14]

Videogamer: “Undoubtedly, Wii Sports did start out as “just a tech demo” but the game that’ll arrive with your Wii has come a long way since then. It’s come far enough, in fact, that were Nintendo to sell this separately for say £20, it would be something akin to a must buy. It may not win any awards for the best looking or sounding game but it’s great pure fun, and is instantly accessible to pretty much anyone. We all know roughly how to swing a tennis racket, or bowl a bowling ball – even if we haven’t done either before – and the Wii Remote does a great job of recreating the sensations of the real thing by being neither too accurate nor too forgiving, but just right. Overall 8/10.[15]

My Verdict:

“I have a real soft spot for this game. The multitude of fond memories I have playing it with friends may account for my generous score. Wii Sports will never win awards for graphics, but the colours and sports designs are pleasing to the eye. Most of the music and SFX are easily forgettable, but I think there is so much fun to be had playing this with friends that it can be forgiven its shortcomings.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Wii Sports? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] Sirani, J., (November 8th 2022). The 10 Best-Selling Video Games of All Time. IGN.com. (https://www.ign.com/articles/best-selling-video-games-of-all-time-grand-theft-auto-minecraft-tetris accessed on 20/11/2022).

[2] Marriott, A.S., ‘Wii Sports – Review.’ Allgame. (https://web.archive.org/web/20141114211231/http://www.allgame.com/game.php?id=49826&tab=review accessed 21/11/2022).

[3] ‘Wii Reviews – Wii Sports’. Electronic Gaming Monthly. (January 2007). Issue 211:63.

[4] Bramwell, T., (December 1st 2006). ‘Wii Sports Revolutionary?’. Eurogamer. (https://www.eurogamer.net/r-wiisports-wii accessed on 20/11/2022).

[5] Mr. Marbles., (November 16 2006).  Gamepro. (http://www.gamepro.com/article/reviews/86628/wii-sports/ accessed 20/11/2022).

[6] Davis, R., (November 19th 2006) ‘Wii Sports Review’. Gamespot. (https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/wii-sports-review/1900-6162054/ accessed on 20/11/2022).

[7] Villoria, G., (November 14th 2006). ‘Reviews – Wii Sports’. Gamespy. (http://wii.gamespy.com/wii/wii-sports/746088p1.html accessed on 20/11/2022).

[8] (November 19th 2006). ‘Wii Sports’. GameTrailers. (http://gametrailers.com/gamereview.php?id=2661 accessed 20/11/2022).

[9] (December 7th 2006). ‘Wii Sports’. GameZone.com. (http://wii.gamezone.com/gzreviews/r29662.htm accessed on 20/11/2022).

[10] Casamassina, M., (November 13 2006). ‘Wii Sports Review’. IGN.com. (http://wii.ign.com/articles/745/745708p1.html accessed on 20/11/2022).

[11] Staines, D., ‘Wii Sports’. Nintendo Gamer. (January 2007). Issue 1:54-55.

[12] Joo, J., (November 24th 2006). ‘Wii Sports Review’. Nintendo Life. (https://www.nintendolife.com/reviews/2006/11/wii_sports_wii accessed on 20/11/2022).

[13] ‘Wii Sports’. Nintendo Power. (January 2007). Issue 211:96.

[14] East, E., (January 9th 2008). ‘Nintendo: Wii Reviews’. Official Nintendo Magazine. (http://www.officialnintendomagazine.co.uk/article.php?id=2423 accessed 21/11/2022).

[15] Larsen, P., (December 7th 2006). ‘Wii Sports Review’. PALGN. (https://web.archive.org/web/20071228032840/http://palgn.com.au/article.php?id=6137&sid=d23b3592c374f829cb0f456ef6d94064 accessed 21/11/2022).

[16] Vandervell, A., (November 28th 2006). ‘Wii Sports Review’. Videogamer.com. (https://web.archive.org/web/20061208205821/http://www.pro-g.co.uk/wii/wii_sports/review.html accessed on 21/11/2022).


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Premier Manager 97 – Review

Managerial games have always been popular amongst sports fans. In real life, us armchair managers always know best and regularly converse with others about the failings and shortcomings of our respective teams and question why managers aren’t playing a certain player or a certain way. Managerial sports sims allow us (in a small way) to put our money where our mouths are.

Oddly, Premier Manager 97 doesn’t seem to have a title screen (screenshot taken by the author)

I struggled to find much information on Premier Manager 97 other than it was developed and published by Gremlin Interactive and released in 1996. As far as I can tell, it was only released on the Mega Drive (although I have seen screenshots for it on PC), so that is the what I will review.

The object of the game is straight forward. You manage a team and must lead them to the glory by winning leagues and cups whilst not over spending in the transfer market.

When the game opens, you have the choice of how many players who wish to play (1 or 2), what type of game (full or demo, although why you’d buy a game only to play the demo is beyond me), to start a new game or to load a saved game. 
 
Once you enter your name, you can choose to manage any team from the Third Division. These were the days when teams like Brighton and Hove Albion were nowhere near the Premier League. Other teams who have competed in the Premier League in the past few years such as Hull City, Swansea City and Fulham can also be found wallowing in the lower leagues.

The main menu helps you navigate the game (screenshot taken by the auhtor)

Once you have choose the team you wish to manage, you are taken to the home screen which contains a text box at the top explaining your name and the team you manage, your position in the league, what competition the next match will be for (league or cup) and the date. Below that, you can choose from 12 icons. From left to right and top to bottom, these icons:

Transfer Market – Where you can choose to buy and sell players.

Stadium – Invest money in your stadiums to improve its capacity and facilities.

Club Finances – Best keep an eye on your ingoings and outgoings.

Squad – Where you can see your squad and player stats and change formation and tactics.

Cup – Shows you the fixtures and results of the two domestic cups.

Sponsorship – Choose which companies to advertise in your stadium. All monies go towards your club revenue.

Phone – Hire and fire backroom staff, set up training for players, see injured players, see who your scout is recommending and how your youth team players are progressing. 

League Tables – Keep an eye on your league position.

Save Game – Save or load a game.

Question Mark – Choose to turn off game animations, and which league and cup results you see.

Fax – Keep an eye on the latest news.

Whistle – Play your match day fixture

See the stats of your squad (Screenshot taken by the author)

When the match starts, you are taken to a screen that shows the name of the two teams playing and a gauge with a ball that moves left and right showing where the ball is on the pitch. When action happens, a simple animation appears in the style of an old dot-matrix scoreboard. There are several animations but the main ones you’ll see are either near misses, saves or goals. Occasionally you see a booking, where the referee appears and holds up a card, and/or an injury where an ambulance parks up and opens its rear doors.

You also have the option to adjust the game speed. I personally prefer to put the speed on Ultra speed. At any time, you can stop the game to make tactical changes. Your squad team screen will automatically appear at halftime, if you have an injury or a sending off.

If an event happens such as a goal or booking, the description of the event (goal, booking etc.), the name of the player and minute will appear under its respective team.

The stadium screen allows you to make improvments to your groun to increase capacity and upgrade facilities (screenshot taken by the author)

One of the aspects of the game that I didn’t understand was that not only does each player have several numbered stats (Handling, Tackling, Passing Shooting etc) but they also have an overall rating of:

  • Fair with up to four stars
  • Good with up to four stars
  • Very Good with up to four stars
  • Superb with up to four stars
  • World Class
  • Outstanding
  • The Ultimate

I don’t see the point of this overall rating as you can see the stats you need. The stats are more valuable (and clearer) as to how good a player actually is.

One of several animations that appear during the match (Screenshot taken by the author)

Compared to the likes of Championship manager 97 (Champs) and Ultimate Soccer Manager 2, Premier Manager 97 may look crude and seem rather basic. To my mind it is a simpler introduction to the world of football management and is certainly quicker to play than Champs.

The menu is user friendly, and the game is easy to learn. The hardest aspect of the game is simply working out your tactics and keeping an eye on your bank balance. You don’t have to deal with disgruntled players, or with bigger clubs swooping in to tempt your better players away from your club.

The music and SFX are pretty much non-existent but then you are not playing this game for those.

I owned this game back in the 90s and found it very addictive. I got very good at the game and used to win all the trophies and competitions. Revisiting the game, I can’t remember how I did it and certainly have not been as successful. I found the balancing of your money very difficult and failed to attract more fans through the gates. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something very simply and it will no doubt dawn on me at some point.

Did I complete the game?

If by complete you mean win all the trophies, then yes, certainly in my youth, I did.

What the critics said:

At present, I cannot find contemporary gaming reviews for this game.

My verdict:

Easy to learn with intuitive menus. Not as comprehensive or as difficult as Champion Manager 97, but can still be a challenge and fun to play. It’s easy to dip in and out of too. Mediocre graphics though.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Premier Manager 97? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.