Legend tells of a game. A game so accessible to young and old, experienced and inexperienced alike that it became the second best selling video game of all time. That game is Wii Sports. While this motion control buffet was bundled with the Wii for the majority of its lifespan, it's still an impressive feat to sell more than 82 million units and reach so many people. Nintendo had caught lightning in a bottle, and the bottle was for sale. I'll never forget the first time I picked up a Wii remote and swung at that oversized tennis ball.
While Wii Sports Club has been in Wii U players' hands since last fall as an eShop exclusive it has only now hit store shelves as a $40 bundle of somehow-already-nostalgic-inducing glory. So put on your sweatband, because it's time for round two.
Tennis! You serve, the ball comes back, you hit it over the net again. And repeat. There's not much to say about it besides the fact that it's still fun and makes for the best "pick up and play" experience (as bowling can take too long). Slamming a well placed shot is still more enjoyable when your opponent is standing next to you, but there's an odd rush to destroying strangers online in such a peaceful sport.
There's also a whack-a-mole type training game that's extraordinarily addicting. If only I had a better back hand...
Easily one of the most accurate and satisfying of the five sports. While I can't say it's much different than the bowling included in Wii Sports Resort, it still has some seriously tight controls. It should also be noted that multiple people can play with only one Wii remote, making it the go to for those who are lacking an arsenal of controllers.
America's favorite past time is likely my least favorite sport to watch in real life. I'd rather watch curling. Honest to god, curling. Playing baseball, on the other hand, is a different ball game (GET IT?). There's nothing quite as satisfying as knocking one out of the park, be it in the real world or a virtual one. Batting has been improved slightly with the motion plus interface, though there is still a bit of lag on faster swings. Luckily it's not too hard to adjust your swing on the fly.
The real change here is the pitching and fielding, which have been completely overhauled with GamePad support. Pitching has lost a bit of its pizazz with a lack of actual motion, but it's given players more options in the form of alternate pitches, speed and accuracy. The new power meter is a nice touch and adds to the overall feel of slinging in a strike. In the past all fly balls would be caught automatically by the nearest Mii, but this time around you have to actually hold up the GamePad and position it for the catch. It's fun, though it makes me pine for my favorite slugging sim, Rusty's Real Deal Baseball.
Like most people I do have an extended family, unfortunately they don't live near me. My household consists of a wife and a dog. A dog who is terrible at video games. I didn't play Wii Sports Club with my family, but I can tell you that much like the original outing it is a game that works well in a family setting. It's simple, competitive and kid friendly. If you're looking for a game to play with your younger kids or aging parents it's a solid choice.
I am terrible at golf, let me just put that out there. I've probably played a real round of golf three times in my life and not once did it go well. I am, however, pretty darn good at the Mario Golf series. Going into golf I had a feeling it was going to be more like real world golf and I was painfully correct. Golf in Wii Sports Club has the most creative use of the gamepad, the best looking environments and most relaxing gameplay. But I couldn't hit a straight shot to save my life. Golf is all about control and accuracy. I have neither. Plenty of folks could have a blast with golf in Wii Sports Club, but I'm going back to World Tour.
As I mentioned in my introduction, a physical copy of Wii Sports Club will run you 40 wingwangs. However, if you just want one or two sports you can purchase them individually (with the exception of boxing and baseball, which are paired together) for $10 a piece. But wait, there's more! If you just want access to the games for 24 hours you can shell out a measly two bucks for a day pass to all five sports. I'll go over my recommendation for purchasing in the conclusion, but let me just say that the various ways to pay are a nice way to get more bang for your buck. The real issue comes with owning Wii remotes, which I'll touch on later.
Wii Sports Club online is exactly what it sounds like. You can go online and play against a friend or a random person on the other side of the globe. There aren't really any bells and whistles added on, which sadly means you can't audibly curse at your grandma over wifi for acing that last serve. Each sport has its own online option and they're all very simple and cleanly designed with regional and worldwide options. It is pretty satisfying to finally play Wii Sports online, considering I felt it should have been an option even back in 2006.
The best part of the online infrastructure are the little Miiverse taunts and tips that pop up after you perform well or fail miserably. It gives the game a nice human connection and can make you feel like you have friends, even if you're playing by yourself. Not that I don't have friends! Come on, guys.
Despite being far from the most powerful current-gen console, the Wii U is still able to churn out some very pretty polygons. Characters and environments in Wii Sports Club have been drastically improved, but it's nothing mind blowing. Mario Kart 8 this is not.
Boxing was far and away my most anticipated sport to try out. The original had players attempting to pummel their opponent with a Wii remote and nunchuk combo. This time Nintendo made the right move and added support for double Wii remote fisticuffs. As the game loaded up I practiced my quick jabs and uppercuts as I paraded around my living room humming "Eye of the Tiger". I know boxing can be about strategy and isn't always about barraging your opponents with punches, but this was not what I had hoped for. I must be too quick because the game just couldn't keep up and half the time it read the wrong action. Jabs became uppercuts. Uppercuts became side swings. Many times my flailing limbs produced no effect at all. Maybe I'm just not a patient fighter, but boxing is still Wii Sports weakest link.
Wii Remote Plus Required
One enormous pain in the neck for some is the fact that you absolutely can NOT play Wii Sports Club without a Wii remote plus controller. Only have an original Wii remote? Not going to cut it. Want to play multiplayer tennis or box with both hands? Well, you're going to need even more controllers. Club also doesn't come with anything extra, unlike Wii Sports Resort, which came with a motion plus dongle. If you don't have a Wii remote plus then you're looking at shelling anywhere from $40 to $160 on extra controllers. That's a hard sell.
Wii Sports Club receives the first ever split verdict. If you're the family type and you want a game that you can play with your loved ones, young or old, then Wii Sports Club is a good fit. If you want a stellar single player experience with hours of replay ability, detailed online leader boards and deep gameplay mechanics, Wii Sports Club isn't for you. Games don't get much more casual than this, but that doesn't mean you won't enjoy flailing around with pals. The best part is that with Wii Sports Club's digital offerings you can weed out the sports you don't want to deal with, or you can use the "Day Pass" to get a game in whenever you have the need.
Regardless of your experience as a gamer, Wii Sports Club is a solid title that improves on the simple but effective gameplay of the Wii original.