'So, what does Wii Sports Golf play like?' Our golfing friends asked us at the pub immediately after the play-test. To this, there really is only one answer. It plays like playing actual, real golf to us. But like a hundred times more fun, because you can take as many shots as you like (without having to shell out for another bucket of balls like you do down the local driving range) and you don't have to argue with your local, irate park-keeper about the shoddy council clubs he's given you.
With our ego suitably stroked, we then had a shot at putting. Again, practice is the key, as well as reading the lie of the putting green, in order to get your direction right. We were soon knocking in solid putts from fifteen, twenty feet away, expertly curling them round or down some tricky looking slopes. So, after twenty minutes or half an hours play, we'd grasped the basics and could easily have got properly stuck into a full eighteen-holer. However, this was not a full version of the final game on show, but it was enough to whet our appetite and we will definitely be taking on our 'competitive Dad' at this come Christmas. Hopefully whilst we're both sporting our new Pringle jumpers and Farah sta-prests.
If there has to be any criticism of the game, it could (if you were churlish) be said that it lacks depth and its too easy. Although if you really, actually think this, then you are probably the type of gamer who would rather be playing the latest Links or Tiger Woods 'proper' golf game. In our opinion, you can keep all that, because we had more fun in the half hour of playing Wii Sports Golf than we have ever had in the hours wasted playing 'proper' golf games.
Onto Tennis. The Wii Sports Tennis demo has been one of the most publicised games on the console to date. Indeed, for many, it was after seeing Nintendo's creative powerhouse Shigeru Miyamoto and company president, Satoru Iwata alongside their American marketing fella, Reggie Fils Aime all playing each other at Wii Sports Tennis back at E3, that the Wii penny finally dropped.
Perhaps the greatest thing about Wii Sports Tennis is that you can play with up to four players. Perhaps the second greatest thing about Wii Sports Tennis is that even if (like us) you royally suck at Real World Tennis, you can soon pick up and play this game. The controls are so straightforward that an average five year old will be able to pick up the game and soon be giving his Dad a good knock about. You serve by flicking the WiiMote up in the air, then you select a forehand or a backhand shot, then you select how hard you want to hit it with the speed of your swing.
Unlike Golf, we really aren't fans of real tennis. It's a toff's game, innit! However, yet again, we can't wait to introduce our nephews and nieces and various siblings to this game come Christmas. To say it's intuitive is an understatement. If you manage to find somebody who cannot figure this game out within five minutes then they are either genuinely mentally retarded, so you should really stop embarrassing them, or they are just genetically incapable of playing a video game, so you should really stop embarrassing them.
Finally, Baseball, our favourite on the day, just managing to make us smile a fraction more than Golf and Tennis before it. 'What's it like?' they eagerly asked in the pub. 'Well, you know, it's a bit like softball' we answer. 'NO! The game, you idiot....'
Well, it's like the other two. It's like a cutesy simplified version of baseball, where you try and whack the ball as hard as you can. You wait till the ball nears you and you feel it's the right time to swing, then you swing and hope for the best. An early swing either misses or hooks the ball to the left (or the right, should you be a leftie). Likewise, a late swing either misses or slices the ball off to the right. Simple and beautiful. Like we always dreamed 'The American Game' should be.
If we actually had any actual experience of baseball, we would probably scoff a little at the rudimentary nature of this game. However, we don't, so this is most probably the Wii Sports title we'll be playing on our own, when Dad's passed out snoring on the sofa after lunch, and all the siblings and nephews and nieces have gone off for their cheery Christmas walk down the cemetery to see the dead people's names on stones.
To sum up: Wii Sports - incredibly intuitive, very easy, superb fun. Wii Sports is a winner. It's not going to replace Tiger Woods/Links or Virtua Tennis or Major League Baseball or any other so-called 'proper' sports games. But it's not meant to. Yes, it lacks depth and realism, but what it lacks in those departments it more than makes up for in the smile-inducing and fun-for-all departments. Which is kind of the point of the Wii, we feel.
As a party game, Wii Sports is pretty much unparalleled and if, as it's currently rumoured, Nintendo will be shipping the Wii bundled with Wii Sports, then SPOnG is confident that these graphically-average but gameplay-gold little games will be running on a Wii very near you this coming Yule.