The Player

by Marty Demarest & r & & r & Wii Play Rated Everyone: Wii & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & ithout the promise of a "Bonus! Wii Remote," I might not have bought Wii Play. The box stated that it contained "9 Games" and showed a smattering of pictures -- pool, ping-pong, target shooting -- that suggest full-fledged pool, ping-pong and shooting games. But the real selling point was the picture of the Wii Remote taking up a full third of the box's front and banded by the words "Inside!" " & Agrave; l'int & eacute;rieur!" " & iexcl;Incluido!"

It wasn't surprising that the Wii Play box ignored the games in favor of the Remote. Wii Remotes are rare these days -- even scarcer than Wiis themselves. I think the acquisition of another remote makes Wii Play worthwhile -- I can now play Wii Sports' Tennis, for example, with another player. But I dutifully tried the games that came with my brand-new Wii Remote.

Nintendo has seen fit to make me unlock my way through Wii Play's nine "games," beginning with a revisitation of one of the original American launch titles for their home entertainment empire: Duck Hunt. Gone is the sniggering dog that would rise from the grass after I missed my shots. In his place are balloons, targets, soda cans and aliens for shooting. With two remotes and one player, it's a double-fisted firing range.

The Where's Waldo Mii finding game is inane, even when it progresses to making me use a flashlight in the dark. Wii Play's Table Tennis is really nothing more than Pong, and doesn't compare to the aforementioned Tennis. Most of the games are crippled by the Wii's greatest flaw: despite its motion sensitivity, the Wii Remote doesn't actually put me deeper in the game -- it keeps me outside, pointing at the action instead of moving within it.

Only the cow-racing game -- in which the Remote is held sideways and tilted to control the animal -- and the fishing game, take advantage of the Remote's full motion sensitivity. Neither of these are particularly fun. Wii Play's billiards game does give me a modicum of response when I pull my Wii Remote back to draw my pool cue, but the hits are all limited to gentle, medium and strong when they translate to the screen.

Once all nine games are unlocked (there is also a toy tank combat game and a game of "Laser Hockey," like air hockey) Wii Play becomes a mildly diverting one-on-one toy. But since multiplayer is limited to two players, it lacks the capacity to get a room involved.

THE GOOD: The included Wii Remote makes Wii Sports (a game every Wii owner owns) much more fun. Finally it's possible to play against friends in a one-Wii home. It also makes two-fisted gunslinging possible in Wii Play's Duck Hunt-like shooting gallery, and opens up a decent game of two-player billiards that might just tide some Wii owners over until the next Mario Party arrives. (Plus they'll be all set up with an extra Wii Remote -- did I mention that's included?)

THE BAD: Cow racing. A Where's Waldo-type Mii-finder. Remedial fishing. And worst of all: a match-the-Mii-to-its-silhouette game that hearkens, in a hyper way, back to infancy and its shape-recognition toys.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Wii Play is a nine-pack diversion but not much of a game.

2/5 Stars