Wii Play Motion Hands-On Preview

Wii Play Motion's new minigames had our Mii floating through the air with umbrellas, skimming rocks, and whacking helpless moles with a mallet.

With Nintendo's Wii Play dominating the sales charts since its release in 2007, it came as no surprise to hear that Nintendo is working on a follow-up. Like its predecessor, Wii Play Motion comes bundled with a controller, this time complete with built-in Wii MotionPlus. Its 12 minigames are designed to take advantage of the controller's advanced motion-tracking capabilities, while also being simple enough for families to play together. Wii Play Motion dominated Nintendo's stand at this year's MCM Expo, so we warmed up our waggling arm for a look at four of its minigames.

The first was called Skimming, which--as the name suggests--involved hurling rocks at a lake and bouncing them across the water. You can choose from a variety of different objects to throw, ranging from smooth pebbles, through to objects like boomerangs and UFOs, all of which bounce in different ways. For instance, the boomerang bounces farther, but because of its shape, you have to be careful that it doesn't turn around and come back inland. We decided to stick with a simple pebble for our first throw. To throw it, we held down the B button and swung our arm out towards the lake. By tilting the Wii Remote we were able to change the angle of the stone, which affected the way it bounced. We also experimented with throwing backhand and forehand, but found our backhand throws resulted in the most bounces. When throwing forehand we often threw too hard, causing the stone to rocket into the air and land back in the lake without a single bounce.

Less physical was Wind Runner, which relied upon subtle tilts of the Wii Remote. We had to guide our Mii over a ramp-filled course, catching gusts of wind in an umbrella to move forward. The vertical angle of the Wii Remote changed the direction of the umbrella, which we tried to match to the direction of the plentiful gusts of wind. When we matched the angles correctly, we gained a speed boost, enabling us to leap off ramps and collect gems floating above the course. The number of gems we collected, along with the time it took us to complete the course, were totaled up at the end, giving us an overall score, which happily bested that of the Nintendo representatives we were playing with.

Similarly tilt-based was Pose Me Plus, a take on the Japanese Human Tetris game show. Our Mii floated in the air and struck different body poses. The aim was to tilt our Mii using the Wii Remote to fit into shapes cut out of approaching walls. After we passed through several walls, a number of gems appeared, requiring further tilting to reach them as they floated near us. Unlike the previous two minigames we played, Pose Me Plus was played cooperatively. All the players onscreen had to line their Miis up correctly before any of the others could progress. If one player got it wrong too many times, the game ended.

The final game we played was the simplest of all, but also the most fun. Veggie 'Guardin was a take on the classic Whac-a-Mole arcade game, requiring us to hit moles that popped out of holes in the ground using a virtual mallet. Some moles were wearing hard hats, requiring two hits to take down, while others were extremely tall, requiring several frantic bashes with the mallet to send back underground. Sometimes Miis popped out of the holes holding fruit, which if hit by accident caused the fruit to explode over the screen and cost us points. Playing with multiple players made Veggie 'Guardin more fun, with each player having to move quickly to ensure their mole wasn't hit by another player.

While Wii Play Motion doesn't break any boundaries when it comes to minigames--it's not like we haven't seen Whac-a-Mole before--the simple controls and bright Mii-infused graphics will likely appeal to families and younger players. Whether the demand for Wii Remotes with built-in Wii MotionPlus makes the game as popular as its predecessor, however, remains to be seen. Wii Play Motion is due for release on the Nintendo Wii on June 13.

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