The Wii may still have some gas left in the old tank before Nintendo launches its fancy successor in 2012, but it feels a little late in the game to be dragging out yet another collection of minigames designed to show off the system's not-so-recently updated motion controls. Wii Play: Motion is the latest medley of wacky minigames to make use of the tighter 1:1 controls. Though it's an opportunity to nab an extra MotionPlus controller that's included in the package, the dozen bite-sized games in this collection vary both in quality and the amount of fun you can squeeze from them. Wii Play: Motion does have greater depth and a broader scope than the original Wii Play, but it's just hard to muster much excitement over the mostly mediocre offerings found within.
Like many of Nintendo's first-party titles, Wii Play: Motion makes prominent use of Miis. You start by selecting one of your custom Mii characters to play as, and the game then liberally sprinkles other support Miis into the minigame activities. They lend a lot of charm to the game's exuberant presentation, and a few of the minigames use them in funny ways to elicit a chuckle or two. The game selection menu only features a handful of available activities from the get-go, but new games are unlocked as you play. Performing well in each event earns you medals needed to progress. Once you've hit the score quotas needed to unlock them, each game has several different modes or multiple stages to play through. Not all of the extra play variations are as fun as the main games, but they round out the overall selection and provide a goal to work toward beyond unlocking all of the 12 core minigames.
The collection gets off to a very simple start. In Cone Zone, you hold the Wii Remote like an ice cream cone and tilt it to help your Mii balance a growing stack of ice cream scoops that fall from the sky. There are a few minutes of tense amusement as the precarious tower teeters. Unlocking the alternate mode opens up another fun little diversion that lets you tilt and spin the cone to pile on a flowing mass of soft serve. Skip Skimmer is just as basic; you pick different kinds of smooth stones and flick the Wii Remote to send them skipping across the water for points. There's a certain Zen-like quality to it that makes the fun but one-note gameplay last far longer than expected. Though it's the most elaborate of the three, Veggie Guardin' is the weakest game in the first tier. This twist on Whack-A-Mole has you bludgeoning a burrowing critter to keep it from stealing fruit and veggies. The controls are so sensitive that it's too easy to accidentally swing the cushy mallet more times than you mean to, sometimes bludgeoning other Miis that pop up instead and losing points in the process.
Fluctuation in quality carries on throughout the rest of the games that unlock as you play. At the positive end of Wii Play: Motion's diverse spectrum is Wind Runner, a fun racing minigame that has your Mii using an umbrella to catch gusts of wind and zip along a track to collect gems. Jump Park sends your Mii bouncing off walls and platforms through the air at tight angles to grab sparkling goodies. Pose Mii Plus is another short-but-entertaining activity that has you rotating your Mii in specific positions to fit through walls at high speeds.
For the most part, the minigames do a decent job of showcasing the more precise sensor features of the Wii MotionPlus. One of the more enjoyable activities, Trigger Twist, is a shooting gallery game that lets you point the Wii Remote around the room in any direction to aim at bad guys approaching you from all sides. Aside from using the enhanced motion controls in a clever way, the game's multiple stages test your reflexes against bounding ninjas, pesky UFOs, and rampaging dinosaurs. Each stage offers a slightly different flavor of shooting action, and there's a nice measure of variety between levels. Spooky Search, another game that makes interesting use of the controls, has you pointing offscreen and aiming around the room to detect ghosts. The Wii Remote's speaker beeps louder and faster as you get closer to tracking down a ghost. Meanwhile, the gaggle of Miis on the screen point around the room to offer some guidance. Once you find a ghost, you must grab it and wrangle the specter back to the screen to trap it. It's a cool concept that works well.
Other minigame selections aren't as well thought out in their use of the Wii MotionPlus enhancements. Star Shuttle is tanked by an atrocious control scheme that features awkward button controls. Trying to guide your spacecraft safely to dock with a floating station by tapping different buttons to engage six different thrusters is frustrating and unintuitive. Flutter Fly's hand-cramp-inducing gameplay has you frantically shaking the Wii Remote at odd angles like a fan to generate wind and guide a balloon through a maze. Treasure Twirl has you deep-sea diving for treasure by rolling the Wii Remote on its side while tilting it in mid-twist--a clumsy combination that does little to improve the short length and shallow gameplay of this minigame. Then, there's the hypersensitive controls in Teeter Targets that make having to tilt spinning platforms to whack balls into targets within a time limit more irritating than fun.
When you consider that one of the goals of Wii Play: Motion is surely to highlight how awesome the Wii MotionPlus is supposed to be, it's puzzling that so many games with weak or irritating control schemes made it into the mix. There are a couple of shining gems in the bunch, but this collection suffers from some serious stinkers too. For the games that are actually entertaining beyond the first 10 minutes of play, adding more players into the mix increases the fun. Still, the best part about this collection is that it comes packed in with an extra Wii Remote. That's not going to be enough to entice most players to suffer through the rough minigames for meager moments of fleeting fun.