E3 06: Wii Sports: Baseball Hands-On

Batter up! We take a few hacks at this hardball batting demo for the Wii.

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LOS ANGELES--Three straight pitches, three straight home runs. That was the hot streak we started out with during our first look at the Wii Sports batting demo, Baseball. As one part of the Wii Sports minigame package (which also includes tennis, golf, and the flying game Airplane), Baseball is perhaps one of the most natural uses of the Wii's unique remote controller. And even if our hot streak didn't extend throughout the entire Baseball demo, we definitely like the possibilities we see for the future of Wii Sports games.

As in other Wii Sports games, the idea of Baseball was straightforward--you stood in the batter's box and took three straight pitches, holding and swinging the Wii remote as you would a regular Louisville Slugger, followed by a slightly more advanced series of 10 pitches, which seemed to vary in speed a bit more. The first three pitches were softballs, however, and we managed to knock all three out of the park with little effort. As you might expect, how early or late you swing will not only determine whether you make contact or not, but will determine in which direction the ball will go once you make contact. We must have been swinging early, because we pulled every pitch that came our way to left field and over the wall.

The next set of tosses from the pitcher had a bit more variation to them, especially in terms of speed. Because of that, we whiffed our first few tries. For each miss, the game gave us feedback on our performance--noting whether we had swung too early or late--and after a few more tries we once again found our stroke and were yanking balls out of the yard, this time to both sides of the field. Another cool detail: By turning the Wii remote in your hand, the virtual bat in your player's hand would follow the movements, which allowed us to do our best freaky Nomar warm-up routine. One thing that wasn't very clear from the demo was whether the vertical position of the Wii controller played into making contact or not. In other words, is it possible to swing over or under the ball and simply miss the ball, even if the timing of your swing is correct? At first glance, it didn't seem so, but perhaps a fuller version of the Baseball demo will incorporate that at a later date.

Considering how other Wii Sports games incorporated throwing (we're thinking specifically of Madden NFL 07), it's too bad the Baseball demo didn't show off some sort of pitching mechanism--we could definitely see using the Wii controller to make a variety of different pitches. And hey, how about using a scooping motion to field ground balls when on defense. The possibilities are tantalizing. Here's hoping that the final version of Wii Sports: Baseball will let you tackle all sides of the game, rather than focusing solely on the action at the plate. As more details are revealed on the Wii Sports suite of minigames, we'll keep you up to date, so stay tuned.

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