|Designer(s)||Keizo Ohta[*], Takayuki Shimamura[*], Yoshikazu Yamashita[*]|
Wii Sports (Wii スポーツ Wī Supōtsu?) is a sports game developed and published by Nintendo as a launch title for the Wii video game console. The game was first released in North America along with the Wii on November 19, 2006, and was released in Japan, Australia, and Europe the following month. It was included as a pack-in game with the Wii console in all territories except Japan and South Korea, making it the first game included with the launch of a Nintendo system since Mario's Tennis for the Virtual Boy in 1995. Wii Sports is now available on its own as part of the Nintendo Selects collection of games and is no longer a pack-in game for the Wii.
The game is a collection of five sports simulations, designed to demonstrate the motion-sensing capabilities of the Wii Remote to new players. The five sports included are tennis, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing. Players use the Wii Remote to mimic actions performed in real life sports, such as swinging a tennis racket. The rules for each game are simplified to make them more accessible to new players. The game also features training and fitness modes that monitor players' progress in the sports.
Overall, Wii Sports has been well received by critics and received awards from the gaming press and entertainment community. It is the third best-selling video game of all time, behind Tetris and Minecraft, and is the best-selling game of all time for a single platform as of April 2013, having outsold the previous best-seller, Super Mario Bros., also published by Nintendo. As of March 31, 2016, 82.78 million copies in total had been sold worldwide. Wii Sports has been featured on television in Wii commercials, news reports, and other programming. The game has become a popular means for social gatherings and competitions among players of varying ages. A sequel, Wii Sports Resort, was released in 2009, featuring Wii MotionPlus support, while a high-definition remake, Wii Sports Club, was released in 2013 for Wii U.
Wii Sports consists of five separate sports games—tennis, baseball, bowling, golf, and boxing—accessed from the main menu. The games use the motion sensor capabilities of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk attachment to control the actions of the on-screen ball pit. The player moves the remote in a similar manner to how the separate games are played in real life; for example, holding and swinging the Wii Remote like a golf club, baseball bat or bowling ball. Some aspects of the gameplay are computer controlled. In tennis, player movement is controlled by the Wii, while the swinging of the racket is controlled by the player. Baseball consists of batting and pitching, with all of the fielding and baserunning handled by the Wii.
The in-game characters are taken from the Wii's Mii Channel, which allows the user to create a Mii (a customized avatar) that can be imported into games that support the feature. Wii Sports is the first Wii title to use this feature. Miis saved on the Wii will appear in the crowd during bowling games and as members of human-controlled teams in baseball. The non-player characters in the game were also created using the Mii Channel toolset. Miis created on one Wii can be transferred onto the internal memory of a Wii Remote for use on another Wii with different save data.
After a game, a player is awarded or penalized skill points based on performance relative to the computer's skill level, though some games do not calculate points during multiplayer sessions. The game keeps track of these points by charting them on a graph, as well as increasing the size of the crowd in Tennis and Boxing single-player modes. After obtaining 1000 skill points in a sport, a player is awarded "pro" level, along with a cosmetic feature for their Mii in Bowling and Boxing. A Mii newly turned pro will receive a message on the Wii Message Board notifying them. Wii Sports also features a fitness test that calculates a player's fitness age (ranging from 20 to 80 years old, 20 being the best possible). The test gauges the player's performance in three randomly chosen challenges in each test from the training mode that have been played at least once, and can only be taken once a day per Mii. Calculating the fitness age takes into account a player's balance, speed, and stamina. Fitness age results are graphed over one, two, or three months, with daily results posted on the Wii Message Board.
Katsuya Eguchi, who managed Software Development Group 2 at Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development, produced Wii Sports. With the Wii, Nintendo desired to reach people who had not played video games before. To do this they needed software that allowed both long time and first time players to interact together in a fun way. Nintendo also wanted players to use the system daily and intended Wii Sports to be the console's flagship title to help accomplish this. Wii Sports was designed as a simple introductory line meant to offer something for both gamers and non-gamers. Sports were chosen as the theme because of the widespread familiarity with them. Rather than feature professional athletes or have realistic graphics, the game was designed to be simple so that anyone could play. Gameplay like running towards a ball in tennis was excluded to maintain simplicity. At one point in development, Mario characters were used, but were removed because of feedback from players who preferred Miis. The game supports a 16:9 widescreen ratio and progressive scan, runs at 60 frames per second, and makes use of the Wii Remote's accelerometer to interpret the player's motion. Motion-sensing actions, like pitching and hitting, were prioritized to make them as realistic as possible. Because Nintendo did not expect players to purchase the Wii solely to play Wii Sports, they bundled the game with the console; Nintendo believed players would be more likely to play Wii Sports through this distribution method. They also felt players that enjoyed the game would increase its popularity by word of mouth.
Before the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) Media and Business Summit of 2006, the first sport in the game was announced as Wii Sports: Tennis. It was later announced, at Nintendo's press conference prior to E3 2006, it would be part of a sports package. Satoru Iwata introduced this package as Wii Sports, and stated it would include tennis, golf, and baseball. The game was featured as both a video demonstration and an on-stage playable demo. The demo featured Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime in a doubles tennis match against Shigeru Miyamoto and Scott Dyer, a contest winner. The other sports titles were on display at E3 and shared a similar naming convention to the tennis game such as, Wii Sports: Baseball, Wii Sports: Golf, and Wii Sports: Airplane. At the time, baseball only featured a batting simulation. The airplane title was similar to Pilotwings and required the player to maneuver an airplane through rings within a time frame. It was not included in the final game, but was later incorporated into Wii Sports Resort. At the Nintendo World event on September 14, 2006, Reggie Fils-Aime announced that Wii Sports would be included free with the Wii. The bowling and boxing titles were also introduced.
Wii Sports was immensely successful commercially. At the end of 2007, it was the best-selling Wii game. In Japan, where the game was not included with the system, the game sold 176,167 copies in the first two days of release, a record for a seventh generation console game in Japan. By February 2007, it had sold over a million copies. In early May 2007, game-industry research firm Media Create placed Wii Sports third in their list of top-20 games in Japan. It was the best-selling game of 2007 in Japan with 1,911,520 copies sold. It was the tenth best-selling game in Japan in 2008, selling 841,736 copies in that year. The game sold 45.71 million copies—including bundled copies—worldwide by March 2009. By January 28, 2011, worldwide sales increased to 75.66 million, which has increased to 82.78 million as of March 31, 2016.
Wii Sports received mostly positive reviews from critics. It received a score of 76% on GameRankings and 76/100 on Metacritic. GameTrailers called it a good complement to the Wii system and referred to all five games as a "nice total package". They commented that the games provided enough gameplay for long time gamers without making it inaccessible to novices. GameTrailers stated, however, that the lack of a tournament mode was a detractor, and did not recommend paying for the game if it did not come bundled with the system. GamePro also commented that the free addition of Wii Sports with the Wii was a positive. Matt Casamassina of IGN called it a "successful showpiece for Nintendo's new hardware" and enjoyed the ability to import Miis. GameSpot editor Ryan Davis complimented the multiplayer aspect and the fitness test. Reviewers praised the game's controls and ease of use. Casamassina referred to the controls as "revolutionary" and described them as intuitive. GamePro echoed similar comments, praising the ease of play and realistic motion controls, while Davis commented that the motion controls were sometimes erratic. Common criticism focused on the graphics and lack of depth in the separate games. Casamassina stated that the game "comes up short in depth and visuals", and called the graphics "generic" and "archaic". Other reviewers said the graphics were on par with Nintendo's older gaming systems, the Nintendo GameCube and Nintendo 64. Davis criticized the oversimplified nature of the games, and GamePro stated that the separate games offered less depth than regular console sports games. Nintendo Power listed Wii Sports along with its sequel Wii Sports Resort as two of the greatest multi-player experiences in Nintendo's history, stating that everyone from young children to grandparents can enjoy the games. The magazine praised the grouping of sports and the game's longevity.
The separate games garnered their own reception among critics. Casamassina called bowling, tennis, and baseball "fun and addictive", while Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer said baseball, golf, and boxing were lacking in gameplay depth when compared to tennis and bowling. PC Magazine columnist John C. Dvorak, an avid bowler, praised the realistic physics used in bowling and stated, "Nintendo did a stupendous job of coding." He complimented the addition of physical activity to video gaming, but complained that long term use caused his wrist and shoulder to become sore. Casamassina ranked bowling as the best experience of the five. Before its release, IGN's Craig Harris commented on an exploit allowing easy strikes in the bowling game that removed the challenge and replay value. After the release, he stated that the exploit was not fixed. GameTrailers called golf the most in-depth, but criticized the lack of multiple courses and unpredictable controls when trying to slice or hook a shot. GamePro said golf offered the most content and was the best looking of all the games, but commented that its controls were the most difficult to use. GameTrailers called tennis the most accessible and easy to play, but criticized the difficulty of putting spin on a shot. Casamassina stated that tennis was one of the more enjoyable games, but the lack of movement control was a detractor. GameTrailers called baseball the most "worthless" because of the luck factor associated with the computer-controlled fielding. They called boxing the best workout on Wii Sports, but criticized the difficult timing needed to punch properly. Casamassina criticized boxing for being "like a chore" and ranked it as the worst experience of the five sports.
Wii Sports's debut at 2006 E3 garnered it several awards. At the event, it won the Game Critics Award for "Best Sports Game". 1UP.com listed it as the "Best Wii Game" and "Most Original Game" in their "Best of E3 2006" feature. Following its release, Wii Sports received multiple awards from various organizations, websites, and magazines. IGN awarded it "Best Sports Game of 2006" and second best game of 2006. Time magazine listed the game as the number one game of 2006 in their list of "Top 10 Video Games of 2006". Wii Sports won Famitsu's 2006 "Innovation Award". Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded it "Best Multiplayer Experience" in their 2006 "1Up Network Awards". At the 2007 Interactive Achievement Awards, Wii Sports won "Outstanding Achievement in Game Play Engineering", "Outstanding Achievement in Game Design", and "Outstanding Innovation in Gaming". In 2007, the game won the "Innovation Award" and "Best Game Design" at the Game Developers Choice Awards, and won "Grand Prize" in the entertainment division of the Japan Media Arts Festival. At the 2007 British Academy Video Games Awards, Wii Sports won six out of seven award nominations: Sports, Innovation, Gameplay, Multiplayer, Casual, and Strategy and Simulation. The New York Times named wii sports as the Game of the year, also The gaming website Gamasutra said that Wii sports was the most important game of 2006. In 2010, the game was included as one of the titles in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die.
Wii Sports, a major factor in the Wii's worldwide success, was the first release among a number of core Wii games being developed at the same time, with the same philosophy; others were released as Wii Play, Wii Fit, and Wii Music. A direct sequel to Wii Sports, titled Wii Sports Resort, was released in 2009. The game, along with Wii Fit, has been credited with attracting more casual, female, and elderly gamers. It has also been cited as a game that can provide a bonding experience among family members, and as a means of exercising and losing weight when played regularly. A study involving 13- to 15‑year-old teenagers was conducted by the Liverpool John Moores University and concluded that players used 2% more energy than by playing on other consoles. They stated that it was no substitute for playing a real sport, but could contribute to weight management. Wii Sports has been used to aid in the physical therapy of a boxer at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Canada, stroke victims in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Raleigh, North Carolina, and injured soldiers in Prescott, Arizona; Washington, D.C.; and Landstuhl, Germany. Wired included the game in its list of "The 15 Most Influential Games of the Decade" at #8, for its role in popularizing motion controls and having a major impact on the "videogame landscape."
After the Wii's release, players began incurring injuries while playing Wii Sports, among other games, when they accidentally hit other players or objects while swinging the Wii Remote. This string of accidents, and others related to players throwing the Wii Remote while playing Wii Sports, prompted Nintendo president Satoru Iwata to develop a campaign to reduce such incidents. In regard to the issue, Nintendo spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa commented, "People tended to get a bit excited, especially while playing Wii Sports, and in some cases the remote would come loose from their hands." Nintendo responded by offering replacement Wii Remote wrist straps that were almost twice as thick. Other injuries include muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries from excess playing of simulated sports on the Wii—dubbed "Wii-itis".
Wii Sports has become a popular means for social gatherings and competitions. Residents at senior centers and retirement homes have formed leagues using Wii Sports bowling. After its Australian release, Nintendo and Myer, an Australian department store chain, held a Wii Sports tennis tournament in January 2007 in Melbourne, Australia. The winners competed against professional tennis players Pat Cash and Mark Woodforde, and were awarded new Wiis. An unofficial Wii Sports tennis tournament titled "Wiimbledon" was held in the Brooklyn, New York bar Barcade on June 23, 2007. It featured 128 competitors, many of whom were dressed in costumes.
Wii Sports has been featured on television multiple times. The game was featured in commercials for the Wii system, and in news features on ABC and NBC. The game has appeared on various comedy shows. An episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien featured host Conan O'Brien competing against his guest, tennis star Serena Williams, in a match of Wii Sports tennis. On an episode of the Rick Mercer Report, former Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien beat Rick Mercer in a game of Wii Sports boxing. The boxing game also appeared on an episode of The Colbert Report where a clip featured Mii versions of Stephen Colbert and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi boxing. At the 80th Academy Awards Show, host Jon Stewart and Jamia Simone Nash were caught playing Wii Sports tennis on one of the event's gigantic projection screens after a commercial break as part of a joke. Wii Sports has also been featured in mainstream movies such as Tropic Thunder and in commercials for products such as Kellogg's Smart Start.
Wii Sports Resort
A sequel, Wii Sports Resort, was first revealed at Nintendo's E3 2008 presentation. Development moved forward after the extent of the Wii MotionPlus was realized, though the idea for a sequel existed sooner. The game was released in Japan on June 25, 2009 before releasing in other markets in July 2009.
Wii Sports Club
On September 18, 2013, Nintendo announced Wii Sports Club for the Wii U Nintendo eShop. The game features the five games of Wii Sports remade in high-definition graphics, with support for the Wii MotionPlus (similar to Wii Sports Resort) and online multiplayer. The game uses a 'Club' system, in which players are registered to regional or national clubs, communicating with each other via Miiverse, and compete against other clubs for rankings. After a 24-hour free trial period, players can purchase a day pass to access all of the games, or purchase full access to the individual games. Tennis and Bowling was released on November 7, 2013, with the other games to follow at later dates.
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As it comes free with every Wii console outside Japan, I'm not quite sure if calling it "World Number One" is exactly the right way to describe it, but in any case it's surpassed the record set by Super Mario Bros., which was unbroken for over twenty years.
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