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Wii Sports

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One game console seems pretty much like another, and if the prospect of huddling in a darkened living room bludgeoning phosphor aliens all afternoon touches you with the sort of dread hitherto reserved for children’s birthday parties and small fuel-efficient cars, you’d probably resolve the issue by ignoring the lot of them.

The Wii game console, by Nintendo, is different… or at least, it can be. While it has access to a huge library of mindless violence, CGI monsters and bad driving, it comes with a DVD of games which is none of these things. Wii is intended to be played socially.

The Wii Sports game collection that’s packaged with the most popular configuration of Wii consists of a suite of traditional leisure games – golf, bowling, tennis and such – all designed to be played by multiple people. None of them involve killing anything… I believe a baseball bat is the only potentially deadly weapon available, and it can only be used in accordance with its manufacturer’s specifications, to wit, to hit baseballs.

I can’t help regarding golf as one of the most lamentable wastes of time and grass yet devised by higher life forms, but Wii golf is enjoyably removed from a foursome of dentists with titanium clubs. It features nine holes of remarkably convincing golf with sprawling fairways, treacherous winds… and pendulous cliffs below which lies a ball-swilling ocean for the unwary. We usually play it with a crackling fire on the hearth and a box of cookies.

As with all the adventures of Wii sports, the golf game is played through Wii’s uniquely flexible hand controllers. Held like a golf club, it behaves like a golf club, with a considerable degree of nuance.

Wii golf is remarkable in its ability not to grow boring. Played frequently, it allows its combatants to improve their games, learn the course and stun a few birdies and eagles. It’s well removed from blasting the same drooling monsters every night.

Wii bowling is equally entertaining. The Wii hand controller is made to pretend to be a bowling ball in this outing. It can be played with considerable skill… refinements such as ball spin are well within the scope of the game, although I’ve rarely managed to get it to spin where I wanted it. The pin simulation is cool.

In a real sense, Wii is a game console for gown-ups…perhaps semi-grown-ups. It can support up to four players in most of its games. You can spend all evening playing it without coming away feeling like you’re wearing over-large jeans and a backward baseball cap. The games have no cheat codes, secret screens or undocumented levels… kids’ll just hate them.

A DVD with some additional golf courses wouldn’t go amiss by now.

As an aside, Wii Sports comes with one hand controller – you’ll unquestionably want at least one more. We’ve bought several, one of which came packaged with an additional DVD of games called Wii Play. Despite its superficial similarity to the Wii Sports disc, Wii Play was a bit of a disappointment. Few of the games therein are particularly playable, and you’ll have to work your way through the lemons to reach those that are worth the effort.

As another aside, Wii consoles seem to be a bit hard to find as of this writing – an informal review of the larger on-line retailers saw them universally sold out. You can track them down in smaller venues. We found ours in the electronics section of a local supermarket. You might want to regard the process of tracking one down as game, save that it’s played in the real world.