Published on January 18th, 2014 | by Darren Bolton

Nintendo! Hey, Listen! – Wii Sports Club

Nintendo listen BannerHey Listen is a new series of articles we will be posting, discussing the topics we feel Nintendo need to address. As we all know the Wii U has had an absolutely terrible start all over the world, there are many reasons for that, MANY; but let’s not just focus on why things are so bad for the Wii U, let’s be positive, let’s look at ways Nintendo can turn this around.

Personally, matching N64 sales will be a decent outcome for the Wii U at this stage. I am confident the Wii U will be a fantastic console; really, how important are sales of the Gamecube when we think about all the fantastic games on it? Already the Wii U is home to excellent games, and a backs-to-the-wall Nintendo will undoubtedly turn it on and provide some incredible titles over the coming years. What we feel is important, is setting itself up to be better prepared for the future; Nintendo’s inability to not only future proof its consoles and services, but even to just adapt to the times, is the biggest reason we feel they are struggling to connect to the wider gaming community.

Although we have more meaty articles coming up, we want to focus our first piece on Wii Sports Club, a piece of software which exemplifies most things that are wrong with Nintendo. With it being in the middle (or hopefully the beginning) of its release schedule, maybe there’s something that can be done about it…

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Wii Sports single handedly sold the Wii to tens of millions of gamers and, crucially last generation, non-gamers. It’s officially the best selling game of all time, and also part of the concept video showcasing the Wii U – the golf swing over the gamepad which showed the ball in the rough, catching the baseball by moving the gamepad around; it looked exciting, but it disappeared very quickly.

That was until just a few months ago when they announced they would be releasing Wii Sports Club – a HD, Wii U enhanced port of the original 5 sport game. Starting with tennis and bowling, with the rest following in the subsequent months. We were excited, if a little wary, of a wii sports with online and motion plus controls. It came, and we were crushingly disappointed. No sales have been released, but I have no doubt they will be poor; looking at the software, I genuinely feel it is one of the worst pieces of software nintendo have released.

The games are fun to play, that isn’t the problem; the training modes are fun on your own, local multiplayer is as a good as ever and online, once you are in a game, again is great fun. But pretty much every feature of the game comes up painfully short.

OPTIONS

This is a problem I have with Nintendo across the board, but it’s particularly frustrating here. In tennis you can only play best of 1, 3 or 5 games in local player, and online the first to 7 points (not even proper tennis scoring). Why can’t we decide exactly how much we want to play? It plays great, I would absolutely love to have epic 5 set matches with people online, it would be amazing. Have your quick match option if you want Nintendo, but allow us to customise our games, at least in friends matches. You ruined Mario Tennis 3DS with the same thing, it makes the competitive aspect of the multiplayer so throwaway, like a single bout in Street Fighter, when sport offers a much grander platform to work with, but you completely abandon it. Having the ability to have knock out tournaments or leagues seem a world away when the options are so barebones.

PRICE

You can rent the sports, nice idea, it works great in Karaoke; they’re a little over priced but the option is nice for families or people who just want to play occasionally with friends. But £8.99 to buy each individual sport is plain disgusting. That would make the whole package £45, for what is incredibly basic. If the game was cheap it would make the software much more understandable, but this is a hell of a lot of money for what they are offering. £4.99 is the perfect price for these games, instead these are extremely over-priced which will put many people off, particularly when they’re not good enough.

ONLINE

This is the big push with this release, the online, and what an absolutely inept execution of online in a sports game this is. In its favour, getting a game in any of the sports in worldwide is incredibly quick; but everything else is awful.

With the Wii U’s  lack of game invite or decent messaging system, getting a game with friends is excruciating, I was tempted to show a message feed on a forum I had with people trying to get a game of bowling between us; it was embarrassing. We’ll look at how to rectify this on a system-wide level in an up-coming article, but for Wii Sports we should be able to set up a room for people to join, you can sort of do that, but there’s no room to manoeuvre with regards to time and waiting, meaning you often start before your friends have joined; nintendo should allow us to wait for as long as we want for people, it’s our friends, let us decide when we want to start playing. And people should be able to join and watch mid-game so they are ready for the next one; with the lack of voice chat and inept messaging system, it’s almost impossible to tell people to join in at the right time.

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The “club” aspect, so important it named the game after it, is also utterly pointless. You join a club based on where you live and are part of a league of sorts, sounds okay, but in execution it just doesn’t offer anything. If we could have a league for our friends – great. If we could set up our own clubs – great. But as it is it’s mildly fun. The playing your rival mode doesn’t work because not enough people have the game, so you can never find a game. It just doesn’t work.

One of the worst aspects though is how it handles people playing online from one device. In Tennis you can only play singles or 4-player doubles, meaning you both have to have two human players. Would it have been that difficult for one person to be able to play against two people like it handles it in local play? Even worse is bowling and golf, you can only play single player online play. This is truly baffling. How you can’t have 2 or 3 people on one console play online has ruined a lot of opportunities I would normally have with my friends and family, and I’m sure the same applies to most people. And why is it limited to 4 player? Especially locally? Why can’t we have an 8 player bowling game?

With such fundamental things missing, it feels silly to talk of no voice-chat. Only with Nintendo does voice-chat feel like an extreme feature to desire.

PATCH IT!

Wii Sports Club really could be a fantastic title for the WIi U, and a popular one; which they need it to be. Anecdotally it may be, but my friends, family and the forums I go on all show the same apathy towards the title for these reasons, and a simple twitter search shows this is a problem world wide for Nintendo. Fix it, and it could still be a big hit. Here is a Top 10 of all the things we feel Nintendo should try and patch:

1. Allow for more than one local player to play online

2. Allow us to wait in our friends’ rooms for as long as we want as we wait for friends

3. Have more than 4 players on bowling, especially locally

4. Let us decide how many games and sets to play in tennis (and with proper tennis scoring)

5. Allow the ability to join in a game from the friends list (like Mario Kart 7)

6. Let us REPLAY a match online with randoms, don’t force us to quit each time. It’s infuriating to find a good player only to lose them after one game.

7. When playing bowling online and the other quits/disconnect. END THE GAME. We’re playing online because we don’t want to play on our own. And punish people for quitting.

8. Communication – Add voice chat for friends games and allow for more custom sayings on the gamepad

9. Sort the cumbersome UI. It goes back to Main Menu after kicking out of everything? Let us go to the online sub menu or training mode select etc

10. Improve the presentation – in golf, FOLLOW THE BALL, I want to see where the ball goes and how it moves, not watch it fly off in the distance. In tennis, why are we playing on empty council-style tennis courts? It would be much more fun playing in packed stadia

Other things you should do, but never will
– Have the ability to save best shots in all sports and share them on Miiverse and social networks
– Set up custom tournaments with custom rules
– Bring the price down to £5 each or give us the 5th sport free

How do you feel about Wii Sports Club? What changes do you think Nintendo should make?

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