When it comes to console launch titles, Nintendo has a pretty solid track record. The N64, for example, launched with Mario 64, one of the most revolutionary 3D titles of all time, and the original Game Boy hit shelves in 1989 along with a little-known puzzle game called Tetris. Another game-changer that falls into this category is Wii Sports, which launched alongside the Wii back in 2006. This collection of mini-games showcased Nintendo's vision for the Wii, and it was accessible enough to get even the most passive of gamers hooked.
With it demanding players to get on their feet and rapidly flail their arms in the air, Wii Sports also helped to change social attitudes on video games. Gaming was no longer viewed as a lazy and inactive hobby, and it took on a new identity as a viable way to lose weight. Wii Sports essentially helped kickstart the gaming fitness trend, which perhaps peaked with the launch of Wii Fit in 2008. Just looking at the Nintendo eShop now, many similar titles are still knocking around, with Ring Fit Adventure being a popular example.
Sadly, growing up, I never personally owned a Wii or a copy of Wii Sports (I ended up getting one almost a decade later). Still, I was unable to ignore its presence within friends' houses during the late 2000s. The game just had this magical ability to entice anybody to want to play even if they hadn't held a controller in their life. This was mainly due to the top-notch motion controls; it was simple to flick your wrist as though you were swinging a golf club or throwing a bowling ball, and there was a great sense of precision.
The selection of sports bundled in was admittedly a little modest with their being only five (golf, tennis, bowling, boxing, and baseball), but none of these felt like filler. Golf is perhaps the most strategically rich, as you need to consider your choice of club and account for factors such as wind speed and direction. If you are feeling extra sneaky and brave, there are also shortcuts you can take on some holes and these have the potential to set you up for a comeback. I can't tell you how many hours I've lost to golf over the years, but it still manages to keep me on the edge of my seat, whilst seeming deceptively simplistic.
Bowling, I adore for the exact opposite reasoning to golf, as it's purely just some mindless fun. Launching your Wii remote forward and watching the pins fly is addictive, and few things feel as satisfying in gaming as bagging yourself a strike. Bowling is, however, where the majority of my Wii Sports-related accidents occurred. During one particularly heated match, I flung my arm towards the TV screen and was unexpectedly knocked from behind. This sent my Wii remote crashing into the motion sensor on my TV, and needlessly to say, I needed a replacement. Luckily, though, it wasn't a new TV I was after.
When thinking back to Wii Sports, something else that pops into my mind are Miis. Sure, these weren't created specifically for the game, but Wii Sports is one of the earliest titles they appeared in, and they have an undeniable stamp on its identity. Watching a poorly assembled version of me take part in these multiple sports certainly had a comedic factor, and I spent as much time shaping my character as I did in The Sims. Following Wii Sports, we've seen custom Miis appear in many titles like Miitopia, Wii Party, and Go Vacation.
Before I wrap up, I need to stress my absolute disappointment with Nintendo for not creating a Switch version. Remakes and remasters have largely populated the line-up of first-party content on the hybrid system, and it just seems to make sense to resurrect the Wii's best-selling game. Sure, we did receive two sequels - Wii Sports Resort in 2009 and Wii Sports Club in 2014 - but these lacked the wonderful simplicity and rock-solid selection of games seen in the original. With Nintendo bringing back dormant franchises like Big Brain Academy and WarioWare, though, I'm still holding out some hope.