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E3 09: Does the Wii MotionPlus live up to its promises?

5:52 PM on 06.04.2009 // Anthony Burch

Quite by accident, I ended up playing more Wii MotionPlus-controlled games on the E3 showfloor than any other Destructoid editor.

Spending time with the UbiSoft developed Red Steel 2, Grand Slam Tennis by EA, and the obviously Nintendo-made Wii Sports Resort, I experienced three very different implementations of the MotionPlus peripheral, with three very different results.

What does the Wii MotionPlus feels like?  Does it truly replicate one-to-one motion? With the MotionPlus in hand, does the Wii finally do what it promised it would several years ago?

Hit the jump to find out.

I initially and, quite ignorantly assumed that the MotionPlus functioned pretty much the same all the time, regardless of what game it might be implemented into. I mean, one-to-one recognition is one-to-one recognition, right?

Not quite, as it turns out.

Red Steel 2

The first thing I noticed about swinging the MotionPlus around is that there's a noticeable delay between moving the Wiimote and seeing tht movement replicated onscreen. I'd swing the Wiimote as hard as I could and then, about a half-second after I stopped my arm, the swing would commence onscreen.

As I said in my hands-on with the game, I still felt like button presses had been switched out for specific waggles (as was the case with the first Red Steel). The only real difference was that the game could now distinguish between "weak" slashes and "strong" ones -- and even then, it couldn't distinguish between the two particularly well.

If I hadn't been told before picking up the Wiimote,  I literally would not have known that Red Steel 2 utilized the MotionPlus.

 

Grand Slam Tennis

My and Davis's impressions are forthcoming, but for now I can say that while Grand Slam Tennis is light years beyond the purely timing-based controls of Wii Sports Tennis, it doesn't necessarily allow 100% of the possible gestures you could make in a tennis game.

Rather than relying on the player's own hand movements to define lobs and drop shots, those are activated with the A and B buttons, respectively. While the force with which you hit the ball seems to make a difference, I wasn't able to, like, intentionally angle shots out of bounds or treat the racket like a real racket. The game doens't allow you to make stupid shots, for the most part; when I should have angled a ball to the left to keep it in play and I instead angled it as far right as I possibly could, it would just go straight. If I tried to angle it so far left that it would go out of bounds, it wouldn't. The angles of your swings matter in that you can actually miss the ball if you swing left when you should have swung right, but you can't make the ball go literally anywhere on the court you want it to go.

Still, your input matters way more than it did in Wii Sports tennis, while still remaining pretty intuitive. The delay is still there, but much less obvious than in Red Steel 2.

 

Wii Sports Resort (fencing)

Once again, you'll be able to see how Ashley Davis and myself felt about the next Wii Sports game pretty soon. As for now, I can say without a doubt that Wii Sports Resort's fencing minigame was the most pleasing use of the MotionPlus I saw throughout all of E3. The delay between moving my arm and seeing my sword move onscreen felt almost nonexistent after a few minutes. Even though Davis and I initially just wailed madly on one another, the blocking and striking mechanics were much tighter than I expected, after playing Red Steel 2

You have to hold a button to tell the game that you're blocking, but once you do it's not just an automatic thing that will prevent all attacks no matter what; you've gotta block vertically to parry a horizontal slash, and vice versa. You've also gotta block the specific part of your body the enemy is targeting: if you try to make a really low horizontal block and your enemy tries to slash down on your head from above, they'll still connect. This was, again, not the case in the other MotionPlus swordfighting game I played.

Moreso than any of the other two MotionPlus games I experienced, the Wii Sports Resort fencing felt like it might actually live up to the promises made by the MotionPlus -- and, by extension, the promises Nintendo made about the Wiimote control system in the first place. I'd have to spend way more time with it to be absolutely sure, but Resort managed to make me pretty damn optimistic about the future of the MotionPlus.

Presuming the right people are programming for it.




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