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Video games: Wii MotionPlus

Snaps onto Wiimote and creates a one-on-one correspondence between your actions and those onscreen

Posted: June 18, 2009 3:58 p.m.
Updated: June 19, 2009 6:03 a.m.

Nintendo's Wii MotionPlus controller snaps onto the Wiimotion and allows your avatar to duplicate your motions much more accurately than before.

 
The Wiimote - the motion-sensing wand that controls the action on Nintendo's Wii - serves many purposes. It doubles as a sword, a gun, a racket, a steering wheel or whatever else a game designer might dream up.

What it doesn't do is mimic any of those devices accurately. So if you were expecting the Wii to provide a realistic simulacrum of, say, a golf swing, you were disappointed. Yes, you had to wave the Wiimote around to get your on-screen avatar to act, but only rarely would your character duplicate your reality-based flailing.

Nintendo promises to fix that with the Wii MotionPlus, a $25 attachment that snaps onto one end of the wand. It's supposed to create a true one-to-one correspondence between your actions and those onscreen - something we had expected the Wii to do when Nintendo introduced it three years ago.

The MotionPlus is in stores now, as are the first games to take advantage of the technology. Two of the titles come from Electronic Arts Inc.'s reliable EA Sports label, and they wisely involve sports that require a lot of swinging: "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10" ($49.99; $59.99 with MotionPlus) and "Grand Slam Tennis" ($49.99).

EA's Tiburon studio made great strides last year with the Wii version of the "Tiger" golf franchise, delivering an experience that gave your arms a real workout. The addition of MotionPlus brings finesse to an already solid swing mechanic. You can adjust Tiger's backswing in minute increments, and add fade or draw by twisting the club.

The increased accuracy is more obvious once you reach the green. The new "precision putting" technique gauges the speed of your forward swing as well as the length of your backswing. It takes awhile to get used to the subtlety, so be prepared to overshoot most holes at first.

Duffers and hardcore players alike will appreciate all the other new features in "Tiger 10," including seven fresh courses, a few new golfers and online tournaments. There's also a wide variety of lighthearted party games, including a version of disc golf that could have been a standalone release. Four stars out of four.

"Grand Slam Tennis" isn't quite as assured, but as the initial entry in a potential series, it's pretty solid. If you're used to the tennis in "Wii Sports," be warned: this is much less forgiving. It's very easy to overswing, and at first you'll hit a lot of balls out of bounds.

But once you settle down, you'll be impressed by the way MotionPlus lets you locate your shots, or add slice or topspin. Serving doesn't feel as natural, though, so you won't be firing off aces like Roger Federer. And you need to rely on the computer - or use the Wii nunchuck - to get into position, which makes it a little less immersive.

EA's tennis offering has a fresh, cartoony look, an impressive roster of stars young and old, and all four Grand Slam tournament sites. It's not as full-featured as competing games, but it will give you a workout.

On the Net: www.nintendo.com/wii
http://tigerwoodspgatour.easports.com/wii.action
www.ea.com/games/grand-slam-tennis

Three stars out of four.

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