Posted by murraychu on 7th August 2009
One of the biggest complaints about the Nintendo Wii, for core players at least, is the software. Specifically, the amount of “shovelware”, which is basically games that required little to no development time and is released onto the market with quiet fanfare. The vast majority of these shovelware games have been mini-game compilations. Ever since the Wii came out, with its free copy of Wii Sports and motion technology, it has been the target of games that are nothing but a small collection of mini-games.
Core gamers complain because these games lack substance, there is no story, nothing ground-breaking, and no endurance. It is hard to pick up a mini-game compilation and do a marathon gaming session. It is like eating a bag of nuts when you are craving steak.
That said, mini-games do fairly well. They are cheap to make, especially in comparison to the multi-million development cost of anticipated titles, and they sell relatively well to casual gamers. Casual gamers greatly outnumber the core gamers on the market, and mini-game compilations, which sell at a relatively cheap price, tend to make profit. This encourages developers to continue pushing out more of these games. Hence, shovelware.
This week I reviewed Go Play! Lumberjacks. I also had a copy of Go Play! Circus Stars. Like almost all mini-game compilations on the Wii, these two games focused on making the most of the motion sensing technology available to them. This worked relatively well for Lumberjacks as it simply used the swinging motion of the controller as a binary input. Either you are swinging the Wiimote or you are not. In this way, the swing acts just like a regular button push, but the controller gets a bit more interaction and immersion from it. It also featured control setting for the Balance Board, but that got a bit complicated and I definitely do not recommend using it for the game.
Circus Stars, on the other hand, used motion controllers that the Wiimote is notoriously poor at detecting. Tilt, thrust, and other movements simply are not picked up consistently with the Nintendo controller and, as a result, the game earns poor marks in my book.
I also grabbed Wii Sport Resort this week, but someone else reviewed it for KidzWorld. The Wii Motion Plus accessories, which is included with the game, greatly improves the motion detection. The swordplay game is essentially 1:1 and is my favourite game. I’ve been grinding it out on only a handful of games in Wii Sport Resort this week, I still haven’t touched most of the others yet, meaning this game has some staying power and replayability. I am interested in seeing what mini-games third party shovelware developers will push out for this new accessory.