Do-do-do do do do doo: it’s been 15 years since Christmas living rooms were dominated by Wii Sports.
Over the years of receiving video game consoles as presents, there comes a point in the day where most people in the house want to have a go, if not just watch for a bit. To generalise, a grandparent will probably spectate with a vacant, ‘That looks great, son’ and a dad will inevitably get stuck in for a FIFA face-off or another excuse they’ll conjure to have a shot.
In my lifetime, there has never been a piece of technology that’s roped more people in than the Wii. It’s probably the most unifying console of all time, and many a gauntlet was thrown down on Christmas Day, 2006, when Wii Sports was fully unleashed onto families and friends.
The Wii slotted into the festive marketplace in a sweet spot. The PlayStation 3 was upon us, but it didn’t reach Europe until March the following year, and its price felt unattainable for many (its cheapest model was a sphincter-pinching £425, and it went on to become a shared present for my brother and me in 2007).
Nintendo’s console, boasting then-innovative motion sensor controls and the company’s signature IP, was far more affordable at just £179. Then, there was the real kicker: Wii Sports came bundled with the console. It’s still its best-selling game, having sold 82.9 million copies.
It didn’t boast the same graphical oomph of the PS3 or even the Xbox 360, and it was strikingly simple even then, packed with five sports: bowling, tennis, golf, baseball and boxing. The highest compliment I can pay is that its gameplay still holds up after all this time.
Last Christmas, as the UK found itself in another lockdown, I played so much Wii Sports with my girlfriend and her family (we competed for scratch cards). It was a cathartic nostalgia trip, but also remained really, really fun. Bowling is smooth and satisfying; golf is fiendishly difficult with a Dark Souls ‘it’s always your fault’ quality; and tennis never fails to get the blood (and sweat) pumping.
And, circling back to its universality, it’s genuinely for everyone – with the exception of boxing’s rapid fisticuffs with the nunchuks. The controls are simple, and the motions to bowl, drive and pitch don’t require much in the way of hand-eye coordination or dexterity. Your youngest could have a pop at just about anything, and your elderly relative could swing from their seat.
This Christmas, I’ll be revisiting Wii Sports in all its glory once more. Then, now and always, ‘Do-do-do do do do doo.’
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