The original Wii made a splash with its Wii Sports launch title. Nintendo Land is looking to do the same for Wii U, but if you’re looking for something a little more sporty, you may want to check out ESPN Sports Connection. It features six sports mini-games that use the Wii U touch pad and motion plus controllers. You’ve got baseball, soccer, football, tennis, golf, and go-kart racing at the big park.
One thing to note is that you absolutely MUST have a Wii Motion Plus remote controller or attachment to play any of the games on this collection. So don’t even think about getting this game until you have at least one. Multiple players (up to four) will need one, too. Each player can design their own in-game avatar with colors and decals, as well as earn in-game achievements through Ubisoft’s U-Play. So let’s take a look at each of the sports and how you control them.
This is one of the more standard events. If you’ve ever played Mario Kart Wii, you’ll know what to do here. Tilt the Wii U game pad or Wii controller to steer, or you can select to drive with the analog pad, which is easier. The other buttons accelerate, brake, and boost. Only problem is the tracks you race on are a bit drab.
If you’re using the Wii U game pad, you’ll draw lines on the touch screen to serve and lob your balls in different directions. If you are using the remote, you’ll swing it just like the tennis game in Wii Sports. You can do singles, doubles, or a cannonball mode.
Aside from defending your goal, this soccer game doesn’t even utilize the Wii U gamepad features hardly at all. You just hold the gamepad or remotes like standard controllers to pass, shoot, dribble, and run.
Aside from viewing the hole from a top down view and setting up shots, this game of golf only uses the Wii Motion Plus remotes to swing. Framerate’s a bit choppy, but otherwise it’s a decent diversion.
Batting is just like other Wii baseball games: swing the remote to hit the ball. But pitching and fielding use the Wii U game pad in some unique ways. To pitch, just draw a line on the touch screen from the ball to the hitbox to throw curveballs and straight tosses. Catching balls in the outfield is especially unique. You must tilt the game pad around and line up a glove on the mini-screen to catch the ball as it comes your way. They simplified the rules a bit, so you’re not responsible for things like base running, but otherwise it’s one of the better games on here.
Just like the baseball game, they simplified the rules in this football mini-game, and dumped basic fundamentals entirely. Such as returning to a first down after a ten yard run. Use the touch screen to select your plays, and draw on the screen, Madden announcer style, to make your defense run and try to block the offense. When you have the ball, line up the remote on the target to hike, and make a passing motion with the remote when another player is open. When it’s time to tackle or dodge, try and guess which way your opponent will go, and press the D-pad in the opposite direction. But it’s pretty hard to guess. Same with picking plays, but since this is mostly a passing game, selecting plays with longer passing runs works best, I found. The football game is a unique ideea, but also a little weird and hard to understand at first.
Reading skill is helpful for the text instructions, but younger armchair athletes should appreciate the simpler rules and mechanics of each sport. But don’t count on it to teach them the real rules and fundamentals of each sport in real life. Multiple difficulty levels help players of all skill levels to enjoy the game. ESPN Sports Connection is rated E for Everyone.