The phenomenal success of the original Wii console can largely be attributed to the decision to include Wii Sports with every console for free. News stories about retirement homes holding Wii Sports bowling nights were a common site, and with each one, Nintendo sold another thousands Wiis. The Wii U tried to rekindle this magic by including Nintendo Land with the Deluxe unit, but while it was a decent enough game, it never held a candle to the original Wii Sports. Now Nintendo has ported some of the original Wii Sports games over to the Wii U in the form of Wii Sports Club. Does this release ignite the fire that Nintendo Land failed to?
First up on the Wii Sports Club release schedule is Bowling. Not much has changed inside of the local game, aside from Wii Motion Plus support. The visuals are slightly improved and are running at HD levels without upscaling. What has been added is online play, training mini-games, and location-based clubs. Online play functions surprisingly well for a Nintendo game. Finding a game can be a bit hit or miss, as it seems to either find one immediately or glitch out entirely. Most searches were successful, but the system does need some improvements. While you wait to get matched up you can actually throw some balls, which is a great feature that more games should use. Tapping a button on the D-pad allows you to send simple messages to your rivals, which can be enjoyable or annoying depending on who you are playing against. A couple of games resulted in constant messages and beeps from the other player spamming their messages the whole time.
The clubs, which are based on your home state, add some fun to the mix by making things more competitive. Playing against your current “rival club” can add some tension to a match if you feel more of a connection to your club. You can also see how you are ranked on the high score board for all players or just the ones in your club.
The three training mini-games are where I had most of my fun with Wii Sports Club Bowling, which does echo back to my time with the original game. Spare Pickups, Tricky Pins, and 100-Pin Pro were all really fun to play alone and with friends. Unfortunately, the training games from the original Wii Sports were not ported over along with the base game. While the three new modes were fun, there was likely nothing preventing Nintendo from bringing the originals along for the HD ride. Still, what has been included is very fun and gives Wii Sports Club Bowling a bit of purpose thanks to the medals you can win for getting different scores.
Wii Sports Club Bowling is still the same classic game that made the original so much of a smash hit. The inclusion of Wii Motion Plus adds to the mix, especially if you didn’t experience that in the Wii Sports Resort version. Online play is really the main star of this release. If that is something that you think would improve your Wii Sports experience, then it might be worth the high price of $9.99. If that isn’t really something you’ve wanted and you still have your original Wii Sports disk laying around, then you might want to skip Wii Sports Club Bowling until it goes on sale.