Keeping it Casual — Wii Play: Motion and Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident

Geek Culture

Wii Play: Motion Wii Play: Motion

Wii Play: Motion cover image

With 3DS titles like Ocarina of Time and Super Street Fighter IV still dominating my play time, I seem to have forgotten that Nintendo’s current generation console has a far more casual slant. A pair of recent Wii releases, however, have managed to remind me that I don’t need hadoukens and hookshots to while away my gaming hours.

Wii Play: Motion is a party game pack-in that comes bundled with the new(ish) Wii Remote Plus controller. This means that it is both an analog of lackluster original Remote Plus showcase title FlingSmash and a proper sequel to the also rather uninspired original Wii-mote pack-in Wii Play. Thankfully Wii Play: Motion fares far better than both its predecessors.

While from a distance it appears to be just another hodgepodge mini-game collection, the difference between Wii Play: Motion and its more pedestrian kin is that the title manages to offer a handful of truly addictive gaming experiences. Relying heavily on the enduring charm of your own Mii avatars, Wii Plus: Motion boasts mini-games of varying quality with a couple of outright winners.

Whack-a-Mole clone Veggie Guardian, shooter Trigger Twist and diving game Treasure Twirl work almost intuitively with the 1:1 movement of the Wii Remote Plus. Moreover, they are enjoyable enough on their own to make up for occasional missteps like aerial obstacle course Flutter Fly and the snooze-worthy Teeter Targets. The title’s top-shelf games, however, have truly kept me coming back for weeks.

Spooky Search screen shotSpooky Search screen shot

Who you gonna call?

Spooky Search plays like Ghostbusters (or Luigi’s Mansion, if you will) with players using Wii-motes to locate and capture ghosts in real space directed by cues from on-screen Miis. Cone Zone, a super simple activity in which you attempt to keep a growing stack of ice cream scoops from tipping over, is equally engaging in its simplicity. Like the best offerings from the recently revamped Wii Party series, there’s an odd sort of competitiveness engendered by these games, and, whether you’re looking to embarrass a real world opponent or just to beat your high score, these mini-games really have legs.

Retailing for $49.99, Wii Play: Motion only costs $10 more than the Wii Remote Plus alone, but unlike FlingSmash you’re apt to actually enjoy this title. More games and modes unlock as you play, so there’s definitely some content here, but it’s a bit hard to recommend outright unless you just happen to need an additional Remote Plus.

Another fine slice of casual gaming comes to your Wii courtesy of the Big Fish Games’ Mystery Case Files series. Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident is a Nintendo-published puzzle adventure title that brings the hidden objects game to your living room flat screen.

Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave IncidentMystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident

Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident cover image

Much like 2008′s fantastic DS outing Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir, The Malgrave Incident manages to combine the simple mechanic of searching for hidden items across a cluttered screen within the greater framework of unraveling an in-game mystery. Admittedly the writing ain’t exactly groundbreaking, but there’s a nice film noir twist to the narrative that helps mask the cheesiness.

Mystery Case Files: The Malgrave Incident ties together the search for disparate ephemera across a mysterious island through a series of voice messages from the eccentric Winston Malgrave. These prompt the player forward as he traverses each of the island’s search activities. Along the way the occasional environmental puzzle is encountered that can only be solved by – you guessed it – discovering the correct hidden item.

These add a bit of a Myst feel to the title, and, with a plot centered on collecting the island’s magical dust to save the ailing Sara Malgrave, it genuinely aspires to point-and-click greatness. Sadly, it falls just short.

Though the controls, which largely consist of pointing the Wii-mote and pushing the A button to select found objects while using the D-pad to zoom in/out, work well enough, the game suffers from muddy visuals. The Wii isn’t exactly a graphical powerhouse, so the game looked grainy and indistinct on my 42″ LCD. Add to this moving parts within most picture-puzzles and you’ve got a recipe for frustration. Admittedly, there is a hint system in place that can give you an idea of the location of a certain item, but when the rusty nail is located inside a shoe box behind a precariously swinging bird cage… well, you get the idea.

The Malgrave Incident walks a fine line between “fun enough to hold your attention” and “obtuse enough to be frustrating,” but in the end there’s a certain charm that’s just pervasive enough to keep Wii gamers interested. Budget priced at 30 bucks, it’s a hard to resist gather-’round-the-TV family puzzle game experience.

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