Top Spin 3 for Wii fails to meet expectations

I’ll be honest here - I’m not a console gamer normally. I play a lot of Wii Fit, which is hardly a game, and some occasional Super Mario Galaxy. I own an Xbox and a PS2, so I am not on the cutting edge of anything console gaming.

When I got my Wii, I was very excited about the idea of a tennis game. Wii Tennis (packaged in Wii Sports) was okay for a concept, but had no real gameplay. When I saw that Top Spin 3 was coming out, I was probably the only person on the planet to pre-order it. Well, today it arrived, and I was excited - I had the game out of the box almost immediately. I took a quick glance through the manual, but decided to start learning by playing.

There are three possible play modes on the Wii: Exhibitions, Road to Glory, and Party Games - all require the Wiimote and Nunchuk. I stuck with Exhibitions, because it is the easiest way to start playing right away. I started selecting players (Blake versus some guy I’ve never heard of before), a venue (Paris), and got to work.

Or so I tried. The Wiimote is used to execute a serve, requiring you to raise it to get the ball in the air. My Wiimote was detected about 10% of the time, so Blake sat there dumbly until some bit of magic finally got it to work and a meter would appear to show me when the ball would go in and I could swing the Wiimote down. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to control the meter, a problem that is partly a result of the fact that I have no idea when my raised Wiimote will be detected and partly because this meter is never mentioned in the manual. I ended up only ever getting one serve in out of many, many games because the meter would swing too fast to the “out” positions and the player would serve. More double faults for me than Elena Dementieva. Luckily, the Z button on the nunchuk does an easy, automatic serve.

The gameplay itself isn’t terrible, although my playing is - I really did get into swinging, to the point of actual exertion - a big bonus for me, as I really like to immerse myself into action games. I suspect it is similar to past Top Spins, although I think some of the camera angle issues in Top Spin 2 have been addressed. The players all looked decent, but I was getting wrapped up in trying to just play so I didn’t notice them getting fatigued, one of the features of the game.

To sum up my first experiences:

Pro: I actually did get some exercise playing.

Pro: Winning points was actually fun.

Con: The manual is complete crap.

Con: There are no action based tutorials - you must learn in the game, and it is a bit much for us new folks to learn at the speed of a game.

Con: There seems to be some problems with detecting to Wii Remote being raised on my system that couldn’t be fixed by repositioning any of the hardware components.

Con: I needed to shut off the game due to frustration. I’m now staring at the manual.

My next plan is to invite some of my more game savvy friends over. Maybe they can help me figure this out.

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