Sports Conection is presented as a new way to play already familiar games using the capabilities of the Wii U. system, unfortunately with limited success.
What's that? ESPN is lending it's licensing to a Wii U game where you can play a version of all of the major sports right on your Wii U console? Wow! That sounds amazing, doesn't it? Yeah, we were excited about the concept too. Until we actually played the game. ESPN Sports Connection is a fumble, a foul and an error of a video game. It lacks any real depth and even the game that is there can be difficult and awkward to play with the less than stellar controls. This is hilarious because the game requires Wii Motion Plus but then doesn't do anything to take advantage of the technology. This game was designed with casual gamers in mind but this game might be a little too awful even for Grandma to stomach.
So let's talk about what is there that is at least passable. There's tennis, soccer, and kart racing. These mini games function well enough in that you can play them a couple times without getting frustrated. They do not however, ever come close to being fun. Soccer takes very little skill, when you race the kart, all you have to do is aim the Wii controller at the television, there's not much acceleration, you're just steering the kart in a circle. The tennis isn't half bad, but then you realize that the control is almost identical to the tennis is Wii Sports, a game that released six years ago. No, we'll take that back. It's not identical, the Wii Sports version is better.
The graphics don't do anything special here either. It really looks like it could be a game made for the original Wii, not the Wii U. The developer has done really nothing to take advantage of the extra power in the new system. The framerate is quite frankly bad while playing solo and the game is borderline unplayable if a second player tries to join in. This kind of slow down in a next generation title just leaves you shaking your head. The presentation is also shoddy, frequent menus pop up and interrupt what little gameplay there actually is. In one case, the game actually requires you to switch from the normal Wii remote to the GamePad, right in the middle of the game mode.
There is also no real reason to keep playing the game after you've sampled all of the different sports. There's really nothing here you'll want to work to unlock, no means of character progression. Even the basic Wii Sports did a better job of letting you rank up and play tougher AI as you progressed through a couple of the games.
There is nothing in ESPN Sports Connection for Wii U that you haven't already experienced in another title like Wii Sports or Wii Sports Resort. Nintendo's first party title from the last generation do a better job of entertaining casual gamers than anything that is on offer in this shallow rip off for the Wii U.
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