Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: ESPN Sports Connection - Nintendo Wii U
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on November 21, 2012
It was interesting for Nintendo not to launch a sports title to coincide with the Wii U launch, especially given the overwhelming success of Wii Sports with the original Wii. Ubisoft has stepped in with ESPN Sports Connection, which includes some of the sports from Wii Sports (Tennis, Golf, Baseball) and adds a few new ones (Football, Kart Racing, Soccer). I found this game a bit difficult to give a rating to, because there are some part of it that are spectacular, while others don't even rise to the quality of the original Wii Sports.

I'll go through each sport and rate each one.

Tennis:

There are two options here: "Match" or "Cannon Ball". Match works pretty much like WIi Sports tennis, in that you swing your Wii remote to hit the ball, and running is done automatically for you. You also have the option to use the GamePad, in which case you use to touchscreen and stylus to play, similar to tennis games on the DS. I was immediately disappointed by the graphics and the responsiveness, which both seemed to pale in comparison to even Wii Sports. It seemed that the designers couldn't decide whether to be "cartoony" or "realistic", so they ended up creating a world that as a poor combination of both, with gaudy colors and unnecessary background animation. Perhaps for that reason, despite the support of the MotionPlus, hitting the ball felt a little sluggish.

"Cannon Ball" was an interesting concept. It's a 2-player game where one player holds the GamePad and controls where a ball machine serves, while the other player holds the Wii remote and tries to return the serve to a certain part of the court. I'm not sure how much replay value this has, but it was an interesting first look into the possibilities of two-player action using both the GamePad and the TV screens. I'd give the overall tennis experience 2 of 5 stars.

Golf:

The two options in golf are "Stroke Play" and "Caddie". Stroke play lets up to 4 players play up to 18 holes on a generic golf course. I was impressed that the MotionPlus capabilities of the Wii remote seemed to be used well; when you prepare your swing, the on-screen "swing meter" gives a smooth and accurate representation of your swing angle. But as with most Wii golf games, don't expect this to improve your golf swing.

While the portion of the game you see on the TV was nothing earth-shatteringly new, the use of GamePad was a different story, and really showed the potential of the GamePad. While the main TV shows the court from a golfer's eye view, the GamePad lets you view the course from a birds-eye view, and even zoom in and use the GamePad screen as almost a virtual set of binoculars to have a 360 degree view of any part of the course. In fact, in the "Caddie" option, you can have two players, one setting up the shots and suggesting clubs and angles (something in traditional golf games the system does for you), and the other to execute the golf shots. I found some parts of the GamePad interface confusing, but I did appreciate the innovation here. Overall, I'd give the golf experience about 3.5 of 5 stars.

Baseball:

Baseball is where the game really started to shine for me. You use the GamePad when you're playing defense, and the TV screen and Wii remote when you're playing offense. To pitch, you draw a line from the pitcher's mound to a strike zone at home plate. At first your instinct is to just flick the stylus, but after a while you'll learn to finesse different types of pitches by drawing lines; your catcher will give you "signals" that tell you what kind of line to draw. If the batter makes contact, you'll see the ball coming at you on the GamePad screen, and you'll need to move the GamePad like a virtual glove to catch it. It takes a lot of getting used to (oddly, you're not really moving your glove to catch the ball, but you're moving the entire scene to align your glove with the ball), but I give them an A for effort.

As the batter, you're standing in the batters box and swinging at pitches. Again, I found the use of the MotionPlus capabilities to be impressive. Everything from your bat angle to your bat speed is taken into account, making this a very realistic batting experience. And while it's not exactly like batting against a real pitcher, it is challenging and has a very realistic feel to it. In fact, it may be a bit too realistic--young ones may be a little frustrated that the batting isn't as easy as in Wii Sports.

Overall, I'd give the baseball experience a solid 4 of 5 stars. Again, graphics are not as polished as they could be, but having two screens, one for the pitcher and one for the batter, is an innovation that really shows the potential of the GamePad.

Soccer:

With Soccer, you can have up to 5 players, 4 using Wii remotes and 1 using the GamePad. In this case, motion controls are not used (except to control the goalie's jump); every player holds his or her controller sideways and uses the arrow keys or joystick and buttons to move around. For all I said about subpar graphics on the other sports, I was pretty impressed by the graphics in the game; the main view is an overhead view of the soccer field (like on TV), and if you have five soccer fans in the house it's a pretty realistic experience as each person controls a different player.

The second activity in Soccer is called Penalty Shootout. Again, it uses both screens as one player on offense uses the GamePad and stylus to draw the trajectory of their kick into the goal, while the other player on offense has to anticipate the kick and flick their Wii remote to block the shot. Perhaps this takes a little more getting used to, but I found the Wii remote to be a little sluggish again; even when I was drawing my own kicks and blocking them, my goalie would often be too late or not jumping with the right range. Great idea, spotty execution. Overall the soccer experience seemed like a 3 of 5 stars.

Kart Racing:

This one is basically a cheap remake of Mario Kart Wii, where up to 5 players can play using the GamePad or Wii remotes. In all cases, as with Mario Kart, you hold your controller like a steering wheel and press a button to accelerate. On the Wii remote, you do have the option to change the steering to use the arrow buttons.

Overall, this didn't even rise to the level of Mario Kart in terms of graphics, responsiveness, or innovation. I'd give it 2 of 5 stars.

Football:

Strangely, when I first started up football, my entire WIi U console froze, requiring me to literally unplug the console. Not sure if this is a Ubisoft thing or a Nintendo thing, but it wasn't a great first impression.

As with Baseball, the player on defense holds the GamePad, while the player on offense looks at the TV. On defense, the player chooses a play on the GamePad (you only have three options: short coverage, medium coverage, or long coverage), while the offensive player does the same on the TV using the Wii remote (again, you only have three options: a short pass, a medium pass, or a long pass).

Once the ball is snapped, the defensive player sees the field on the GamePad from a birds-eye view, as if looking down on an animated playbook diagram, complete with Xs and Os. While the play is unfolding, this player has to frantically draw lines to direct his linebackers in covering the receivers.

On the offense, the player with the Wii remote receives the snap by pointing the Wii remote at the screen, and then bends his elbow to the point where he's holding the Wii remote like a football. He can turn to the left or right to find an open receiver, and make a throwing motion to pass the ball.

Overall, I found football to be fun, although because there are so many new concepts here, different players may experience different levels of frustration in trying to get used to them. Overall, football gets a 4 of 5 from me.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, I give Ubisoft an "A" for effort. It's not easy to break new ground, and their innovations with using the "second screen", while not always perfect, do demonstrate the vast potential of this technology. Just the fact that two players can play the same game but see completely different views is a great innovation. I also liked their use of the MotionPlus in making many sports a lot more precise than just flicking the Wii remote.

But looking at the game on its own merits most of the sports seemed limited, as if they were more demonstrations of the technology than attempts to really capture the essence of the sport. I wasn't a fan of the graphics, which had more of a cheap cartoony "shovelware" feel about them than really taking advantage of the Wii U's improved resolution. I see myself taking this off the shelf once in a while to show people what can be done with the GamePad, but not necessarily playing it over and over again. Averaging all the different sports, I'd give it an overall score of a 3. But that said, I still think it's a great start and hope to see Ubisoft and other publishers continuing to innovate and make full use of the Wii U's potential.
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on November 20, 2012
We are having lots of fun with this game. Every sport can be played as a full match and the integration of the new controller is really innovative. Playing simultaneously on two screens (TV and Gamepad) is fun and children really enjoy it. For parents, it is also great to have the Gamepad since you can control your team with the tip of your finger while kids have more physical activity using the Wii Remote Plus. We have played all the six sports in the game and our favorites are soccer, karting, baseball and also the cannonball challenge on tennis which makes playing tennis much more fun than on Wii Sports. On karting you can play up to five players or play by yourself on the Gamepad only. We are already looking forward to playing the game again and having more great Family time during this Thanksgiving!
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on February 4, 2013
I loved Wii Sports (bowling, golf, baseball, etc) on the original wii system, and I was excited to see a sports pack for the wii u. I should have done better research (reading the reviews now I can see I made a bad choice) because this game doesn't near match up to previous Wii sports games.
I gave the game 2 stars (instead of 1) because it might be worth a much lower price. The games are all "fun", but offer no change or chance of improvements or upgrades as you play. For that reason, it got boring after playing it once. It uses the new wii pad, but, other than maybe catching baseballs, nothing that cool.
It is a little bit of fun with a group, especially if playing with non-gamers because of the simplicity, but I wouldn't recommend paying more than $10 for it.
If you want a sports game badly, just buy Wii sports until nintendo comes out with Wii U sports.
11 comment| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
While it might not reach the quality that we're used to with Wii/Sports/Play/Resort overall it's still a fun pack of many sports game and at the end fun to play. You do have to get used to some of the controls as obviously they are not going to match up to way we played the previous mentioned Wii games but it's pretty easy to learn and not as much of a hassle as you might first think.For the price it's a good game title to add to the Wii U game library until we get Xenoblade and Zelda this year and later on next year.
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on November 29, 2012
I bought it for my kids after checking its enthusiastic review on FamilyFriendlyGaming.com even if I was bit skeptical at the beginning.
In the end it's true that my kids and their friends are having great time: they organized a big tournament among them, playing in teams and mixing them for each sports. Sometimes they complain because they don't understand everything or because something weird happens.
But they are laughing a lot and they would never stop playing together... and that's the most important thing to me!
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on November 20, 2012
it's fun, easy to play, and we're having a great time with it so far. The kart racing and baseball are by far the most fun, and the tennis ball machine is nice to play with the new pad.
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on June 2, 2016
My sons play these sports games and love them - especially tennis, soccer, and baseball. There are butterflies that fly around the baseball field and tennis court as an added bonus (who knows why they are there). Anyway - great purchase - highly recommend for the Wii U.
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on August 11, 2014
I will first start off by saying I have every next Gen n old Gen systems. Wii U is one my name my kids fav. This game was under 5 bucks and has a few different sports games to play. Now the graphics aren't quite as good as some of the other Wii U games but we'll worth the money.
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on December 12, 2013
The game play is horrible. The games don’t sense the controllers right, which made some of the games unplayable for me. Wii sports for the old wii was way better. My 8 year old son did enjoy the game tho
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on May 30, 2015
Our son was given an Amazon gift card and chose to order this game. Previously the only sports game we owned was Wii Sports Resort. He likes playing this one a lot as well. I can't comment on specific details or features since I am not the one playing but I can tell you an 8 year old can play without frustration and will enjoy this game.
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