How can a simple concept go so horribly wrong?
Racquet Sports' box boasts a cavalcade of features, ranging from Wii MotionPlus support to controller-free gaming using Ubisoft's motion-tracking camera (included with Your Shape or in a Racquet Sports bundle). It features five sports involving racquets, lots of unlockable goodies, six different gameplay modes, and a bevy of international Mii-like characters. Unfortunately, the actual gameplay falls extremely short, and devolves into a new breed of Wii games where you can alternately wave your hand instead of waving a Wii Remote.
The included sports are Tennis, Squash, Badminton, Ping Pong, and Beach Tennis. They're all very similar in gameplay with a few variations. For example, Squash is played in an indoor room, Badminton uses a shuttlecock/birdie instead of a ball, and Ping Pong is on a smaller table.
The games use the Wii Remote only, and control similarly to Tennis in Wii Sports, except there is a lot less precision in Racquet Sports. When playing the multiplayer, one of the other players literally just shook his Wii Remote throughout the entire game and did very well. There isn't much finesse in the controls, and the optional Wii MotionPlus controls do very little to remedy this.
Three of the five sports alternatively feature MotionPlus controls to terrible effect. Basically, all you can do is add a token amount of top spin or back spin. Aside from that, it adds nothing to the game. Ping Pong uses these controls, and when playing Racquet Sports' attempt at the sport alongside Wii Sports Resort's, the difference is astonishing. In Wii Sports Resort, MotionPlus adds significant control to your paddle and the ball; in Racquet Sports, tilting the Wii Remote with MotionPlus has more in common with pressing a button than replicating one-to-one control.
There is also a control method that eschews controllers altogether. Using Ubisoft's motion-tracking camera, you can play every game in Racquet Sports without a controller. To begin, you step in front of the camera and line up with an on-screen body silhouette, and then you are good to go. Then, you use your hands to hit the ball.
Sadly, there are tons of problems with this control setup. First, there's no on-screen representation of where you are in regards to the silhouette. It appears that the game only recognizes movement close to the silhouette, so it would be beneficial to know where it is while you are playing. Then there's the fact that you have to make small, controlled motions. Whenever I tried to make larger motions, the game didn't recognize them. It only recognized when I kept my arms close to my body and swung at the elbow. Even when I did that, it barely recognized them. The camera controls are extremely poor, and it's good for nothing more than a laugh at how ridiculous and bad it is.
Racquet Sports' game modes vary from the standard Quick Match and Tournament modes to Around the World and Party Mode. Around the World can be played with one or two players, and consists of a series of challenges and tournaments for every sport. The challenges, which are single matches, are how you can unlock different characters, and the tournaments unlock new courts. In Party Mode, you can play a series of fast-paced games with three other players. It also features a weird meta game where players must act a certain way for a match. For example, in one game I had to act like I had a stiff neck, while in other I could only say "Yes." It's weird, but surprisingly fun.
The characters are the spitting image of Miis, though they all have specific names and are ethnically diverse. The different courts appear to have no gameplay-related differences. Along the way, you also unlock clothing, accessories, and equipment, but they are nothing more than cosmetic differences.
Racquet Sports is a great idea, as it takes the great Tennis and Ping Pong parts of the Wii Sports games and gives them the main focus. However, this idea is executed terribly, since the games are malformed versions of their Wii Sports counterparts with a heavy emphasis on mindless gestures, and less emphasis on solid gameplay. It also doesn't help that the MotionPlus and camera controls are pitiful. If you love everything related to a racquet, pick this game up, but be warned, it kind of sucks.