Why waggle when you can dribble?
The Wii version of EA's pro basketball game was at its pre-E3 event in Los Angeles last month. Despite the build we played being at an alpha stage of development, the game still played very well with the Wii controller.
We first got to try the game with the standard control method, known as Advanced mode. The analog stick on the nunchuk handled player movement while the buttons and motion controls on the Wii remote were mapped to primary functions. On offense, it's as simple as tilting back the remote and flicking it forward to shoot. The upward swing starts a jump, and the ball will release once it is flicked forward. This works exactly as it would if you were shooting an actual basketball, and it does so very well.
For the times I was driving to the hoop, a "dunk now" indicator appeared, prompting me to throw it down with authority. This too is done with a similar controller motion, in this case a literal "slam" of the Wii remote, like you were rotating your wrist to slam the ball through the top of the hoop. The motion is fun to do, and it's satisfying when you nail it. The timing to perform the dunks was not always the same when I played the game, but that is likely a consequence of it still being in an early playable state.
Defensively, motion controls were used for blocking, rebounding, and stealing. A left/right swiping was used for steal attempts. An upward flick caused the currently selected defender to leap into the air for shot blocking or rebounding opportunities. I never had a situation where there was a false reading of what I wanted to do, like leaping into the air when I wanted to steal.
In Wii remote-only Family Mode control option, player movement is handled automatically. There is a well-designed option to drive to the hoop at any time by holding the B Trigger, and you can still pass, shoot, jump, and steal at any time, but other than that you can literally do nothing and let the CPU take over for you. The dunk indicator showed up while using this option, but there seemed to be a problem with the computer performing a layup any time I got near enough to the basket for it to happen. By the time I tried dunking, I was already automatically in the air. Since Family Mode controls were designed with people who don't know any better in mind, this really isn't a large issue. EA should probably limit the amount of time the dunk prompt appears on screen, however, as to not confuse anyone as to how someone could dunk when the ball has already left the player's hand via a finger roll.
Those dunk indicators are displayed with a 2D avatar representation of the player's Mii. The Mii faces will be used as the profile system in the game, to track player stats and to also easily differentiate between who an on-screen prompt is targeted at. As well as the "dunk now" indicator, there are also messages that say things like "nice slam" and "nice shot". Although the game has a somewhat arcadey feel to it, it's still primarily a simulation; seeing a star burst with a happy, smiling Mii pop up every time you make a critical shot in an intense game just isn't right. I asked if there would be an option to turn these prompts off in the final game, and thankfully, it looks like there will be.
We'll try to have more information on NBA Live 08 after E3 wraps up.