Not a really green track.
In Capcom’s station at Wondercon 2009, flanked by two audience-gathering pick-up-and-play booths for Street Fighter IV and a walled-off enclosure with demos for the M-rated Resident Evil 5 and Bionic Commando (Colin Ferris, Duke’s brother, was checking IDs), MotoGP for the Wii sat in a fairly inconspicuous corner. There it was standing next to another wallflower, Flock for XBLA, and both were being played once again by the Capcom representatives at their stations for the umpteenth time (gotta give a shout-out to Lisa). Being the type of person who sympathizes with anything that doesn’t get enough love or attention out of no fault of its own, I eagerly trotted through the crowds towards the Wii-mote.
[image1]Before delving into the guts of this motorcycle racer, there’s a slight matter with the title needs to be mentioned: MotoGP 08. This is one of the rare times that the year number in a sports title is not the present or subsequent year (though I’ve always found it strange that you buy “So-And-So 2010” in 2009), which is likely why the label beneath the plasma TV at the booth was simply called “MotoGP”.
Now before you cry wolf over yet another Wii port by Capcom, as if you just heard of Dead Rising: Chop Till You Drop for the first time, the Wii’s infrared control scheme actually works. Yes, you can color me surprised as well. Approaching any Wii port of a Xbox 360 or PS3 title, the apprehensions are of the grainier graphics (though perhaps great for the Wii), the tinnier sound, the absence of a few memory-consuming features and extra modes, and the consternation caused by squeezing controls for a standard controller into a dousing rod possibly wire-attached to a non-dousing rod.
[image2]So it is even more surprising that the only available control scheme at the booth was a Wii-mote, unadorned with any attachments apart from the bluntly nicknamed “Wii Condom”. Holding the Wii-mote sideways, like a motorcycle handlebar, you can lean the racer to the left and right to turn generally feels as it does in real life. Braking is a tad awkward in the beginning, as there are two brakes, one for the front brake and one for the back brake (that are actually on the front and the back of the Wii-mote as well). But after several laps, it quickly becomes second nature, as you become more accustomed to finding the timing and line for the perfect turn.
The Wii version of MotoGP 08 stays true to the original, retaining nearly all of the features and options that make the series accurate to the actual MotoGP sport. All of the tracks are taken straight from the international grand prix, broken down into several classes – 125cc, 250cc, and MotoGP. You can also select your character from a limited roster of racers from last year’s circuit (like the 5548m Sepung Circuit in the Polini Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix), and fine-tune the motorcycle’s turning speed, firmness of the tires, suspension, and acceleration-top speed ratio, though the number of tweak-able components is quite low compared to that of other racing simulators like Gran Turismo.
[image3]In your quest to come out on top, either in the brief career or quick-play modes, the essential step-by-step process of the race remains the same. Before entering a race, of your chosen difficulty, class, and number of laps (up to 18 “Real Laps” from the actual MotoGP), you have the option of late night practice as well as qualification. As expected, if you opt out of qualification, you’ll start last in the official race. That’s not a problem, though, since passing the A.I. racers is not that difficult, but there will be times when you’ll be knocked off your bike by coming too close to another racer.
Obviously if you’re looking for pristine, breathtaking, realistic visuals, then I’m amazed you have read this far into the Wii adaptation of MotoGP, because it probably isn’t going to cut it. But given that the paltry offering of realistic racing titles on the Wii, and the fact that you still haven’t upgraded to HDTV, MotoGP fits the bill perfectly, especially with a control scheme that actually makes sense with the console’s motion-sensing capabilities. Look for MotoGP to swerve into stores on March 24th.