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Wii Play: Motion set to move on up the charts next week

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Gaps Solitaire

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Fun for the family.

What's the best-selling Wii game ever?

Sounds like a simple question, but the answer isn't necessarily so straightforward. Wii Sports? Well, yeah, but it hardly counts; it's not like Wii owners outside Japan had a choice about buying it since it came packed with every Wii console. Wii Fit? Nope. Popular though it is, it's about five million copies off the pace.

Excluding the packed-in Sports, the answer is a three-way tie: sequel Wii Sports Resort, racing smash Mario Kart Wii, and the simple, unremarkable minigame-fest, Wii Play.

Appearing early in 2007 a few months after the Wii itself, Wii Play achieved its staggering sales success -- somewhere over 27 million copies -- with a clever deal: it came bundled with a brand-new Wiimote. Or conversely, the remote came bundled with a game. Whichever way you look at it, the bargain package (which carried only a small price premium over buying a lone Wiimote) was a huge hit.

But now it's looking a little long in the tooth. After Nintendo launched its precision-enhancing MotionPlus hardware in 2009, the standard Wiimote bundled with Wii Play was yesterday's news, and Play's nine minigames were never all that hot to start with. In other words, it's ripe for a revamp -- which is exactly what Nintendo is doing next week.

Smartly, the new Wii Play: Motion doesn't veer too far from the original Play's recipe. Rather than bundling a standard Wiimote, it'll include a black version of the Wii Remote Plus, Nintendo's newer model with integrated MotionPlus hardware. Along for the ride are 12 new minigames, some of which support as many as four players, if you have enough remotes.

Sounds like plenty of imagination has gone into the game selection, too. Drawing inspiration from everything from whack-a-mole to trampolines, the dozen bite-size minigames look to be a refreshing break from the same-old, same-old Wii minigame compilations we've all played a thousand times.

Take Grappling Ghosts, in which you'll use the Wiimote to hunt for an invisible specter, listening for a tell-tale sound from its speaker that'll indicate you're on track. Then you'll have to hook the unfortunate member of the undead rather like you might hook a fish. Meanwhile, Cone Zone sounds just like iPhone hit Scoops, tasking players to balance an ever-growing pile of ice-cream scoops on top of their Wii remote. And like Wii Play before it, Motion will make heavy use of your Mii characters; one game will have you
contorting your unfortunate Mii into various unlikely poses in an attempt to
fit through holes in a wall.

The new game is a bit pricier this time around, retailing for $50, which isn't quite the deal the original Play was (the Wii Remote Plus retails solo for $40, but can be found around $30 without too much effort.) Still, if retailers offer a similar discount on Motion, those 12 minigames could well be worth the extra dough. Look for it in stores beginning June 13.

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