I decided yesterday to try to work out how the computer-operated characters in Wii tennis get such vicious side spin on the ball. After a lot of experimentation, I have a much better grasp of how it works, but trying to concentrate on how I was moving the remote completely hammered my timing and my score dropped by about 1000 points, enough to make me lose my Pro status.
It’s much more subtle than it initally appears; when you first start playing it seems to be all timing, but actually you have quite a lot of control over your shots. What it’s not is much like playing tennis.
I find the way wii games use the controller quite interesting; it measures tilt and acceleration in multiple directions, so it has a lot of information to play with. But it’s not magic; it measures relative movement but it doesn’t actually know the position of the controller. The ideal tennis game would be able to measure the entire shape of your stroke and the angle of racket at the moment of contact and use that to model the shot. If they could do that, someone who played real-world tennis would actually be able to just pick up the game and play all the shots they wanted. Instead, although it uses all the information available to subtly vary the shots, it doesn’t manage to create the illusion of really playing tennis.
It’s still a fun game, though.