Daddy-Daughter Wii Showdown, Week 3: In which we learn the old man still has some game

mario_hoops_fireballSometimes, being a parent actually has a few benefits. My pal Don Povia over at 30 Nothings hooked me up with a Wii system and some games as part of an ongoing semi-scientific study about the benefits of dads and daughters playing video games together. My daughter was extremely excited by the prospect, though her excitement dimmed a touch when she realized she’d have to be playing with me and not just her friends. Anyway, this is the first installment of several in our little Wii odyssey. Today: Boomshakalaka ’11!

You ever hear a song on the radio that you haven’t heard for years — decades, even — and you know every note, every chord change, every grunt and shout? It’s like all your memories have been filed neatly away but can come blasting out in full glory under the right circumstances.

I enjoyed one of these remembrances of things past when my daughter and I played Mario Sports Mix, and specifically the basketball game. Mario Sports features four separate big games — basketball, volleyball, hockey and dodgeball — and assorted mini ones, but it’s the basketball that caught my eye. I was an absolute beast at NBA Jam back in the day, and guess what — the controls and responses are virtually identical.

So yes, while Bowser and Donkey Kong tried to run a Kevin Garnett-Tim Duncan-style Twin Towers offense, I was all over their stuff, stealing and fastbreaking and throwing down backboard-exploding dunks … so much so that I almost forgot I had a teammate. (So I’m more Allen Iverson than Jason Kidd.)

And my teammate, my daughter, got a thrill out of absolutely destroying the opposition. This is an important element to remember: kids may like going head-to-head against you, but they absolutely LOVE being on the same team as you against the opposition. Hearing G-rated trash talk from your dad is so much more fun if it’s not directed at you, and screaming in unison at a particularly egregious non-call or taunting opponent is a wonderful bonding experience. (I’m setting her up for a lifetime of yelling at the opposition from the stands.)

Anyway, like most Wii games, the basketball game gets jazzed up with elements like tortoise shells you can throw at opponents (Dwyane Wade could do this and still not get fouls called on him) and coins scattered all around the floor that can boost your shots’ point value. (Mark Cuban is looking into this).

And the other three games have similar elements. Hockey, thankfully, even has a Blades-of-Steel-esque drop-the-gloves fighting minigame. Volleyball allows you to power down spikes in a way you never could back in gym class, and the typical mash-the-buttons-and-hope-for-the-best approach works well. But Dodgeball is tricky; that was the one game where I felt like the old man whose controller didn’t work right.

My daughter was a little leery of this game going in, saying she wasn’t thrilled with yet another Mario-character game. But once we started beating on Mario, Luigi and the rest, she became as bloodthirsty as her old man. There’s nothing quite like a perfectly executed alley-oop to bring the generations together.


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