Wii Play is the second-highest selling Wii game in Europe, and I think I’m right in saying it’s almost entirely due to the bundled Wii Remote. Why pay £32.99 for a controller from unscrupulous retailers when for £34.99 you get the remote and a game? Does that mean the game is only worth two quid, though? Let’s take a look.

Although my time with Wii Play has only been very brief so far, I’ve played each of the nine minigames enough to be able to tell which are decent and which aren’t. My favourite so far by a country mile is cow-racing game “Charge“.

Spinning the controller onto its side, you tilt it forward to accelerate, steer it left and right and lift it to jump. It’s an incredibly simple system that actually feels remarkably comfortable and satisfying, and although the main crux of this game simply involves bashing into scarecrows and avoiding hurdles, you can still see the huge potential for the control system. In fact, it’s so good that I’m now convinced Sonic and the Secret Rings, which uses a very similar if not identical control system, will be a very good game. I hope so, anyway.

Next up in my Wii Play top tips is Billiards. Although it lacks any form of tournament or ladder play options, the mechanics are pleasing enough to convince you to have another go. You use the Remote to point at the part of the ball you want to hit – top for top spin etc. – then hold B to cue, pull back the Remote, push forward and make contact with the ball to send it spinning away, hopefully knocking another ball into a pocket. It’s a simple but effective system that eschews the traditional console snooker setup of power bars and timing, instead going for actual physical movement, and although it’s not wholly authentic – you can’t screw off to one side during cueing, for example – it is enough to leave you inspired by how well a full recreation of snooker or pool would play.

Shooting Range is an homage to probably the most famous light gun game ever, Duck Hunt on the NES. Various kinds of targets appear – bullseyes, clay pigeons and even ducks – and you shoot as many as possible, or compete against another player to get them first. It gets pretty fast but, to be honest, there doesn’t seem much fun to be had here; although the obvious comparisons to Flash games have been made, you’re effectively just clicking on targets, so it feels a little less than engaging.

The next game – Tanks – is a great idea unfortunately wasted. Using the D-pad or nunchuk to drive a tank around a battlefield, you have to destroy the enemy’s tanks with mines or shells. It works fine, but the main problem is that, in two player mode, you have to co-operate – you’re not supposed to blow each other up. This sort of game is perfect for multiplayer competition, yet there’s no support for it at all. When Playing Tanks made me want to play the similar yet infinitely superior DeathTank on the Saturn, and if a game makes you want to play something similar that’s ten years old it’s not doing its job properly. With some proper multiplayer support, extra weapons and varied terrain, this would be an absolute cracker of a game. As it is, as with many of the Wii Sports and Wii Play games, it’s a missed opportunity.

Two of the games – Pose Mii and Find Mii – are so simple as to make them more or less pointless, to be honest. Pose Mii teaches you how to twist and tilt the Remote to rotate characters, but there are a hundred other ways players could have learnt that mechanic. Why not go for a “steady hands” type game? This mechanic has so many uses – imagine twisting the Remote to crack a safe, waiting for the click from the controller’s mini-speaker – that it’s a real shame they chose to place this game in.

Find Mii is practically “Where’s Wally?” (or “Where’s Waldo?”), with you trying to spot a particular character in a group of others. The levels vary from having to spot a character who’s fast asleep to matching twins or triplets, but there’s precious little fun here, sadly. In essence it’s similar to the Super Mario DS minigame “Wanted”, but for some reason it never feels as frantic a search, and so much of the enjoyment is drained from it.

Fishing is pretty good, and in two-player mode when one of you gets a bite the other player can steal it from you, if their reactions are quicker. I’m not sure how I feel about this part of the gameplay – on the one hand it keeps things fair by not favouring one player’s rod with all the fish, but on the other hand it seems wrong for reasons I can’t quite place.

The two remaining games – Laser Hockey and Table Tennis – are both largely based on Pong. Table Tennis just requires you to move the bat from side-to-side, but in Laser Hockey you can rotate the bat as well as move it around the table. It’s a limited idea that has instant playability, but you’ve seen it all before a thousand times.

You’ve probably got a complete picture of Wii Play by now. The games are instant but limited, and many of them lack a sense of fun or play, instead simply being uninspired ideas to teach you a controller movement. Only Charge feels like a completely thought-through game, and although you could ask for more courses and so on the game stands well on its own, which is more than can be said for most of the other games here.

Despite the overall negative tone of this review, it’s still worth buying Wii Play for the Remote, and Charge should give you at least a fiver’s worth of entertainment. Unfortunately the game on its own is largely worthless; everyone at Nintendo must be chortling on this fact as they see the game riding high in the sales charts.

I’m listening to Keep on Running, from Music of My Mind by Stevie Wonder