Review: Grill-Off with Ultra Hand! (WiiWare)

You get what you pay for

For a video game rewards programme, Club Nintendo is dishearteningly light on actual video games. Apart from arguably overpriced Game & Watch DS collections and a year-end bonus for Elite members in the form of Doc Louis' Punch-Out!!, rewards have mostly been items such as posters and playing cards. But now, for a mere 80 coins (which can be amassed by joining and then registering a retail Wii game), the North American Club is host to an honest-to-goodness exclusive WiiWare game.

Previously released in Japan, Grill-Off with Ultra Hand is a slightly more complicated version of the old Game & Watch gizmo Chef, although the juggling aspect isn't as literal. Someone, somehow, is placing food on four grills and your goal is to remove it at the right time and put it on a plate. Naturally, you do this using Nintendo's indispensable culinary tool, the Ultra Hand, which is a plastic toy with extendable arms that the company originally released in 1966. (Fun fact: the toy sold over one million units, making it one of Nintendo's first big hits since the company started to expand its business beyond Hanafuda cards.)

You control your Ultra Hand by using the Remote and Nunchuk to mimic the toy's handles: tilt them towards each other for the neutral position and hold them parallel to extend the clamps. The analogue stick moves your hand back and forth, food is grabbed with the A button and cranking up the flame is done with B. It all works well enough, although it might take a few tries to wrap your head around the necessary multitasking.

Solo play is an unforgiving score attack where just one mistake will end your game. Two-player Vs. is a 90-second battle for the highest score where each player is responsible for two grills, lending plenty of opportunity for sabotage. That's about it, really, but it delivers pretty much the amount of content you would expect from an essentially free WiiWare game.

You might also expect the whole production to feel slapped together, but Ultra Hand's playful, chunky visuals don't disappoint. The catchy hybrid of deck party/60's spy pop tunes might also scratch that same itch for those of us who like to boot up the Wii Shop channel for its muzak.

Conclusion

If Grill-Off with Ultra Hand had a Weber-bound equivalent then it would be a cheap hot dog: it's okay to indulge in once in a while but not something you'll care to have again very often. It's fun in the same way a Game & Watch game is, but don't expect a whole lot more depth than that.