Something has gone wrong. Wires have been crossed, ideas have been lost in translation, and game design has been swallowed up in miscommunication. Whatever the truth, something has gone horribly wrong. Somewhere along the line, someone, and it may not even have been games legend and Wheelspin creator Archer Maclean, thought this was a good game. No, not even good - playable. Someone thought Wheelspin was playable enough to justify being published. That someone was Bethesda, the company behind Fallout 3.
Wheelspin is a sci-fi arcade racer for the Wii. In it, you drive around loopy tracks at fast speeds in futuristic cars, hitting boosts when you can and unlocking new tracks on a pyramid grid. It is awful. Why?
There are many reasons, but chief among them is the car handling. Wheelspin's various vehicles handle abominably. Twitchy Wii Remote handling will send you careering off of the track and into the nothingness that surrounds it, while the many holes in the track designs are sometimes nigh-on impossible to avoid due to your vehicle's unwillingness to turn properly.
Practice, in this case, does not make perfect. You do get better as you play, partly due to learning track designs and understanding what movements will cause your car to spiral out of control, but it's unlikely that you'll reach a point at which the handling suddenly becomes enjoyable. It's so frustrating, so annoying, so tear your hair out maddening, that it makes you want to knock yourself out with the Wii Remote, just to put yourself out of your misery.
I can only imagine it was a deliberate design decision. I can only imagine Archer Maclean meant for the game to play this way, as if repeatedly wiping out would somehow be fun for players. This must have been the miscommunication: Wheelpsin seems to sincerely suggest that you not only accept death all of the bloody time, but enjoy it. Maybe some will. Maybe some quite fancy the idea of playing a punishing futuristic arcade racer on Wii. But they're masochists who have no idea what a good racing game is.
Wheelspin promised eight-player split screen racing, and it does indeed deliver on that front, but some poor control decisions let the entire experience down. When the Wii Remote is used, it is turned on its side. Fine, you think. I'll use the d-pad to steer and the A button to accelerate. Oh no. Not in Wheelspin. In Wheelspin, you have to use the motion controls to steer. Twisting the Remote left and right turns, and the 2 button accelerates. There is no option to change this control set up.