Football, as Jimmy Greaves once said, is a funny old game. In fairness, Greavsie probably meant it's funny as in it's a game of two halves and anything can happen (insert your own cliché here), but he almost certainly didn't have FIFA 09 on the Wii at the time.
If he had, he may have stayed in and drunk a bit less, but more importantly, he would have discovered that football can be many different kinds of fun when you grab its shirt tail, scythe it down mid-dribble, and spit a big gob of cuteness right in its contorted face.
Fortunately, that's exactly what EA has done with the latest instalment of their multi-million selling football franchise, giving the game a cheeky 'All-Play' sub- title and an extra 8 vs 8 'footii match' option among other novice-friendly features.
This means that, stood side by side on the shelf, the Wii version is a mischievous Paul Gascoigne to the PS3 and Xbox 360's more serious Neville brothers, but we all know what happened to the mercurial Geordie, so is this the best new football game on the Wii or will we soon find it slumped in a bargain bin feeling sorry for itself?
The extra 'All- Play' aspects offer four 'party games' unique to the Wii where players are a mixture of Miis and cutesy pro footballers. This isn't as bad as it sounds, although three of the games, juggling, boot it and table football are the same as in FIFA 08 and are included purely to appeal to the Wii's casual gamers.
There is some fun in sticking Wayne Rooney in goal and making him fling himself around, but it's pretty limited and even the addition of multiball in the slightly better table football doesn't make these extras worth much of your time.
What will interest some players though is the 8v8 Footii match, where the same big-headed superstar Mii players can be used to have a light-hearted kick around. There are 12 international teams on offer, and with each nation you beat, you take their particular superstar, from Ribery (complete with facial injuries) to Ronaldinho, until you've unlocked the all-star team.
It's a nice idea and a fun break from the real game at times, but 8v8 is the kind of feature that will only really last in multiplayer, and as far as we can see, there isn't an option to play this aspect online, instantly limiting its appeal.
The more serious game does have good online support though, and you can take on other gamers in one off games or online leagues with fairly minimal lag, a feature that adds longevity, particularly to a football game where players can dip in and out easily.
The Footii match is an attempt to make FIFA more accessible, particularly to the Wii audience with more young and casual gamers than other platforms, and for these players, it will add extra value (right down to showing you how many calories a game of table football has burned. We kid you not!). However, for the seasoned, serious as Steve Bruce's nose, 'I've played FIFA since 94' people, it will just be an annoyance.
So by trying to squeeze two ideas in for the price of one, have EA watered down the main game, leaving FIFA fans disappointed? Far from it.
Where FIFA 08 on the Wii had about as much strength in depth as the current Tottenham team, FIFA 09 has oodles of serious football action to keep anyone busy. There are 32 leagues and 22 cups all in all, and with every single whistle and bell that you'd expect from the FIFA licenses, the coverage is comprehensive.
The game doesn't look as good as versions on the PS3 and 360, but it can hardly be expected to. The players can look a little lumpy close up (or is that just John Terry's real face?) and little things like the way the net bulges after a goal are far from correct, but compared to other football titles on the Wii, it's as good as it gets.
A major difference from the previous Wii outing is the option to play in manager mode, an absolute staple of FIFA that was strangely absent from 08. EA have corrected their mistake though, and now you can take control of your favourite team, control every aspect of team affairs from sponsorship to substitutions, and take the tabloid flak when it all goes wrong. It means that FIFA on the Wii is finally on a more level playing field and has the guts to keep football mad gamers satisfied.
However, that would all be in vain if the previously suspect controls hadn't changed, but fortunately, they have. Or rather, they've decided to do a bit of an impression of bitter rival PES, long thought to be the gameplay superior to FIFA's license monster.
There are the All-Play controls, offering an easy to get to grips with system for beginners, but you sacrifice a lot of control for this, and the Advanced Play controls are where it's at.
Using just the Wii remote, all you have to do to dribble is point the remote and off you go, twisting and turning as you move it. There's none of the slightly weird PES line-drawing to make runs, and passing couldn't be easier, picking a player out with the remote and simply tapping A to get it there. You can even choose to add in the Nunchuck or play with a GameCube or classic controller, giving endless options to cover all bases.
One problem here is that the choice of lofted ball or daisy cutter pass seems rather arbitrary, and sometimes you end up with the wrong choice through no fault of your own.
Shooting also borrows from PES with a shake to shoot mechanism, but it's smoother and simpler than before, even if doesn't always feel totally under your control. Still, it's a satisfying way to score a goal, and when the shake motion is used for free kicks, it's a very effective way to play set pieces that can drag on other systems.
Defending, which was hit and miss on FIFA 08, is now fully controllable, and you can jockey the player on the ball rather than relying on the game to do it for you. Again, it's not perfect, and selecting the nearest player to the attacker isn't as quick as it could be, often losing you a couple of vital seconds.
Another minus point is the lack of the Be A Pro Mode available on other versions, where players can control one pro through his career, adding even more longevity. It seems that the Wii will have to wait yet another year to catch up with this bit, although EA has included the custom tactics system.
These are fairly minor points though, and overall, FIFA has done a lot of growing up on the Wii over the last year, something few would have thought possible. It would be easy to dismiss it with the cutesy Miis and two games in one approach, but in spite of this, FIFA has been given what it needed to draw in the first timers and the old hands, snatching the title of best football game on the Wii with a last minute flick of the remote. See, Jimmy was right. It really is a funny old game...