I finally got a chance to check out Playground yesterday in the Electronic Arts press booth. While I was a bit let down by Dodgeball I was surprised to find myself enjoying quite a number of the pick-up-and-play games packed into the title.
The instructions were all in German and the PR folks were mostly gone for the show, so I had to figure things out for myself. The game takes place on a playground, where you control a child avatar, running around collecting bags of marbles and looking for kids to play games against.To play a game you just run up to a kid playing with a toy specific to the game they're going to play and select them. The first game I tried was Tether Ball which, despite its simplistic interface, was a lot of fun. You use the remote to swing your hand at the ball as it zips around the pole, smacking the ball back at your opponent. If you wrap the ball and rope around the pole enough times in a row you win. You can also hold in the trigger to charge up your swing. I know it sounds easy, but it was pretty fun.
I can't say the same for Dodgeball. While you could catch the ball with a simultaneous trigger and button push and throw the ball by whipping the remote forward, you couldn't move around, instead you remain mostly rooted to the spot, which really sucks the fun out it.
I also tried a strange soccer/volleyball game that played just like two-on-two soccer but with a net in the middle and wasn't that much fun.
My two favourite games in the game were the Slot Car racing and the Paper Airplane flight. In the Slot Car races you hold the A button as gas, double click to turbo and tilt the remote side to side to change lanes. You can also pick up power-ups and attack your opponents. Simple, but fun. To control the plane in the paper airplane flight you hold the remote as if you were about to throw it like a dart and then guide the plane by tilting it side-to-side and forward and back. Once airborne you have to avoid obstacles and hit power-ups like electric fans or stop watches.
While Playground isn't exactly a deep game it is a perfect match for the Wii, one that I think is a nice match for games like Wii Spots and Wii Play, but perhaps for a younger set.