Hyperkin's Tennis and Baseball Kits for the Nintendo Wii are but the latest is a long, and ever-growing line of third-party, sports-themed peripherals that are now available for the console. Companies like PDP/NERF and Intec have offered such products for some time now, but Hyperkin is hoping that their attempt at advanced realism will be enough to sway the average gamer away from the larger, more readily-available brands and into trying their products.
The Tennis Kit and the Baseball Kit are separate purchases, but they are similar in design and functionality, and as such, can be described (mostly) as one. The one striking difference is that when purchasing the Tennis Kit, you receive two rackets, whereas with the Baseball kit, you only receive a single bat.
General assembly of the pieces is easy enough - you slide the Wii Remote into the included handle, and then snap the actual equipment shaped pieces onto the top - but when sliding the Wii Remote into its cradle on both units, I found that the four inside strips of padding (that help to cushion the Remote as it moves) were placed on with what might as well have been double-sided tape, and before I had even begun playing a game, I was forced to remove the Wii Remote and replace the strips that had fallen off.
Also, the design of the foam pieces makes it very hard for the Wii Sensor Bar to pick up on your movements, if you're pointing directly at the screen. As the foam, to a point, covers the Wii-mote's line-of-sight, you have to change the way you're holding the unit until you can find a position that works. By that point, it's almost easier to remove the foam piece altogether, navigate through the menus and then replace it afterward, but I shouldn't be forced into such a workaround to begin with.
Otherwise, the foam is lightweight, which makes the Remote feel relatively unchanged in your hand. That is, you won't feel "top-heavy" when holding the pieces at an angle to swing. However, small children should be supervised when using these peripherals, as the foam (especially on the baseball bat) is so lightweight that it could be all-too-easily destroyed with a well placed tug.
What makes these units different from the many different sports-themed Wii Remote add-ons already available is the inclusion of "Sound Plus technology," that will, in theory, enhance your gameplay experience by letting you "hear every swing" of the baseball bat or the tennis racket. If you're expecting something electronic - don't. The "Sound Plus technology" ultimately boils down to a piece of plastic that moves back and forth inside the foam, that, when colliding with a barrier inside, makes a sound that resembles that of a real baseball bat or tennis racket.
The sound effects are a nice novelty feature, and sure, for the first few swings, I could see the draw. However, the moving internal parts don't always slide back down to their starting positions after every swing, forcing you to wiggle the whole assembly until you hear or feel it pop back into place. Unless you pause the game after every swing, the time it takes you to "reset" the moving parts will probably see you lose whatever game you're playing.
All of this isn't to say that the units are entirely horrible, as the sound effects are fairly realistic (when considering that you're ultimately working with plastic and foam), and you can easily interchange the tennis racket or baseball bat attachments without removing the Wii Remote from a single cradle. However, when the sound effects work only sporadically, and you find things falling off of the pieces before you even begin, it's hard to recommend these as a purchase, even if you have yet to invest in a line of Wii sports-themed peripherals.
Special thanks to Dirk Foster and Hyperkin for providing review product.