Before Nintendo became the global video game force that they are today, they made and sold toys in Japan. One of those toys was the Ultra Hand, an extending arm which could grab objects at a distance. While Nintendo is focused solely on video games nowadays, they still pay tribute to their origins in the form of parodies and tributes, with Grill-Off with Ultra Hand! being just one example. After releasing the game in Japan earlier this year via that region's Club Nintendo program, Nintendo has just recently put up the title up for purchase on the North American version. Is Grill-Off with Ultra Hand! worth the 80 hand-earned coins, or should savings be spent elsewhere?
The aim of the game is to use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to mimic the actions of the Ultra Hand by moving them like hedge clippers. This makes them to expand and retract allowing players to grab pieces of meat off the grill with the A button. They are then tasked with moving them without dropping them or burning them to a crisp, actions which result in game over. To spice things up, players must alternate between three different grills using the analog stick on the Nunchuk.
Part of the challenge in Grill-Off with Ultra Hand! comes from the fact that the meat will cook the longer it sits on the grill, netting the player more points the closer it gets to being "just right". These points also stack if the player nets a set of consecutive "just rights". By pressing the B or Z buttons, players can "turn up the heat" on the grills, cooking the meat faster, but risking a greater chance of failing because they let a piece of meat burn. This ability adds much more depth to the title and can create some pretty impressive combos in some of the later levels.
Alongside its fairly basic single-player offering, Grill-Off with Ultra Hand! also features a multiplayer mode. It allows two players to gather as many points as possible in 90 seconds. Both modes have a local leaderboard to compare scores as well as tutorials, but unfortunately there is no online leaderboard to compare scores against players around the world.
The issue with Grill-Off with Ultra Hand! is that it feels like it was rushed out of the door, compared to the polished gameplay experience Nintendo's games are known for. The strict motion that must be carried out to grab and collect the meat will tire out even the more hardened Wii gamer due to the rapid pace that they must employ to grab all the meat before it burns and forces the player to restart from the beginning. Unlike most arcade games, which Ultra Hand is clearly trying to emulate, the initial levels feel way too fast, which makes for a frustrating experience for someone who is just starting out with the game. Nintendo could have easily toned down the difficulty of the initial levels, as well as implementing a system to save your progress every level or give a set amount of misses before giving a game over.
Once players spend enough time with Grill-Off with Ultra Hand! and get a grasp on the awkward controls, the game becomes quite enjoyable, especially when playing with family members, but getting to that point will require an immense amount of dedication, which many casual players likely wouldn't be willing to put in. If you have some extra coins to spare and give yourself time to get accustomed to Ultra Hand, by all means pick up the title. For everyone else, Grill-Off with Ultra Hand! might be one outdoor outing that's better off missed.