We grade ''Link's Crossbow Training'' and two other games designed to be played with Nintendo's new accessory

(Nintendo, Wii, Teen

(Capcom, Wii, Mature)

(Electronic Arts, Wii, Teen)

Overshadowed by the chronic shortage of Wiis during the past holiday season was the release of Wii Zapper — the $20 molded-plastic accessory that turns your Wii Remote and Nunchuk into a rudimentary light gun. A number of new Wii games have been optimized for use with the Zapper, including Link’s Crossbow Training, which comes bundled with each Zapper sold. Like Wii Sports — the game included with every Wii console — this Zelda-inspired collection of mini-games is the best of the bunch, not only because it’s free, but also because of its simple, enjoyable, and easy-to-control gameplay. The premise is simple: you (playing as Link) must take out a variety of moving targets, including sword-wielding skeletons and fireball-throwing goblins.

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, on the other hand, misses its mark. It is what gamers call a ”rail shooter,” meaning you have no control of the game’s direction — your character is like a car in a amusement-park funhouse ride, with zombies and creepy crawlies popping up every now and then. Umbrella Chronicles takes a stab at a plot, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before in any of the few thousand Resident Evil games you’ve played in the past.

Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 is the most complete of the Zapper offerings (although it can be played without the accessory). The latest installment in EA’s long-running WWII combat franchise, Heroes 2 is a full-fledged game, featuring both story and arcade modes, as well as online multiplayer action with up to 32 players — a first for a Wii game. You also have full freedom of movement — a big plus when you’re trying to blow away all of the goose-stepping bad guys Heroes 2 throws at you.

Ultimately, the Zapper adds a nice dimension to the very popular shooter genre, but it does have some flaws. For starters, it isn’t very comfortable. It places your hands in unnatural positions because the trigger is positioned too close to the front — the Zapper games we played required your fingers to reach buttons and stretch in ways that are only easy if you’re double-jointed. In many cases, we found ditching the Zapper altogether and using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk with separate hands, to be the best option. It may not be as glamorous as waving around a fake plastic gun, but the less arthritic our hands feel, the better.

Link’s Crossbow Training: B+
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles: C
Medal of Honor: Heroes 2: B
The Wii Zapper: C+