Publisher: Nintendo Price: $49.99
After Wii Sports became the highest selling video game of all time in units, likely due to being a pack-in with the Nintendo Wii, virtual sports fans have been waiting impatiently for its sequel. Their call was answered when Nintendo announced Wii Sports Resort, a tropical take and full game sequel to what many critics referred to as a glorified tech demo.
Though showcasing the technical aspects of the Wii’s motion control and forgoing flashy graphics, Wii Sport’s simple Bowling, Golf, Tennis and Baseball combination became an instant success with those outside the hardcore gaming market. The game became a hit with everyone from soccer moms to senior citizens, making many of the core gaming community believe Nintendo had forgotten them in favor of the casual fans.
Now, Wii Sports resort returns with bowling, golf and ten other new games that feature their new Wii Motion Plus technology, using vectors to allow a closer one to one motion than was previously available on the Wii.
Turning on Wii Sports Resort for the first time is a mix of both positive and negative experiences. First, the negative. Due to the “casual” nature of Wii Sports, Nintendo apparently feels that they must spoon feed instructions to the player. There is a three minute video that cannot be skipped through which teachers players the proper way to connect their Wiimote to the new Wii Motion plus attachment.
Something that should be common sense to a person with basic motor functions is instead explained in detail so intricate that it comes across as fairly condescending instead of informative. After this, to get to the Wii Sports Resort Island, the player sees their Mii strapped up and ready to jump out of a plane. The player is immediately thrust in to the Skydiving game where they have a full 360 degree range of motion with their Wiimote as they twist, spin and cartwheel their Mii down to the ground.
From there, the games begin. Returning from the original Wii Sports is an improved version of Bowling. Not only does a player’s Mii now where a colorful tropical shirt, but the Wii Motion Plus is put in to effect as the little “tricks” and shortcuts players used in the previous game no longer work. Now, your full backswing is recorded by the motion of the Wiimote, resulting in much more accurate throws down the lane.
As your arm goes back so does the Mii’s instead of the canned animated motion of the original. Also back from the original is Golf. Golf, much like in the original, is one of the more lackluster games of the title. Because of the way the Wii Motion Plus works, a fast golf swing will often be misread, resulting in slices off the tee. The putting system is still a weak design that was not improved upon. If you want to play golf, opt for Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10. In terms of golf, it puts the Wii Motion Plus to much better, much more accurate use.
Swordplay turns out to be one of the most pleasing experiences of Wii Sports Resort. Replacing Boxing, Swordplay puts the player on an platform above the ocean as he duels his opponent trying to knock each other off. The controls are very reactive and fairly accurate in this game. The vertical and horizontal motion of the Wiimote is captured perfectly with accurate speed as players swing at their opponents and block incoming attacks.
And no other moment in the game is as rewarding as when the player hits the final slash to knock their opponent in to the water. This game feels like it could be the precursor to the Jedi lightsaber duel that Star Wars fans have been waiting for.
Another great addition to the Wii Sports family is Frisbee. Frisbee comes with two options, the appropriately titled Frisbee Dog and Frisbee Golf. In Frisbee Dog, the player holds the Wiimote sideways and throws the Frisbee (by releasing the B button, not throwing the actual Wiimote) at a target area where their dog will try to catch it.
After a few tosses, it gets easy to learn the proper way to throw and curve the Frisbee in to the target area. Frisbee golf isn’t nearly as fun though as players launch their Frisbee down the Golf course, aiming at the green. Again, Tiger Woods is better for this as the distance throws in the game aren’t anywhere near as accurate as they should be.
Wakeboarding comes to the table with a somewhat boring gameplay. A player holds the Wiimote horizontal and uses it to steer themselves behind a boat. As they steer towards the boat’s wake, they pull up on the Wiimote to do a stunt in the air. These stunts are not dynamic and are chosen by the game purely on the speed and timing of the jump. Unlike games which require intricate combinations to pull off a fancy stunt, these feel like they are handed to the player.
Power Cruising has the same effect as it feels like a toned down version of Wave Race from Nintendo 64, minus the excitement of pulling off jumps. Downloading the Wave Race 64 from Wii’s virtual console is a better alternative for jet ski action on the Wii.
Combining Wii Motion Plus and the nunchuk is Archery. In the challenging game, a player holds the Wiimote vertically as a bow and pulls back on the nunchuk as they would pull an arrow back. The longer the player holds the arrow back, they are able to center their shot better while being conscious of the distance they must fire and the wind strength they must compensate for.
Basketball and Table Tennis both come as disappointing additions to Wii Sports Resort. Basketball controls feel like the most counterintuitive of the series. A player must learn to move their hands differently from how they’d throw an actual basketball in a shootout. Because of this, the game is a letdown. Table Tennis itself also has control issues.
Where it should have taken the near one to one motion ration that Swordplay used, Table Tennis often has issues when a player wants to make a backhand swing and their paddle is on the forehand side and vice versa. Attempting to switch sides with the paddle will result in the player to take a full swing, often resulting in them their hitting incorrectly or left vulnerable for the return.
Canoeing and Cycling come to Wii Sports Resort and feel more like workout than a game. Canoeing has a player using the Wiimote like a canoe paddle as they row themselves across various courses. Cycling has a player alternating shaking their Wiimote and nunchuk rapidly to push their biker faster through a course while monitoring their exhaustion.
While neither is bad, they aren’t exactly fun either. But if your Wii Fit has become a little played out, this is a good opportunity to keep your arms moving.
The final piece of the Wii Sports Resort compilation is Air Sports. Air Sports has three parts, Skydiving, Island Flyover and Dog Fight. Skydiving, as described earlier, lets the player have full control over their Mii as they glide back and forth between various groups of other divers, trying to pose for pictures on the way down. Island Flyover has the player hold the Wiimote much like a paper plane as they try to explore various corners of the island and collect locations.
It is about as exciting as it sounds. Dog Fight is a little better as a two player only split screen experience where players try to collect balloons as they shoot each other to knock their opponents balloons off. It is surprising this isn’t a one player game which is somewhat of a letdown.
Overall, only about half the games of Wii Sports Resort really deliver a fun experience. The improvements on Bowling add an extra level of control over the previous game’s favorite activity. Graphics were not surprisingly never improved with the only major graphical change coming from the addition of tropical shirts.
Wii Sports Resort is a fun experience in a larger group of people but isn’t likely to be something players will be going back to on their own. Again like Wii Sports, Wii Sports Resort will probably become a party game for more casual players than a game frequently played by hardcore gamers.