Wii Sports Resort Review: Nintendo Takes You On Vacation
“Wii Sports” was the game that sold millions of Wiis. Not only was it the first game to be packed in with a console in years, but it also demonstrated to the Wii’s unique motion capabilities to anyone that was willing to give them a shot. Three years later, the follow up, “Wii Sports Resort” has been released to show off what the new controller add-on, Wii MotionPlus, can bring to the table. But, as any hardcore gamer that owns a Wii can tell you, the shine on Nintendo’s White Knight is starting to fade, and, for some people, this release runs to possibility of crossing the line between innovation and over-hyped gimmick. Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes with the game to realize that the hype is well deserved, and that “Wii Sports Resort” is a solid product.
“Wii Sports Resort” more than doubles the number of motion-based sports games that were included in the original, pushing the total to twelve, which, in turn, vastly opens up the gameplay possibilities across the board, with games ranging from archery to sky diving. Sure, only nine of the sports are “new,” but that’s okay, because the ones that are making their second appearance have added features, and are a much richer, yet still overwhelmingly casual, experience.
In addition to the number of sports included, there are two things that stand out as “game changing” differences, the first of which is the Wii MotionPlus support. Unlike “Wii Play” it seems like “Wii Sports Resort” is included in this package to sell the hardware, and not vice versa, since, this time around, the game itself could have easily been sold as a stand alone product. While it may seem like the Wii MotionPlus add-on, along with the included controller condom, may not add as much as the player may expect from the touted 1:1 movement ratio, if you go back and play Bowling or Golf from the original, or Table Tennis from “Wii Play” the difference become immediately apparent. And, after that, if there are still any doubters out there, just compare “Wii Sports” Boxing to “Wii Sports Resort” Sword Fighting, and you’ll see just how much that little MotionPlus block adds.
The other game changing difference in “Wii Sports Resort” is Wuhu Island; the game’s central hub, and the resort that you’ll be staying at for your entire vacation. Unlike the original, this hub really brings a sense of cohesiveness between all the included mini-games, which creates a much deeper environmental experience. Wuhu’s not Rapture or anything, but far as mini-game collections go, the inclusion of this hub makes it feel like Nintendo went the extra mile with this one.
Whatever way you slice it, the success of a compilation game package like “Wii Sports Resort” relies entirely on the quality and diversity of the games that are included, so here’s the obligatory rundown of the games that are included:
Swordplay – The Wii remote is your sword and you have to prove your skills with your “blade.” LucusArts, I hope you’re taking notes.
Wakeboarding – Use the Wii remote to pull off tricks as you jump the wake behind a speedboat. It takes the least advantage of the MotionPlus capabilities, but it is a lot of fun to land some impressive tricks in succession.
Frisbee – Swing the Wiimote like you’re throwing a Frisbee, and have your Mii’s dog catch it. The closer to the target that your dog catches the Frisbee, the more points you get. Easily the best substitute to owning a real dog since “Nintendogs” was released.
Archery – Aim with the nunchuck and pull the bow back with the Wii remote. This is one of the most challenging games in the package, as it requires a consistent degree of accuracy in the face of outside factors, like the wind. Look for this in the next “Zelda” game.
Basketball – Hit the court in a three-point shoot-out using the Wii remote as your basketball. This game is ideal for anyone that’s ever spent time at the bowling lanes on the arcade basket machine, instead of actually bowling.
Table Tennis – Use the Wii remote as your paddle, and battle all challengers. The Return Challenge mode where all you do is return serves is a lot of fun, and an easy way to blow an entire afternoon.
Golf – Use the Wii remote as your club, and drive the ball to the hole. It’s pretty much exactly the same as in the original “Wii Sports,” just with more holes, and more realistic thanks to the MotionPlus support. Regular golf a little too boring for you? Jump into the Frisbee games Frisbee golf for a little more challenge.
Bowling – Swing the Wii remote like a bowling ball and shoot for the strike. Nintendo did the smart thing this time around and included the 100-pin mode as a playable option. It’s pretty much the same and 10 pins, just 10x more fun.
Power Cruising – Use the Wii remote and nunchuck to control a Jet Ski. Make your way through the courses using the B button as a power boost. The controls for Power Cruising are a little more difficult than most of the other games, and will take the most getting used to.
Canoeing – Use the Wii remote as your oar, and swing it from side to side for speed. It doesn’t seem like it would work, but it does pretty well. The challenge in Canoeing isn’t so much being the fastest, but making sure you’re going in a straight line to the finish.
Cycling – Use the Wii remote and nunchuck as if you were peddling a bicycle with your hands. Yeah, it’s the least intuitive out of the whole bunch, and you’re going to look kinda dumb doing it.
Air Sports – A collection within a collection. Air Sports offers skydiving and plane flying, both of which have the same basic controls – just tilt the Wii remote to do change your angle. The skydiving intro to the game is one of the most engaging opening sequences in a long time (but it still doesn’t make up for the mandatory three minute MotionPlus how to). The flying game allows you to fly all around Wuhu Island, and it’s really the main reason that the game feels like such a cohesive environment.
“Wii Sports Resort” improves on the original game in every way; from the number of games included to the overall quality of the package, everything is just … better. Sure, “core gamers” may look at it as a package of games that just shows off the MotionPlus capabilities, and doesn’t really go anywhere. But those people probably don’t have friends, so what would they need a good party game for anyways?
“Wii Sports Resort” was developed and published by Nintendo for the Wii, and released on July 26th, 2009.