The Wii Series (Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Wii Music, and so on) often gets a lot of flak from the gaming community at large because of the games' accessibility. Now the newest entry of the series is flying off the shelves, and those who have not yet made the purchase may be wondering to themselves whether or not the game really warrants the huge sales numbers.
I will admit; when I bought my Wii, I gave Wii Sports a few playthroughs before never doing so again. When I bought Wii Play, I got more out of the extra controller than I ever did the game itself. Fear crept through my body as I made my preorder for Wii Sports Resort, and even more so when I picked it up. Would Wii Sports Resort prove to be a repeat of my past experiences?
This is going to be a doozy of a review, so just hit the jump!
Wii Sports Resort (Wii)
Released: July 26, 2009
Within Wii Sports Resort are 12 different game categories, most with two or three different games under them. I don't think there is any other way to conduct this review without going in depth about what each game is and what it has to offer. Without further ado, I would like to start with...
The Swordplay group is hands down the absolute gem of the compilation. First is Duel, which pits two players against one another up on an American Gladiators-style platform surrounded by water. But instead of huge cotton swabs, each player has a brightly colored plastic sword in hand. The only button used in this game is B, which blocks.
More than any other, this game will stun you with its nearly flawless controls. It's simply amazing how well the MotionPlus makes this game work. It makes it much less of a wagglefest than it would have been without; you really have to look at where your opponent is striking or blocking, and act accordingly.
Speed Slice is a two-player competitive game where the object is to cut items faster than your opponent and in the correct way. This is another game that really shows off the MotionPlus, as you can literally slice at any angle. Watching the sliced pieces slide and fly off after a good cut is really satisfying, and on top of that, you are not always held within the game's boundaries to slice, wait for the next item, and slice again. You can keep hacking away at an object a few seconds after the initial slice, or you can give yourself side goals, like slicing the strawberry off the top of a cake or knocking a flower out of its vase.
The last of the Swordplay games is Showdown, a one player game in which you fight countless hoards of enemy Miis. It starts out easy, but it steadily rises the further you get into it, and ends up being pretty hard in the later levels. Like Speed Slice, this game can be very satisfying at times (like when you circle around and knock out several enemies with one blow). However, this is one of the only times where the MotionPlus got noticeably wonky. Luckily, the controller can be recalibrated by a single press of down on the D-pad, so it's never too much of a problem.
The Frisbee category holds two games: Frisbee Dog and Frisbee Golf. Out of the two, Frisbee Dog really shines. It is a simple concept -- the player must attempt to throw a Frisbee to hit a marked area, and the dog will catch it and bring it back -- but it is surprisingly fun. A press of the B button will lock your Mii into a throwing stance, and a flick of the wrist and release of the button will send the Frisbee flying. You can throw the Frisbee at any angle you can turn your wrist.
Frisbee Golf is not too much different than normal Golf, save for the fact that the ball and clubs are traded for Frisbees. It's fun enough, but it lacks challenge. Unlike Frisbee Dog, Frisbee Golf does not score the players based on their proximity to the target. Instead, there is a large ring of light around the end of the course, and the round ends once the player throws their Frisbee through it. It's a bit of a bummer.
There is one Archery game, but it's one of the best games in the entire compilation. In it, the Wiimote/Nunchuk combination is used like a bow and arrow -- the A button is used to hold up the bow, and the Z button is used to pull back the arrow. While holding Z, the player can move the hand holding the Nunchuk backward to both emulate the real drawing of a bow and to pull back faster.
You will really enjoy the tactile experience of this game. The way that the remotes are used in conjunction really draw you into the gameplay. Distance, wind, and some obstacles are considerations to make, so it's not entirely about getting the middle of the target directly in your sights all the time. But even if it doesn't put as much emphasis on the preciseness of the MotionPlus as the other games, Archery is more than likely better off with it, and very fun.
There are two very straightforward games in the Table Tennis category: Match and Return Challenge. The former is a one or two player match game, and the latter is an up-to-four player challenge game where each player tries to return the most balls.
Still, these are two of the more fun games, and some of the better examples of what the MotionPlus has done to make games that have long existed on the Wii a much better experience. The way that you hold and swing your Wiimote will make all the difference between a win and a loss. You can put some spin on the ball, and it is easy to switch from a forehand to a backhand.
Bowling is pretty much just like its predecessor. Two of the training games from Wii Sports make a reappearance as fully formed game modes. Spin Control is the less fun of the three; it's the one where you have to maneuver your ball through an increasingly difficult set of obstacles. Meanwhile, 100-Pin Bowling is even more fun than it used to be. Now there are always 100 pins, instead of an increasing number per round.
The way that you are holding the Wiimote when you release B determines the trajectory of the ball, so that if your throws have a natural curve in real life, they are likely to occur in game. That being said, you can't just move your Mii around to a sweet spot and get a strike every time. You have to really pay attention to how you're turning your wrist, adding a new layer of difficulty to this old game.
Golf is also pretty much the same thing carried over from the original Wii Sports, only it has nothing extra to spice it up. There's not much to say about it other than the fact that you can really feel the difference that the MotionPlus makes in this game. It takes more skill to make a straight shot, but you can also try to make angled hits work to your advantage. I would be hard-pressed to say that Wii Sports Resort's Golf isn't one of the better golfing experiences in gaming, when considering realism.
Those wanting a new Wave Race game may have had their ears perk up at the premise of this set of games. There are two different modes, but they're not much different other than the fact that one can be played by up to four players and the other is a two player split screen game. The object of both is to drive through floating rings and reach the end before everyone else.
These games use the Wiimote/Nunchuk in a set up that mimics a watercraft's handlebars. The B button accelerates, and tilting steers. For a speed boost, you can quickly twist the Wiimote toward you as if you were revving up the craft. The controls are great, but the games themselves are a little lackluster in their sameness. There are six courses, but they are all fairly short and not extremely varied in appearance.
In the Canoeing games, players must hold the Wiimote upright and use it like a paddle. Now, you would think that repeating the rowing motion over and over would get old five seconds into the game, but it doesn't. What you do outside of the game matches fairly well with what's going on inside, making the movements feel worthwhile and satisfying.
There are just three minor problems. One is that, like Power Cruising, the playable levels in Canoeing all look and feel the same. The second is that the MotionPlus gets knocked out of its calibrated state every once in a while. Again, the latter problem can be rectified right away with a press of the down button, so it's only an irritation at most. The last and biggest problem is that you will most likely not feel the need to play it again after doing so once.
Air Sports is a category that has a little more variety than the others, as its three games are not based on the same basic one. Skydiving is a simple game that uses the tilting of the Wiimote to move a Mii around as it falls from the sky. There are AI skydivers whose hands you can grab for points. There are also pictures of you being taken at certain moments during the fall; if you can maneuver your group to where everyone is facing the screen/camera, you'll get even more points.
The other games throw players into biplanes. The way that they control is pretty neat; you hold the Wiimote in your hand like a paper airplane and tilt it to steer. A speed burst can be performed by pushing the Wiimote forward.
The first of these, Island Flyover, is a one player Pilotwings-ish game where you are free to explore the island resort. The second, Dogfight, is exactly what it sounds like. In this game, the A button shoots missiles, and the goal is to shoot down your opponent. The health system is very reminiscent of Mario Kart's Battle Modes, with a number of balloons attached to each plane. Extra balloons randomly pop up all over the map that can be collected, but the count caps at 30. The game sounds fun, but it quickly falls into a rut. You either become the guy who sticks to the other person and continuously shoots at them, or the one who collects all of the extra balloons before the other person can get to them.
The Air Sports games are some of the more creative ones as far as the ideas behind them and the control scheme go. Even so, most people are not likely to give them many replays. There isn't a whole lot of substance to them to warrant going back more then a few times. Still, they aren't the worst that the game has to offer. That honor goes to the last three groups of games I have to discuss.
Wakeboarding only has one game, where the object is to ride the wake and do tricks. The Wiimote is held sideways like a handlebar. Tilting it to the right or left will move you in that direction, and pulling up will cause you to jump. It's boring, to say the least.
Cycling is a lot like Canoeing, except tedious. You have to alternately push the Wiimote and Nunchuk up and down as if they were pedals, and lean the controllers to steer. It gets old quick and doesn't feel as good as rowing does, even though they're based on the same basic idea. When you try to pedal quickly to go faster, the game punishes you by making your Mii tire out and slow down. You're forced to maintain the same pace throughout most of the races you run, which is not satisfying
Basketball is perhaps the worst of the bunch because it squandered the potential it had to be a great set of games. Shooting the ball is about the same as the other games that have you throwing projectiles, but this time, the strength of your flick is also a factor. It's almost too hard to make a shot, which is what the first game, 3-Point Contest, is all about. But that's all it is. Bend the Wiimote down, grab a ball with B, let go of B to make a shot, repeat ad nauseum while on a timer.
In the second game, Pickup, you're playing a game of 3-on-3. When playing offensive, the A button or D-pad is used to pass the ball to your teammates, and you dribble with the Wiimote. When on defense, a flick will steal your opponent's ball. This game could have been very cool in comparison to 3-Point Contest, but the difficulty behind making a basket ruins the pacing of the game.
Unlike the other games, you can monopolize a "sweet spot" in Basketball; that is, you can flick your arm in just exactly the right way every time to make a basket, if you're lucky enough to find the right way. This should not be a possibility in a game utilizing the MotionPlus. I feel that the game does not capture the experience of playing basketball very well, making it stick out like a sore thumb in this compilation that is otherwise all about making its' experiences feel as natural as possible.
So, in a nutshell, roughly 1/3 of the game is not as good as the rest.
Phew! I hope you're still with me here. I know that was a lot, but I still have to go over a few things universal to the entire game.
The graphics are what you would expect from a Wii Series title -- very simple, colorful, and full of Miis. Even though some would laud the visuals to be last-gen, there is a ton of personality packed into them, from the various outfits the Miis wear (Hawaiian shirts, heavy armor, Nintendo polos) to the details on Frisbee Dog's dog (tail wagging, nose wriggling). The music is mostly forgettable, since Totaka was not brought back to score this sequel to Wii Sports, but it's nothing bad. You will probably want to bring in a stereo and blast something more epic while mowing down enemies in Showdown, for example.
One of the best things about Wii Sports Resort is that it doesn't force the owner into buying several MotionPlus accessories if they want to play with a bunch of friends. Most of the multiplayer games are played in turns or have team play, making the option to pass around a single controller a viable one. This is a wonderful thing for a game as party-friendly as Sports Resort, and is almost unheard of in a day and age where companies strive to make gamers buy as many of their little plastic accessories as possible.
Most likely, you are like me. You got Wii Sports with the console, and bought Wii Play just for the free controller. How will Wii Sports Resort be any different? Well, it's got more genuinely fun games than both of the older titles combined. It's not the best gaming experience you will ever have on the Wii, but it's close; the majority of the games are very fun and use the controllers in very interesting ways. It has way more to offer than the previous games combined, and games like Swordplay and Archery will keep you coming back for more. Nintendo really packed all they could into this compilation to ensure that it doesn't just get tossed aside once you get your free MotionPlus out of the deal.
Wii Sports Resort is a glimpse into the promising future of what developers can do with the power of the MotionPlus. If you can, for just a moment, get past the fact that the console's motion controls were not 1:1 to begin with and not let that sour the experience, you will get a lot out of it.
Score: 8 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)