Wii Sports Resort Review (Wii)
To many hardcore sports gamers, the 2006 release of Wii Sports was a bit of a disappointment. While the game provided some realistic motion controls, not to mention the greatest bowling simulation ever, it was difficult to shake off the notion that the game was nothing more than a glorified tech demo for Nintendo's new system. Outside of bowling, the game offered up barely enough content to keep even the most devout Wii supporter busy for a couple of hours -- let alone a devout sim-style gamer.
It's hard to believe that it has been almost three years since the Wii first found its way to the States, but those years have not been kind to sports gamers. But recent releases such as Tiger Woods 10, EA Sports Active and Punch-Out Wii have begun to sway things back in the positive direction. And if you are one of the lucky devoted sports gamers out there that did not sell your Wii, Nintendo is now rewarding you with the recently released Wii Sports Resort, also known as Wii Sports 2.
Frisbee isn't the greatest Wii Sports Resort game, but it's realistic-ish.
On the Island
Wii Sports Resort (WSR) begins with your selected Mii skydiving from a plane onto a fictitious island where various sporting events seem to be key -- think the Island of Dr. Moreau meets summer sports camp, minus the half-animal, half-human freaks. As you free fall onto the island, the game gives you the opportunity to try out the MotionPlus controls, with each flick of your wrist controlling your Mii's body movements. This brief controls tutorial doesn't add a whole lot to the overall game experience, but it does immerse the gamer in the moment.
Once you pull your parachute and land on the island, you are immediately presented with the opportunity to jump in and play one of the 12 sporting events. Each event has multiple difficulty levels, and simply completing each event will unlock a different variation of said event (e.g. beat the 3-point shootout, unlock 3-on-3 hoops).
There is a ton of content in this game to unlock, but fear not, even the most casual gamer should have no problem unlocking every event within an hour of solid gameplay. And if the ample amount of gameplay is not reason enough to spend extra time at the sports resort, the variety of the sports included -- everything from water sports to American Gladiator style sword jousts to plane flying -- should keep even the most skeptical gamer coming back for more.
Let the Games Begin
The biggest question to answer at this point in the review is does WSR play like a selection of jumbled mini-games, or is there enough depth to each sporting event to keep gamers engaged for long periods of time?
Unfortunately for WSR, the answer to this question is not as clear cut, and defined as it should be. Sports such as bowling, golf and jet skiing are fleshed out enough to be their own games, worthy of their own $40 price tag. However, just as these games are worthy of praise, there are plenty of included games that are nothing more than glorified tech demos (think baseball from the original Wii Sports).
But regardless of the lasting value of each individual sporting event, I was surprised by just how much fun I had with each event (even if it was just fleeting fun). There are certainly no dull moments on Nintendo's fantasy island.
If there was one overwhelming negative in regards to the gameplay, it would be that for a game touted as taking advantage of the Wii MotionPlus peripheral, it really does not feel like the add-on is necessary to play the game. There is an ample amount of motion control usage in the game, but I wonder how much could be accomplished without the prerequisite of a $19.99 MotionPlus purchase for each additional controller you intend to use with the game. As much as I understand MotionPlus is responsible for some of the more subtle details in the game's more entertaining sports, it was difficult for me to shake the feeling that many of the other sports were completely neglected from the full MotionPlus treatment.
The 12 respective sports that you will be trying your hand at while you stay at the Nintendo resort are as follows: sword play, wakeboarding, Frisbee, archery, basketball, table tennis, golf, bowling, power cruising (jet ski), canoeing, cycling and air sports.
So which of these game modes are worth your time and which should be immediately scratched off the to-play list?
Power Cruising is Wave Race 64 with Motion controls. In short: it's awesome.
The Top Attractions
Basketball: Limited to a 3-point shootout and 3-on-3 team play, the basketball portion of the game is simply outstanding. MotionPlus has absolutely nailed the feeling of shooting a basketball, and finding your perfect stroke is extremely satisfying. I have spent hours in this mode by myself, just trying to beat my 3-point contest high scores.
Power Cruising: Nintendo has basically re-skinned Wave Race 64 and added motion controls to create the best jet ski racing game ever. Using the Wii remote and Nunchuk like handle bars on a jet ski, this mode is challenging and insanely fun, especially when going head to head against a friend. The only downsides are that you can not race against the CPU and are limited to simple slalom courses when you are playing solo.
Golf: Imagine Wii Sports golf with better controls and more courses, and you have golf in WSR. Nintendo didn’t change much, and the game offers the same simple yet addictive golf many have grown to love.
Bowling: It’s a bit disappointing to say that bowling has remained relatively unchanged. That being said, bowling is still one of the greatest motion-controlled experiences in the history of sports gaming. From a controls standpoint, the MotionPlus accessory doesn’t add much to the spin of the ball, which was something that I was looking forward to. For even more fun, the game offers 100-pin bowling. It may not sound that exciting, but it certainly adds some new strategies to multiplayer sessions.
Archery: If you’ve ever wanted to utilize your Wii remote and Nunchuk like a real bow and arrow, this game is for you. The controls work wonderfully, and the mode is very challenging.
Canoeing: This may sound lame, but canoeing is one of the most rewarding games you can play while at the resort. The controls are spot on, and I actually felt like I was canoeing down a river in a desperate attempt to break records.
Attractions To Keep You Busy
Table Tennis: As much fun as table tennis sounds, it really is not all that fun unless you are going head to head with a friend. MotionPlus doesn’t seem to have much of an impact on ball spin, and games never seem to develop into the intense matches found in Wii Sports tennis.
Air Sports: This event contains skydiving, plane flying and dog fighting (no, not the Michael Vick kind). I have no idea why this mode was even included in a sports game -- last time I checked this game was called Wii Sports Resort, not Pilotwings Wii. As confusing as its inclusion is to me, air sports are pretty fun, and they make good use of the MotionPlus controls. If any game was included as a tech demo for the new technology, this is it.
Sword Play: This event is another "iffy" sports inclusion (not to mention a big-time Freudian slip). The point of this event is to knock an opponent off a platform and into a pit of water. While the sword controls are solid, the battles quickly become a disorienting contest of who-can-wiggle the-remote-faster-in-order-to-win. This mode would be a complete failure if it were not for the inclusion of the slicing mini-game. In this mode you must perform the proper slice motion on various fruits in order to rack up points. It’s fun, but culinary prowess probably does equate to being a sport.
Sword play is a bit of an iffy inclusion...but it's not downright terrible.
Not Worth the Price of Admission
Wakeboarding: Unlike the jet ski races, the wakeboarding game is complete garbage. You simply tilt your controller Mario Kart style and move into waves as you are pulled behind a boat. It’s not very fun, it’s not at all challenging, and it’s not really worth spending more than five minutes on.
Cycling: How fast can you pump your arms back and forth while holding a controller? This sums up cycling at the resort. This game feels more like a Wii Fit reject than a full-fledged, well thought out addition to WSR.
Frisbee: If you can’t throw a Frisbee straight in real life, you won’t be able to in this game. The Wii MotionPlus accessory actually makes this game more difficult than it should be, and the entire mode reeks of a flimsy tech demo tacked on to make the MotionPlus look cool.
The Scenery Is Beautiful
Call me crazy, but I absolutely love the art style in the Wii Sports games. There is something undeniably cool about competing in various competitions with your custom Mii -- a nice touch is that the Mii wears event-specific clothing. While some sports developers strive for photo-realism on the Wii's inferior, non-HD hardware, Nintendo has created a game in WSR that is absolutely gorgeous on HD displays, simply because of its simplicity. The respective sporting venues are crisp and colorful, the Mii characters are detailed and well animated, and the overall presentation of each event is very polished.
WSR doesn’t offer much in terms of extras. The game does have a nifty stamp system that works like the Achievement/Trophy system on the 360/PS3. Many of these stamps are very hard to get, and they add a lot to the replay value of the sporting events. On the negative side, there are no rewards or unlockables for getting these stamps, so you are left with bragging rights only.
Another major disappointment is that there is no online support. I have been begging for online bowling since the original Wii Sports was released, and was very disappointed to once again discover that there is no online component. I would have even settled for leaderboards where I could challenge my friends to beat my amazing 3-point contest scores or archery feats. A competitive leaderboard would have been enough to take this game to another level, but instead I am left waiting for who knows how long until Nintendo realizes the importance of these features in 2009.
We Hope You Enjoyed Your Stay, See You Soon?
Wii Sports Resort is a very good game with some very bad additions. While there were sports that I completely disliked (Frisbee, cycling), I found myself playing others for hours at a time (basketball, jet skiing). The game is very well done, even after taking its shortcomings into account. Most importantly, WSR feels much more polished and complete than its little brother, Wii Sports.
Only time will tell if WSR can duplicate the success of Wii Sports, but I have a feeling the game will slowly find its way into many Wii libraries (being packaged with the MotionPlus accessory helps as well). It may not be the perfect game to showcase the Wii MotionPlus -- Tiger Woods 10 easily wins that award -- there is no denying the fact that there is now another top-tier sports game on the Wii.
If you are a fan of the Wii and like sports, you owe it to yourself to pick this game up. You will have a blast.
On the Island: Some games play great and make great use of MotionPlus add-on, others do not fare as well. Taken as a whole, the good games play great, and you will quickly forget about those that do not.
Graphics: Finally, a Wii game other than Punch-Out Wii that looks great on HD Displays. If you like Mii characters and colorful and cartoonish atmosphere, you will find plenty to love here.
Presentation: The menus look great and are easy to navigate. The sound and commentary could use some work.
Entertainment Value: Even if there is a specific game you dislike, you are sure to find another you can not step away from.
Learning Curve: Some of the sports will take some getting used to, but for the most part the controls and objectives are straight forward. This is a pick-up-and-play type of game.
Online: None to speak of and it's unfortunate.
Score: 8.0 (Very Good)