Nintendo’s Wii launched nearly three years ago on November 19th, 2006. Along with the system, for the first time, you got a pack in game, Wii Sports. It wasn’t so much a game as it was a tech demo to show you show of the things the Wii Remote could do. People flocked to the system because of that and it’s still being credited for Wii sales today with many people still playing the game after almost three years.
Fast forward to July 26th, 2009 and the release of the sequel to that launch game, Wii Sports Resort. Nintendo has taken all the feedback from that previous game and fleshed things out, added new games and even a new peripheral. Wii Sports Resort comes packed with Wii Motion Plus, Nintendo’s add on to the Wii Remote to make motion control more precise. Many people though that Resort would be another tech demo to show off the new peripheral. After getting your hands on the game, you’ll find out that’s not the case at all. Wii Sports Resort is a fully featured game that has twelve sports, ten of them being new, bowling and golf returning from the previous game. Within those twelve sports you also have the ability to unlock new modes and variants to those games giving you a total of 36 different events that can be played. Each of those events also has an achievement system in the form of stickers that can be earned during play. This gives Wii Sports Resort an almost innumberable number of replays because you’ll want to earn each of those stickers. They can’t be posted online for friends to see, but you’ll be playing this game with friends in your own home so they’ll be able to see exactly how good you are at the game.
When you first boot up the game you are forced to watch a video on how to attach and disconnect the Wii Motion Plus peripheral. This is a fairly straight forward video and chances are when you watch it, you’ll already have the device attached. It takes about three minutes to watch and then you’ll never have to see it again. Also on the first time you boot up the game you play a sky diving mini game that introduces some of the precision controls of Motion Plus. You’ll find yourself twisting and shaking the Wii Remote to test just how accurate the device is and you’ll be surprised by the near perfect precision that you’ll have. After this mini game you are shown the menu system that you will use to navigate through Wuhu Island. Each game is unlocked from the beginning and the menu features large easy to recognize buttons. Click on one of the games and you’ll be given the options for play modes. Each one begins with only one mode unlocked, but after one playthrough the next mode is unlocked so it will not take any time at all to unlock all the varieties of games available.
The first game you should try out is the sword fighting. It was used most in demonstrations of Motion Plus before its launch and you will realize just how fun sword fighting can be after playing this game. You face of one on one against another Mii in a duel on a platform above the water. Your goal is to knock your opponent in the water as quickly as possible. A swing of the Wii Remote corresponds to the action your Mii does and it follows you precisely. You can parry incoming attacks by holding the B button and countering when your opponent is staggered. Other variants of this game are speed slice where you attempt to slice an object in the appropriate direction faster than your opponent. First one to ten slices wins. The last variant of sword fighting is by far the best. It’s called showdown mode and you’ll traverse various areas of the environment while hordes of Miis come at you. You have three hearts and all the time you need to defeat your foes. Lose all three hearts and the game is over. If you defeat them all, many of them need multiple hits to be defeated, you’ll unlock the next area. After you play through ten levels you’ll do it all backwards against much harder foes. The difficulty ramps quite nicely and you’ll find yourself coming back to this mode many times.
Other events include canoeing where you use the Wii Remote as a paddle and you must learn how to control the canoe to get through a timed course as quickly as possible. Add a second player to the mix for an interesting test of your cooperation skills. If you don’t work together you’ll find your canoe spinning in circles and you won’t get anywhere. If you can master these controls, though, you will find yourself speeding through the course in no time at all.
Basketball is another event you may find yourself hooked on. The three point challenge has amazing control. You’ll have to accurately shoot the basketball in order to score as many points as you can. You have 25 shots and can earn up to 30 points. If you don’t use a proper motion you’ll find yourself throwing line drives at the hoop or the ball will rainbow and fall well short of the basket. There is also a pick up game where you play a three on three game of street basketball. If you miss a shot or have the ball stolen then time stops and play is given to the other team. It’s a very quick game of basketball that will have you laughing with and at your friends as you steal passes, block shots and generally just have some fun. I would love to see this control scheme fleshed out into a full game of basketball because the shooting motion is very fluid and intuitive and adding a nunchuck for movement would not hinder things in any way.
Archery is an event that you should not pass up. The Wii Remote is held vertically like you would hold a bow. Pressing the Z button knocks the arrow and you draw the nunchuk back to begin your shot. Release the Z button and the arrow flies at the target. You will have to pay close attention to the wind and the distance from the target and compensate for the best possible shot. When you press the Z button your vision zooms in on the target and a circular reticle appears. It will get smaller as you spend more time aiming. Don’t take too long though or your arms will get tired and you’ll have to line your shot up again. When you aim, the background and peripheral areas blur to give you the feeling that you are focused solely on the target. It’s a wonderful effect and having done some archery myself I can attest to the accuracy and feeling of this game. There are also secret targets hidden on every level that you can shoot for a full 10 point shot.
The next best, but probably, my favorite overall is the table tennis. I am a huge fan of the actual game and was blown away by the accuracy and strategy you can get when playing this game. Motions you would do in real life cause the appropriate actions to happen during play. Backspin, topspin, lobs, smashes are all there and can be used as you would use them in real life. My only gripe about this game is that it is a shortened six point version of the game. I would love this to have been a full 21 point game. You can unlock an eleven point game to increase the length of your sessions of table tennis. You’ll also see that the difficulty ramps up very quickly and after you reach pro level you’ll have to play many opponents multiple times before you are able to beat them. Rally’s between two well matched opponents will last a long time and the reward for winning one of those rally’s is an amazing feeling of accomplishment. You play this game next to a pool and there are dozens of Mii’s gathered around to watch you.
The last game I’m going to talk about in detail is the air sports. There is a flyover mode where you have five minutes to just fly around the island. Every place that you go to during a mini game can be flown to in your airplane. The environment is very large and it will take multiple fly overs to see everything there is to see. The island is also bustling with activity. Mii’s are everywhere interacting with each other. There are 80 points of interest that you can fly to and visiting them unlocks new times of day and other fun things that can enhance your experience. You hold the Wii Remote like you would a paper airplane and your movement corresponds to the appropriate flying mechanic. Many people will say this is what a Pilotwings game should feel like and they would be right. There is also a dog fighting mode, but you’ll find the environment might be too big for a one on one dogfight.
There are other games as well, many of them good, only a couple are not as good as they should be. You can play power cruising, which is another name for jet skis, golf, bowling, wakeboarding, cycling, and frisbee. All of those game mimic real life motions very well and the accuracy is as stated many times before amazing.
The visual style of the game is very similar to the Wii branded games before it. Your mii is used as your in game avatar and most times they still do not have arms or legs. The visuals have been improved somewhat from the original. The lines are more crisp, the colors are brighter. They’ve really tried to capture the feeling of being at a resort. There are Mii’s everywhere and they’re all engaged in activities you would expect to find at a resort. There are whales out in the bay that jump out of water or flip their tails creating big splashes, and birds fly everywhere. There is no end to the amount of stuff you can see while you’re on the island. Nintendo has been quoted as saying they wanted to turn Wuhu Island into a character and they’ve succeeded in doing just that. I can’t wait to see what else will await us on our next trip to the island.
The sound design is also much improved over the previous game. The usual sounds you would expect to hear are present such as birds chirping. Sword hits resonate around the sword fighting arena. Nintendo has done a beautiful job capturing the sounds of all the various events and you really feel like you’re present at those events. The theme for the menu is just as catchy as the Wii Shop channel or the previous Wii Sports theme.
There are a few things I would have liked to have seen improved. You will find yourself constantly recalibrating the Wii remote, though it is generally masked very well. Things like grabbing the frisbee before each throw hide the fact that you are actually recentering the controller and if you find things not responding like you expect a quick press of the down button on the d-pad will recenter the controller and you’re back in the action. It’s very easy to reach and can easily be done between actions. Many of the games, while there are a number of options sometimes feel like they could have been fleshed out a bit more. It’s a small gripe as there is always plenty to do and the action in the games currently feels good. You just feel like you want to have a full version of each of these games and any of them could have stood alone as a full retail game or a downloadable WiiWare title by themselves with some additions.
All in all, Wii Sports Resort is more than just a tech demo to show off the capabilities of Wii Motion Plus. There is a ton of content in the game already and you’ll find it’s as fun to play by yourself as it is with friends. The game rewards you for playing alone in the form of the stickers. Many of them can only be gained during single player play and that may be a bit of a crutch to get people to play alone, but it’s still very enjoyable. If you own a Wii you should also own Wii Sports Resort. It’s the next game that could sell millions of copies and get you playing your Wii again if you’ve drifted away. The improved controls, better graphics and sheer volume of content make the game easily worth the $50 price tag. The Motion Plus is just a bonus that comes along and gives you more enjoyment to a clearly fun game.
Final Score: 5/5