Due to the novelty of motion controls and its role as pack-in title for the Nintendo Wii in North America, Wii Sports has been one of the biggest games of this generation, even though it is somewhat of a tech demo for gamers and developers to see what was possible on the system. It’s no surprise then that Wii Sports Resort would showcase what the Wii, in conjunction with the new Wii MotionPlus peripheral, would also act as somewhat of a tech demo. The major difference is that this game is available at retail for $50, and comes with a single MotionPlus accessory. Does the game have enough depth to warrant a purchase?
The short answer is “absolutely”, though this review will present that answer in much more detail. There are 12 games included with Wii Sports Resort after all, and while a few of them are questionable, most of them succeed, and a few of them are great fun that you will want to return to often. You can also think of the inclusion of the peripheral in two ways, depending on which helps you sleep at night in regards to your purchase: either you bought a $30 game with a $20 peripheral, or you bought a $50 game with a free one. I think that Wii Sports Resort has enough meat that it warrants the latter title, even if there are some issues that should have been ironed out.
July 26, 2009
Before diving into the games, let’s talk about the features. Wii Sports Resort features gameplay for 1-4 players, depending on the game, and covers a variety of sports and a few other activities as well. There’s a built-in achievement system, though you can only view these on your Wii Message Board–an achievement hub like the one used in Metroid Prime 3 or House of the Dead: Overkill would have been preferred, but this is the first Nintendo developed game with an achievement system as well, so at least it’s a step in the right direction. There are 12 games, but there are also various versions of those games; for example, when you beat the standard sword fighting, you can another two modes, or when you finish bowling there are also another two modes. This gives the game much more depth than its predecessor, and also presents some challenging play options for your more core players. This is a title that all but the most soulless of gamers should be able to at the least appreciate, though the inclusion of online play would have helped back that statement up further. If there is a Wii Sports 3, there needs to be online play.
Most of the games included in Wii Sports Resort are worth your continued time. Swordplay, Frisbee, Archery, Basketball, Table Tennis, the re-designed Golf and Bowling games, and Air Sports are all fun and have more depth than you may initially think they do to them. The clunkers are the ones that bring water into the equation, which is disappointing given how impressive the water physics and effects are–Wakeboarding, Power Cruising and Canoeing are all either boring or feel somewhat uninspired or unexplored. The only land sport that lacks in the fun factor is cycling.
Swordplay has almost true 1:1 motion controls, and if you swing the sword harder it will hit the object or opponent harder as well. You can attack from whatever angle you can move the Wii Remote in in reality, and blocking is as simple as pressing B and choosing a direction to block your opponent’s attacks from. It seems like a wagglefest, but the system has a lot of depth to it, as you will learn in the later stages of the game. The first is a simple one-on-one fight mode, American Gladiators style. Completing this allows you to play Speed Slice, which is a challenge where objects and food are thrown at you and your opponent, and whoever slices first in the correct direction earns a point. This is a fun diversion, but the best part of Sword Play has to be the Showdown mode, where you have 10 stages that increase in difficulty. You are on rails, fighting waves of opponents, some with more health than others, better tactics and armor. You can take three hits, so you can’t just run around flailing; you need to pick your spots for attacks, and make sure that they are aimed at vulnerable points. You also need to be sure to block to throw your opponents off balance and open up these vulnerable spots. While this mode can turn into somewhat of a workout, it’s very satisfying to reproduce 1:1 motions with a sword, and just makes you realize how much LucasArts needs to jump on this MotionPlus bandwagon to bring us a proper lightsaber experience.
Frisbee has two modes, one where you toss a frisbee to a dog on the beach, trying to score within a target range, and another where you play frisbee golf. Resort’s Frisbee Golf is a bit more forgiving than Tiger Woods’, but I would prefer to play that mode over the actual golf included in this game as well. This is a great multiplayer mode, but also showcases just how much MotionPlus can enhance your motions and movements. You can get some very fine tuned motions out of frisbee in order to boost your accuracy and distance.
Archery has you using the nunchuk as the hand that pulls back the arrow, and uses the Wii Remote as the bow. It’s satisfying to have this much control over where the shot goes, and as you practice you will see that your movements matter a great deal; lots of practice means much more accurate shooting, and you will need that when you tackle the more difficult stages. You can also pull off shoots quickly once you get used to it; I wouldn’t mind seeing a slightly modified version of this in the next Zelda, rather than straight IR pointing.