Wii Sports Resort Review
Friday, October 02, 2009 9:13 AM
Nintendo showcases its Wii Motion Plus with the follow up to Wii Sports, but does it live up to the hype?
The same benefits, the same deficiencies, the same charms and irritations. Wii Sport Resort presents no surprises whatsoever. But if you enjoyed Wii Sports, and it's hard to see how anyone wouldn't, then this will give you some more hours of frantic, furniture-ruining fun for your money.
Wii Sport, the Bafta award winning showcase game for the Wii console, changed gaming, in its own weird, kid-friendly way. It's been given a major upgrade here to function as a showcase for the Wii Motion Plus, a plug in to the old Wiiimote controller allowing you full 360 degree control of the actions on screen. Basically, it replicates everything your hand asks it to. That's a task the new software is eminently capable of fulfilling, and Wii Sport Resort shows off its abilities better than the other, more adult games around at the moment, like Tiger Woods 10 or Grand Slam tennis.
A collection of mini games tied together by their location on one of those clean, colourful islands Nintendo enjoys creating so much, you arrive on the location through a sky dive, which doubles up as an intro and title sequence. As exciting as it is, there are problems with the controls of the character as he falls through the air. It's an early warning that, thankfully, doesn't pertain to much of the gameplay on offer here, which is, in the main, fun, easy to play, and satisfying.
The air sports mini games are actually the weakest part of the package. Sky diving proper is a strange little game in which you gain points for linking up to other divers. It doesn't really work, but a plane flying level, in which you control the plane with a Wiimote in much the same way as you do the snowboard in boarding games, is hugely enjoyable and oddly relaxing.
A few games are updated from last time round, including bowling and golf, neither of which reveal any major improvements. Table tennis replaces tennis. It's a worthy successor to the best part of the original package, and works according to very similar engine. The learning curve of competence followed by endless rallies in which both players fail to find the killer edge, followed by mastery and extraordinary enjoyment, is exactly the same. It's horribly additive.
The real finds are archery, sword play and power cruising. All the games ask you to hold the Wiimote and Nunchuk as you would in real life. This works best in these three mini games. Archery sees you hold the Wiimote in front of you, aiming up, as you drag back the Nunchuck like the string. It's surprisingly satisfying and a pleasure to master.
Swordplay is the ideal way for two people to spend their time when back from the pub. There were moments there when my mind started to conclude it's what computer games were meant for, as I battered away at my friend. For a game that requires you only to block and hit, there's something slightly disconcerting about the fact you would merrily play it for hours on end.
Power cruising asks you to hold the Wiimote and Nunchuck as the handlebars of a jet ski as you power through hoops to a countdown. Unspeakably fun.
Cycling benefits from tactical decision making, although it's worth pointing out just how tiring it is to whirl your arms around like pedals the entire race. Get into any of the Wii Sports Resort games and you're likely to bump up your upper body strength no end. Your rider can easily tire, so the peddling needs to be kept to a sensible minimum much of the time, while you give up entirely during downhill stretches and save his energy for uphill slogs.
Playing with friends, we found this mini game instantly triggered our competitive instincts, predominantly because it didn't simply require us to endlessly hit the air with our imaginary swords.
Frisbee is persistently cited as the most enjoyable application of the Wii Motion Plus, but after playing this version (along with Frisbee-golf on Tiger Wood 10) I've to say I still don't get it. It is responsive, but I have a feeling some terrible childhood incident involving a frisbee occurred early in my life, and I'm now unable to cogently assess its use in Wii games. There's no other explanation. Everyone else seems to enjoy it. You probably will too. But I'm bored and annoyed by it, and by the pesky dog Nintendo sees fit to send after my throws in the mini game.
Far better is basketball, which sees you manically throw balls into a hoop while running around an empty court. Responsive, challenging, super-quick and tiring, its a worthy addition to the collection but nowhere near the league of power cruising or archery.
Finally, canoeing manages to make the best use of the Motion Plus, with the character exactly simulating your movements with the Wiimote. It is also the most boring. It's a characteristic of the sport of course, but the slow pace of the game, the infuriating unpredictability of some of the movements, and the desire to get back to the more satisfying games, quickly convinced me to go back to more engaging alternatives.
My hunch is that it's probably the most realistic replication of the sport its depicting, and that there'll be several players out there reading this and damning my childish, speed-obsessed ignorance. But there you go: too damn slow.
Graphically, you already know what you're dealing with here. There have been, as far as I can tell, no improvements at all. Nintendo appears to have totally given up on improving this aspect of things in these showcase releases. Fair enough. If they've managed to achieve these controls by casting graphics to one side they've done a good job nonethelss. If you bought this for the graphics you've made a terrible mistake.
But you didn't. You bought this for the controls, and the ability to play video games without your girlfriend threatening you with an all-evening argument. It will provide you with both these things. It will also let you hammer the hell out of your friends. And that, as you know, is worth its weight in gold. Enjoy.