Unless you bought your Wii used, it came with Nintendo’s Wii Sports, a game that brilliantly showcases the abilities of the Wii’s motion sensitive remote by letting players swing a virtual bat or a golf club with a sweep of that remote. It was so much fun that many people didn’t bother buying another game for months. But once you’ve played the sequel, Wii Sports Resort, you may never want to play Wii Sports again.
The Games: Table Tennis, Basketball, Archery and more
Designed to show off the Wii MotionPlus, an add-on attachment for the Wii remote that vastly improves its motion detection capabilities, Wii Sports Resort offers players a large selection of activities to choose from, including archery, basketball, canoeing and skydiving. Some are terrific, others not so much, but the overall package is first rate.
My favorite game in Resort is table tennis, which displays exactly what is special about the MotionPlus. Because it can read the exact angle of your remote, you can use your virtual paddle to put remarkable amounts of spin on the ball. Hit it at just the right angle and the ball will actually curve away from the table and then change trajectory to bounce past your opponent, something I don’t recall ever managing to do in a real ping pong game.
Basketball is also excellent. You can lead a team of three players to victory, dribbling by waving the remote up and down, blocking with an upward swoop of the remote and dunking with a satisfying forward hook. While it lacks the hectic pace of real basketball, mainly because every time you block a shot or steal a ball the ball must then be thrown in from the sidelines, it is tremendous fun.
Other interesting games include a sword game in which you are attacked by a parade of dueling opponents and an ingenious archery game in which the Wii remote becomes the bow and the nunchuk becomes the string; pull back the nunchuk, move the remote to aim then fire.
Two of the 12 sports of Resort are reworkings of selections from the original five games of Wii Sports. Bowling is well done, and the MotionPlus lets players put enough spin on the ball for a special mode in which you must roll the ball past obstacles. Golfing on the fairway in Resort is almost as good as it is in Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, although putting is less interesting, as all the putting greens are completely flat.
My favorites may not be your favorites. Perhaps you would prefer to play Frisbee golf or go wakeboarding, in which you are pulled across the water by a speed boat and can race into the boat’s wake to gain some air and do simple tricks. If you prefer, you can hold the remote like a toy airplane to make a virtual aircraft tour an island.
There are a few of Resort’s sports that I didn’t much care for. Riding a bike by using the nunchuk and remote as pedals was more exhausting than fun, and steering a canoe by using the remote as a paddle made my shoulders ache. Using the nunchuk/remote combo to steer a jet ski didn’t really make sense to me, since it looks to me like the handles of a jet ski would be a single unit rather than two detachable handles.
The Design: A Game That Fits You Like a Glove
It doesn’t matter if you don’t like a couple of Resort’s mini-games, because there are just so many. Each sport has several modes. Besides the parade of duelists, swordplay also lets you try and knock a single opponent out of an arena or slice objects thrown at you. If you get bored of Frisbee golf you can play Frisbee catch with a dog. Bowling includes a 100-pin version.
Not only is there a lot to do, but the game adjusts to your skill level. Each player has a cumulative score for each sport; every time you win, that score goes up, while it goes down each time you lose. The higher your score, the more challenging the game.
That score is visually represented by a graph, and the game has a line at the thousand point mark. I was curious to see if anything happened when you got to a thousand points, but I never managed it. I tried over and over in table tennis, once getting to 950, but my opponents would improve to the point where I would start losing, and my score floated from the 700s to the 900s without breaking a thousand.
As frustrating as that is, it is also part of what makes Resort such a first rate game, because you always have something to strive for.
The Conclusion: A Few Minor Flaws, But a Must-Have All the Same
This is not to say that Resort is perfect. I found the game’s insistence on slow-motion replays to be a big time waster, especially in basketball, which replays everything you do. And each game has its idiosyncrasies and annoyances. In table tennis, for example, the game would sometimes register an attempt to switch from backhand to forehand as an attempt to hit the ball, and every once in a while I would swing my remote and my avatar wouldn’t move a muscle. But things work right so much of the time that it’s easy to accept these shortcomings.
Wii Sports was arguably one of the best and worst things to ever happen to the Wii. It showed gamers what the console could do, but it also convinced every game publisher in the world that there was a fortune to be made in the mini-game business. As a game reviewer inundated with such games, I have grown to hate the very phrase “mini-game,” but Resort proves that the problem is not the genre itself but simply the poor execution that characterizes so many of these games.
Resort is what a mini-game collection should be, but once again, this is a double edged sword that will doubtless inspire dozens of mediocre, “MotionPlus enabled” mini-game collections. Don’t buy them; Wii Sports Resort is the only one you need.