Packed with Nintendo's new MotionPlus add-on, Wii Sports Resort delivers a dozen new family-friendly, Mii-sporting games to Nintendo's Wii console. But is this one mini-game collection too many?
First there was Wii Sports and then came Wii Play, which sweetened the deal with a free remote. Now we have Wii Sports Resort which comes with a whole new piece of technology and a chance to play Swordplay, Wakeboarding, Archery, Frisbee, Basketball, Power Cruising, Cycling, Golf, Table Tennis, Bowling, Canoeing and Air Sports.
Are the games a new enough experience to make Wii Sports Resort worth picking up or is this just a glorified accessory?
Sword and Archery: My two favorite games in the collection are Swordplay and Archery. In Swordplay you swing the remote like a sword, holding the B button to block in four directions, or swing in the same directions to attack. It sounds simple but can make for some pretty intense battles. The mode includes two-player duels, and a speed slicing contest, but my favorite is the showdown which pits a player against a horde of enemy Mii as you work your way along a map. The game includes ten maps, which can then be played in reverse. While Archery only includes one mode, there are three difficulty settings. To play righties hold their remote in their left hand and the nunchuk in the right and then pull back the nunchuk like it's the string and release the Z button to fire. The object is to hit distant, sometimes moving or occasionally blocked targets. The sensitivity of the controls make the game equal parts difficult and rewarding.
Air Sports: Air Sports has you hold the remote like a paper airplay and guide it around to either control a skydiving Mii or a plane. This sport is broken down into three modes: Skydiving, Island Flyover and Dogfight. Skydiving is pretty straight forward, and a little dull. The Island Flyover essentially lets you practice flying a plane while collecting site-seeing points. The real fun in this mode is Dogfighting, where you and a friend fly around the island with balloons in tow, trying to blast away each others balloons away to win. The game is responsive enough to make this quite a bit of fun.
Table Tennis and Bowling: Both of these sports offer enough nuance to make competition fun. In Table Tennis, you play against a Wii-controlled Mii or a friend in the classic paddle game. The controls are fairly similar to the original Wii Sports Tennis, though this time around the game can sense the angle of your paddle, meaning you can put some pretty wicked spin on the ball. Bowling is also like the original, though now with the addition of MotionPlus players will feel like they have a bit more control of the ball's spin. The inclusion of an easier to unlock version of a 100-pin game mode, adds just enough to Bowling to make it worth playing again.
Cycling: In Cycling, your hold your remote and nunchuk as if they were the handles of a bike and then take turns sort of swinging them down and up as if they were pedals. To steer, you tilt both controllers back and forth. The sport includes one or two player road races against a pack of Mii and a head-to-head two-player race. The game is a bit simple, but when you factor in drafting, and the fact that you can tire out and have to pace yourself, it makes the game an amusing diversion.
Frisbee: I wasn't a fan of Frisbee initially. To play you hold your remote like a Frisbee and snap it like your throwing the disc. Then a dog runs and catches it. The object is to make it as close to the glowing circle as possible. But, once you play Frisbee Dog you unlock Frisbee Golf which lets you play with up to four players on the game's golf courses with three discs. Plenty of fun here and expect lots of practice to perfect your throw.
Basketball: Basketball was another game that didn't really catch my interest initially. You play by swinging the remote down, pushing the B button and then pulling up the remote and making a shooting motion. The object is to sink as many baskets as you can in the time limit from the different positions. But, once you play the 3-point contest mode it unlocks the pick-up game. In the one to two-player pick-up game you control three Mii as you try to out dribble, pass and shoot. And yes, there are Mii slam dunks. The controls are fairly rudimentary, relying heavily on button pushes and motion (you don't ever actually control the Mii's movement) but it's a ton of fun, and dunking on someone with a Mii is hilarious.
Constant Calibration: Constant may be a bit of an overstatement, but as you move between sports there will be plenty of times when the game tells you to put the controller on a flat surface for a few seconds so it can recalibrate. The game also has the option to pause at any time so you can do this manually. I think this calibration paranoia is more about being overly careful that the experience always delivers, but it can get annoying at times. I was interested to discover that there is an option in the game to let it also use the Sensor Bar to help refine the motion control detection.
Golf: This feels as phoned in as it likely was. The experience really hasn't changed much at all from the one you find on Wii Sports. Sure, it can better detect hooks and slices, but no extra modes and no bells and whistles makes for a pretty mundane experience.
Water Sports: Most of Wii Sports Resort's dozen games deliver, but Canoeing, Power Cruising and Wakeboarding all felt a bit wet behind the ears. In Canoeing you use the remote as a paddle, working your way along a water course either against a clock or a friend. The mode felt more like a workout than fun. Power Cruising should have been a no-brainer, but the controls are awkward, and the Mii version of a Jet Ski underpowered. Lacking any real opportunity to do tricks, the races are a bit boring. Wakeboarding has you hold the remote sideways and use it to tilt your Mii back and forth across the water, hitting the wake of the boat pulling you to jump. With the tricks automated, the game boils down to keeping the remote level at the right time.
Single MotionPlus Add-On: The game ships with a single Wii MotionPlus accessory, but to play any of those multiplayer games you're going to need two or more MotionPlus controllers. Not deal breaking, but a little disappointing.
MotionPlus works, and it works well. If nothing else, the games of Wii Sports Resort make that abundantly clear. This is the promise of the Wii remote finally delivered. Now lets see what third-party developers can do with it.
With a dozen sports and a total of two dozen ways to play them, Wii Sports Resort packs in the play with mostly fun games. You'd think that Wii Sports and Wii Play would have exhausted the minigame catalog for the Wii, but these mostly new games are a worthwhile addition to anyone's Wii. Even without the MotionPlus add-on, Wii Sports Resort is a must-have, must-play for anyone wanting to get the most out of their Nintendo console.
Wii Sports Resort was developed by Nintendo EAD and published by Nintendo for the Wii on July 26. Retails for $49.99 USD. Played all games and game modes both alone and with my son.
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