The original Wii Sports was a fantastic introduction to the concept of motion controls. Think about it: the Wii Remote was a radical departure from established video game controllers and without the butter smooth motion control experience of Wii Sports to light the way, the whole experiment could have easily back-fired. Of course, the game is also ridiculously fun and still stands as the quintessential Nintendo Wii experience.
Which is why a retail sequel makes so much sense. But rather than being just a simple follow up, Wii Sports Resort faces its own monumental task: familiarise Wii owners with the new MotionPlus accessory and convince them to buy yet another Wii Remote attachment. Easy enough, right?
Wii Sports Resort: Like the real thing
Actually it is because, much like its predecessor, Wii Sports Resort makes it largely effortless for anyone to jump into one of the 12 included mini-games, and although every single game doesn't justify the use (or requirement) of the included MotionPlus adaptor, the ones that do offer a very positive advertisement for not only the accessory but the potential future of gaming on the Wii.
What makes MotionPlus so compelling is the way it enhances each mini-game; at its best, it allows you to forget that you're simply holding a piece of plastic. Each slight movement of the Wii Remote is replicated on screen, whether it's a table tennis paddle or sword in your hand. The added accuracy lets you focus on the actual motions and it adds a nice touch of realism to the experience.
Wii Sports Resort: WYSIWYG
Of course, you'll still have to overcome the urge to focus on the visual representation of your actions and instead simply play like you would in real life. Resort's visual style may be eye pleasing, but following the on-screen images isn't always the best way to play.
For instance, while playing Frisbee Dog, I found myself putting up much better scores when I stopped focusing on the angle at which my Mii was holding the disc and simply motioned like I was tossing the real thing.
The same held true in Table Tennis, an improved version of the mini-game seen in Wii Play: the less I worried about the on-screen position of the paddle, the better I seemed to play. It works against many of the traditional notions we have about playing games, but it proves to be a very intuitive way to play, and both aforementioned mini-games are among the best in the package.
Wii Sports Resort: Slice and Dice
Also of note are the Swordplay games. Wanna-be Jedis should be excited as Resort finally proves that a lightsaber-focused Star Wars game (or any sword-based game, for that matter) is a real possibility on the Wii. Split between duels, adventure-like Showdown stages (in which you take down waves of foes), and a Speed Slice mode where you chop up everyday items as indicated by the screen, these games finally give you nearly full 1:1 control.
It's no exaggeration to say that the standard for melee-based action games has been set and any future game that doesn't support MotionPlus will immediately be seen as a disappointment.
The MotionPlus attachment also improves the Bowling and Golf events, both of which are holdovers from the first game. The attachment gives you greater control over the spin and release of your bowling ball, making an already sharp mini-game even better. Golf has a more robust feel this time around, with nine new holes (for 18 total) and additional shot options, though it's still tough to gauge the strength of your shot, especially while putting or chipping in.
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Wii Sports Resort: MotionMinus
Many of the other games make less of an impact, whether due to uninteresting gameplay or the lack of MotionPlus implementation. Wakeboarding and Power Cruising (jet ski racing) are both decent water-based events, but neither offers a particularly compelling experience. The Basketball games lack a realistic throwing motion, but the Three-Point Contest remains a decent diversion; the Pickup Game mode is just a poorly realised imitation of the real thing, however.
The Air Sports (skydiving and sightseeing/dueling in airplanes) are pleasant, relaxing counterparts to the more active events, but the remaining games, Cycling and Canoeing, both come across as Wii Fit castoffs, with constant, tiring motions and lengthy challenges.
As with its predecessor, Wii Sports Resort is best experienced with local pals (up to four players in most games), though the score-based challenges mean events like bowling, archery, and Frisbee Dog hold up well with repeated solo play.
Still, it's tough to justify the lack of online play modes or even leaderboards, especially since the game has some online implementation via the excellent option to automatically download top user-created Miis from the Check Mii Out channel for opponents and bystanders. This alone is enough to ding the overall score.
Wii Sports Resort: Staycation
But even without that crucial feature, Wii Sports Resort still feels like an accomplishment, not only because it offers a fun and accessible experience built around the MotionPlus attachment, but because it may very well renew optimism in those jaded by the lacklustre motion controls seen over the last couple years. It's a very strong follow-up to the original and I can only hope that upcoming titles will build on the momentum that Resort has generated.
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Wii Sports Resort: Specs
- Nintendo Wii
- Nintendo Wii
Although time will tell whether it achieves the same phenomenal success of the original, Wii Sports Resort has the great same mix of innovation and accessibility. Much like how you marveled at the first swing of the bat in Wii Sports, tossing your first frisbee or shooting your first arrow will be just as fun as it is memorable. It's not perfect, but it is an awesome tech showcase and a damned fun game.