Even those who despise Nintendo’s little white box and it’s wacky waggle control system, have to agree that the original Wii Sports was a great title. It was easy to pick up, fun to play and even though it was an original IP, there was something about it that was very Nintendo. It was the game that defined the system and that demonstrated motion control as a viable way to play games, one that the other software giants have been desperately looking to emulate.
The problem with Wii Sports however was it’s brevity. All of the sports (with the exception of boxing) were indeed a lot of fun, but the game lacked depth and with the absence of online multiplayer the game (and in a lot of cases the system) ended up in the back of closets or pushed under the sofa to collect dust. With the release of Wii Sports Resort (with the 3rd best opening week sales of any Wii game in Japan) it looks like the system might be finding it’s way back into a lot of living rooms.
Wii Sports Resort has the same look and feel as the original title, with it’s bright colour palette, simple characters, absence of major limbs and the complete lack of anything even remotely offensive. Again players can use their Miis to engage in a number of sports, all controlled with the Wii remote and nunchuck, but this time around with the added motion plus attachment which basically adds yaw or movement around a horizontal axis to the motion control. The directions are clear and easy to follow and the sound and animations have that peculiar Japanese cuteness to them.
Whereas the first game felt like a collection of sports randomly thrown together on a disc, this game aims to introduce a more coherent feel to the whole experience. Wii Sports Resort (as the title suggests) is set on a resort island with each individual sport being played in a specific area. There are tracks for cycling, basketball courts, a separate island with a number of golf courses and bizarrely a live volcano. The whole island can be explored by plane in the Air Sports section. The training exercises of the original have also been dropped in favour of a number of different activities that can be played within each sport, making for a much more cogent game.
This sequel also expands greatly on the number of sports that can be played. There are twelve altogether: Chambara (a casual form of Kendo), Wakeboarding, Frisbee, Archery, Basketball, Table Tennis, Golf, Bowling, Power Cruising, Canoeing, Cycling and Air Sports. That being said, Wii Sports Resort is a good reminder of how quantity is definitely not always synonymous with quality. Most of the sports are enjoyable to play once or twice, but players may find that a good number of the activities quickly lose their appeal. The sports that work best are those in which the motion controls emulate to a certain degree how the player would perform those actions in the real world, such as the Chambara, Table Tennis, Basketball, Archery, golf and bowling.
The Chambara is probably the strongest activity. Players face off on a raised platform and use their swords to knock opponents off. The activity requires a combination of swinging and blocking and is a lot of fun. The bowling and golf have both made a return and the motion plus gives the activities an extra layer of depth. The table tennis is basically a rehash of tennis from Wii Sports and has the same feel to the play, but with an increase in tempo. Again the motion plus allows for a greater variety of shots with a larger degree of spin. The basketball is fun and allows for small 3 on 3 games with the ability to pass and steal. It would have been nice to have seen a co-op mode included.
The weaker activities are mostly the non-ball games. The Canoeing controls are well implemented, but too much of a chore to be fun, the Cycling feels gimmicky and unnecessary, and the motion control for the Power Cruising and Wakeboarding lacks the immersive pull of some of the other sports. The ability to be able to fly around the island in the Air Sports section seems a little incongruous but provides some variety and is a good break from the more ferocious remote flailing of the other sports. The archery is really good and has some really nice gameplay mechanics, but with only 3 difficulty levels players will soon tire of firing arrows at the same targets.
In the end players will probably find themselves returning to just a small number of sports. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the number of activities and variety available in the game means that there will always be something for everyone. The motion plus adds an extra degree of realism to some of the sports, but is virtually unnoticeable in others. Also the Japanese version the game forces you to sit through an incredibly detailed and pointless tutorial on how to attach the motion plus peripheral to the remote. These, however are all minor quibbles and don’t detract noticeably from the overall experience. Overall the game is well made, easy to pick up and play and most importantly good fun, but whether people will still be playing the game a year from now, is hard to say.