That game that comes with the Wii Motion Plus.
More than the prominence of Miis as playable avatars, the paper-boxed package that comes with a peripheral (in this case, the Wii Motion Plus inside a rubber sleeve), the inevitably ridiculous amount of sales with the subsequent news stories that will detail how it is (and probably will be) the Wii’s best holiday seller, and the bright and familiar wheel of
tech demos mini-games that show off the peripheral, Wii Sports Resort reminds me of Wii Sports due to one source of embarrassment: a sore back. That’s what happens when you play one hundred seventy frames of bowling with a Wii-mote as if it were a shiny, round counterweight. In other words, don’t be like me.
[image1]Just like its predecessor, Wii Sports Resort is a casual, party-friendly collection of pseudo-sports, emphasis on the "casual", that is supposed to be simple enough for little Timmy and grandpa to start swinging and have fun without knowing much else. On the flip side, it’s also supposed to be an instructional and hopefully inspirational video for developers on how to make the bloody Wii motion-sensing thingamajig work correctly, let alone how to make mini-game collections, err, good. It’s the politest underhanded hand gesture ever (and hopefully it registers).
By relating a motion with the Wii-mote to a real-life motion that is done in a sport, usually by having the Wii-mote act like a handle or grip of some virtual equipment, the dozen mini-games set in the fictional Wuhu Island more or less succeed. The assorted list of new and old activities (get ready for it) – Air Sports, Archery, Basketball, Bowling, Canoeing, Cycling, Frisbee, Golf, Power Cruising, Swordplay, Table Tennis, and Wakeboarding – is concise enough that each of them are focused, yet they have the capacity for breadth in the form of variant modes.
Archery and Swordplay comprise the best mini-games (Frisbee Dog is just adorable) not just for being new, but for also clearly showcasing the increased sensitivity and accuracy of the Wii Motion Plus. That’s a slight overstatement for Archery, as it wouldn’t be difficult to point and shoot with the regular old Wii-mote, but Swordplay is exceptional. Just moving your sword around in tandem with the new Wii-mote might hypnotize you while you’re in a duel on a circular platform fifty feet above water. Again, don’t be like me.
[image2]Most of the other mini-games are generally what you expect – whether you’re skydiving, dribbling, tossing, steering, putting, spinning, rolling, shooting, or whacking (someone please cue the health warnings before we get to the fu… you know). The Wii Motion Plus can detect the full range of motions, and even though calibration mishaps occur, there’s almost always a way to reset the sensing system.
However, more than a few mini-games don’t measure up, even when placed against the standards for "casual" titles, which have the unfortunate reputation of being dumbed down for the sake of accessibility. Wakeboarding has the difficulty of not always being able to follow the wave which you launch off of, because the camera slides left and right too widely. Canoeing is realistic in that you paddle slowly across a lake in a single-manned boat, as you would in real life, but paddling a hundred or so yards without much speed just isn’t exciting. And Frisbee Golf doesn’t give you enough frisbees with different yardages to get you to the hole accurately.
Moreover, Wii Sports Resort continues a nagging problem from its predecessor. Sometimes, it doesn’t allow you to completely control your avatar – that is, the character moves back and forth, left and right, automatically. Of course, that’s fine for beginners and players who don’t want to be bogged down by an additional control scheme, but my guess is that most players want to have full control over their character – being able to move around the platform in Swordplay, to turn left and right in Cycling without having the character turn by default as if it was fighting with you, to dribble around the court in Basketball, and to shift between the forehand and backhand side in Table Tennis. It’s understandable that the developers want to have players, no matter their experience level, to play with the same controls, but handholding players by force under the reason of "casual" is just lazy design.
[image3]Playing the game solo also doesn’t compare to playing it with friends and family (or strangers), a flaw that could have been partially mitigated if the
Achievements Trophies Stamps system was made more transparent. No one in their right mind should like Achievement and Trophy lists that are completely secret, but that’s what the Stamps system does. It hides all the goals that you need to achieve to earn each Stamp. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be any point to collecting Stamps; they don’t unlock anything or reveal any special goodies, so they feel like an empty reward, Certificates of Participation written on digital paper.
But as a spearhead for multiplayer
madness kindness, Wii Sports Resort is yet another Nintendo outing that brings everyone together… to the tune of an additional $75 for three Wii Motion Pluses (on top of the $50 for Wii Sports Resort and the packaged Wii Motion Plus). So the inevitable question is whether you think $125 (perhaps more for additional Nunchuks) is a price that is worth the party, which will last for as long as a non-addictive but family-friendly casual game, much like the original Wii Sports.
In fact, just follow through with your feelings on Wii Sports and you’ll be happy. None of the mini-games will make you want to come back to it unless you have enough people around who want to play local multiplayer and aren’t in the mood for perfectly fine Nintendo alternatives like Super Smash Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii, Wii Play, and Mario Party 8. Wii Sports Resort fits into the rotation of party games, but it has the breezy weakness of being lost in the shuffle.