There are certain video game moments that I would give just about anything to experience again for the first time. Playing Mario 64 and experiencing 3D platforming at its finest, 4-player Rock Band, and right near the top of the list, Wii Sports Bowling. It was the first thing my roommates and I tried when the Wii was opened and it was hard to justify playing anything else. It’s almost three years later and it’s still fun. I was highly looking forward to Wii Sports Resort, not just because it looked genuinely fun but because I was hoping it would give me another one of those experiences to add to the list.
Although nothing in Resort quite captured that initial bowling feeling (let’s face it that was just as much about experiencing the system for the first time as well) I can say this game is a hell of a lot of fun. Sure it won’t win any awards for graphics, music, or whatever. But it’s the gameplay that matters with something like this and Resort delivers….with a vengeance!
Before we go into the specifics it should be mentioned that this is the first Wii game that actually requires the use of Wii Motion Plus. The game comes packaged with one but in order to do any multiplayer at all you have to go out and spend the money on a second one. I can see how this would irritate a lot of people but thankfully we already had one from our Tiger Woods ’10 bundle.
Tiger Woods already made me a believer in Motion Plus but Wii Sports Resort solidifies it. It’s going to be damn hard to go back to games that don’t use it now. Sure occasionally you have to re-calibrate it but it doesn’t really take anything away from the experience. I am really looking forward to seeing what developers do with this hardware in the future.
Originally I was going to do a sport-by-sport breakdown of the game but that would take way too long. Instead I’m going to break it all down into categories: starting with the sports that stand-out as the best, then the ones that are decent fun, followed by the ones that simply aren’t that terrific.
Let’s start with a high note and discuss the great sports! The immediate standout, and the one everyone seems the most excited about, is Swordplay. Rest assured everyone, Swordplay is just as fun as you imagine it is. The 1:1 feels great and damn is it ever satisfying to smack your opponents around. Each of the three Swordplay modes (Duel, Speed Slice and Showdown) is a great deal of fun, and have a surprisingly large amount of depth to them. This is our most played event at the moment and I really don’t see that changing.
Coming in at a close second though is Archery. The mechanics work very well and as with Swordplay, are tremendously satisfying. I’ve heard this is the game people are getting addicted to and it’s not hard to see why. There’s this overwhelming desire to master this sport and you will keep at it until you do. However once you get to the point where the target is moving back and forth behind obstacles while your arrow struggles against strong wind, that is not going to be an easy task.
Rounding out my top three favourite sports is Table Tennis. There’s little more to say about it other than that the controls feel great and it’s actually a little amazing how much depth there is to this. You have an insane amount of control over how you can hit the ball. This is another one that will definitely keep people coming back for a long time.
Ok so this is still turning into the sport-by-sport review I swore I would avoid but that’s going to change. However I should give special mention to the Air Sports. They’re good fun but the main reason I enjoy them is because this could be the closest we ever get to a new Pilotwings game. I really hope I’m wrong about that but that’s how it’s starting to look.
Golf and Bowling make a return from the first game, and if you liked them in Wii Sports then you’ll like them here. The controls do feel improved with Motion Plus, which adds some freshness to these events. However even if it stayed exactly the same, Bowling would always be fantastic.
Basketball, Wakeboarding, Canoeing, Power Cruising and Frisbee all fall into the good/middle category. They don’t standout as the best, but they certainly aren’t bad. Free throws in Basketball can be quite fun, I’m just terrible at it. The 3-on-3 pickup is simplified, but enjoyable. Wakeboarding is simple – which isn’t a bad thing – but due to its lack of depth I just don’t see myself revisiting this event all too often. Canoeing is actually exhausting and with 4 players can get really intense and lead to lots of panic and shouting. What starts as a simple argument over "why aren't you paddling to the left?!" will quickly lead to punching and tears. Canoeing solo = not nearly as fun.
Power Cruising gets extra marks for reminding me of Wave Race (for god’s sake Nintendo would you bring these franchises back?!) and Frisbee, while fun, loses some of the impact after playing frisbee golf to death in Tiger Woods ’10. However if you have not played Tiger Woods, then you should definitely enjoy this event as the mechanics are fantastic. There we go, five sports in two paragraphs, much more productive.
Sadly that brings us to the final category, the games that simply aren’t that good. If you’ve been keeping track, there is only one game that hasn’t been talked about yet. Poor Cycling, you go at the very bottom. I’m not sure who thought using the remote and nunchuk to simulate peddling a bike would be a good idea, but here it is. The steering mechanics and everything work fine, it’s simply not very fun. Out of all 12 events, this is easily the one I will be playing the least.
Each one of the main events features several different modes, and each one of those modes has five different “stamps” that you can earn by accomplishing specific tasks. Think of them as the Wii Sports version of achievements. Some of them are pretty easy (hit a single bulls eye in archery), while some of them are going to take me forever (sink all 25 basketballs in free throw with 15 seconds remaining on the clock – that’s like a nightmare to me). So there is a lot of replay value here.
Overall, Wii Sports Resort is a ton of fun. It’s not amazing and not “oh my god, this is the best game ever!!!” material, but it is a great time, especially if you have a group of people to play against. Anyone skeptic of spending the money (which seems to be a lot of people) I say do it. It's a game you'll keep going back to for a long time to come.