By Meowayne 36 Comments
It is both sad and awesome that now, about four years after I described to a friend what we believed (or even: were led to believe) the new Nintendo console would control like, we actually get it. Because, and I'm going to spoil the ending of this way too long article now, playing Wii Sports Resort Swordplay alone is as eye opening and amazing as playing Mario64 for the first time, leaving Midgar, or battling your first colossus. It is just that great.
What follows are some thoughts to each of the games. I have played 6-7 hours so far, single-player only. There are several modes that are only available to multiple players, and some games that I imagine are only really good when played against human opponents. Hence: Half a review.
Skydiving was a surprise, because it's actually a very nicely done, fun game. You use the airflow and the MotionPlus tilt to control your Mii, freefalling towards Wuhu Island. What you actually do, though, is to try and grab as many fellow Miis as possible while a timer of 3-4 seconds counts down. Every Mii you reach adds a second to the timer, so you string together combos by flowing through the air as quckly and precise as you can. What counts to your ultimate score, however, is not the number of people you reach: When the timer runs down, a photo is taken. How many people's faces are seen on all the fotos constitutes your score. After every photo, everyone lets go and the timer starts anew. So in the last second, you have to decide whether you go for it and try to reach another Mii (adding a second), or position your group so that as many faces as possibles can be seen for the photo. At the end there’s the opportunity for a large group shot, the parachutes open, the end. You get to see the photos and your score.
Of course, this will probably lose its drive after you've done it a few times (I have had three or four rounds so far), and there's a multiplayer component that I could not try. It introduces the player to the MotionPlus dual-axis tilt and its incredible precision. All it uses is rotation and as such, a similar thing, though less responsive and precice, could have been done with the regular 'mote.
I never got into bowling in Wii Sports, it seemed unresponsive and I never got the ball where I wanted it to go. Motion Plus, of course, shows how it should have been from the beginning. Not much more can be said about it here, your throw is read exactly, and the game is similar to its predecessor, with the exception that you don't let go of the B button to throw the ball (I think you can turn that back on, but I don't know how), and that there's an additional, third mode, where there are obstacles on the lane you have to work around by adding spin to the ball and such.
EDIT: Ball release by button release can be turned on in a menu I had not discovered. All is well!
See above. Golf is as it should have been from the beginning, with rotational information added to the reading of your swing; Golf and swordplay are the games with the most content in this collection, Golf especially has a lot of holes to play (this time scattered around the Island) and I heard it offers a lot of content for fans of the sport (which I am not). Plus, there's disc golf, but that is found under "frisbee".
Basketball I find absolutely pointless. You pick up the ball with B and then do a throwing motion which determines the basketball's path. Cool, in theory, for games like Boom Blox, but without the actual weight and feeling of the ball, doing a throwing motion over your head to hit the basket is neither pleasant nor particularly intuitive. I have heard of people enjoying this very much (because, yes, the controls work very well and hitting the basket required actual throwing skill), but I just don't see it. On top of the just-throwing-balls, theres the actual "game" mode with teams of four, but that basically consists of throwing the ball once or twice to your teammates (by button presses, not by motion), and then take a shot at the basket. Once one team attempts to hit the basket, the game restarts. Dumb. And not very entertaining. Perhaps this is one of the games that benefit from multiplayer, but.. I doubt it.
Seems very tacked on. There can't have been mouch thought put into it. Definatly the worst game of the compilation.
FRISBEE and DISC GOLF
Frisbee would have been cool if I didn't play Tiger Woods 10 before. Compared to the smooth, intuitive, precice throwing that Tiger Woods displayed, WSR Frisbee just sucks. A huge part of that is that you do not control when to let go of the disc. That is done automatically. Which I cannot understand, at all, because that prevents any kind of planning ahead or timing or aiming your throw. I don't get it. This is true for both frisbee (hitting a certain spot and balloons in between) and disc golf modes, both of which are nicely done and have good stages, it's just... If I cannot influence when to let go of the disc when throwing, I don't see the point of fancy 1:1 motion controls. Perhaps this can be turned off and I just don't know how.
EDIT: Disc release by button release can be turned On in a menu I just found. It makes the game significantly better, more fun, and very much enjoyable. It is still inferior to Tiger Woods which is near perfect, but it's now very usable and very satisfying. Disc Golf is awesome!
Table tennis, control-wise, is sort of the opposite to Grand Slam Tennis. The racket is very precisely mapped to your hand, very much like the sword, and you hit the ball by actually positioning it properly with the racket. However, once the ball is hit, it takes a very guided, very limited path. Unlike GST, where your motion has little influence on the character animation but the ball mercilessly goes where you virtually hit it, Wii Sports Resort Table Tennis balls have sort of a life of their own. You do influence direction, and spin, but it is very appearant that the game "helps" with keeping it on the table, and doesn't let you position it on the other side as much as the other M+ tennis games. Most probably, people who have not played GST or VT09 will never notice that. At the end, the game is very fun, but comparably shallow. There's two modes (that I know of), normal matches and "ball machine", and I have not spent as much time with it as I thought I would.
Naturally, table tennis will be awesome in Multiplayer with a real human opponent. That's where Table Tennis will shine beyond measure. But in single-player, it's not really that mind-blowing.
It's a waverace demo. I don't think it has MotionPlus functionality. We've seen steering by Wiimote-Nunchuck-steering-wheel-position before, and this is exactly that. Travel the waves through rings. The multiplayer is said to be very cool but, again, I have not been able to test that, so far.
You hold the Wiimote like you'd hold the handlebar and then steer yourself through the waves, doing jumps and stunts. With every successful jump, the ride gets faster. Mess up, and everything will slow down. The trick is to position yourself so that your landing is as level as possible. Not a surprise in both content and controls, and ultimately forgettable. The slowing down in particular is pretty annoying, as most of the time you don't really see what exactly you did wrong. Wakeboarding is very, very similar to Excitetruck and Excitebots and one of the games that I don't think use MotionPlus to any noticable improvement.
Canoeing is fun. Very much. It's definatly a MotionPlus game: You hold the mote like a paddle and then just.. go. The point of the single player game is to get to the goal in the shortest possible time, avoiding obstacles and fighting the water. There are three or four different courses with different challenges each. On top of that, there's a multiplayer mode where it's all about syncing with the other players, and I'm told it is one of the best WSR multiplayer experiences, but I couldn't test it myself. Playing it, however, I notice that the paddle controls are almost completely tilt-based. You cannot actually decide how far in you want to thrust it into the water. You cannot actually play around with the paddle, hold it over your head or anything like that.
But we know from Archery that the device can detect non-rotational motion, right? After all, you control the bow by holding it parallel to the TV and then move it left and right and up and down, right? Well, we'll see about that when we get to archery.
Still, Canoeing is awesome, and its one of the games showing very clearly how much superior MotionPlus is to the previous device. It's scary how precise and reliable the consoles and the gesture/movement recognition are.
I wondered how they wanted to pull of cycling when I saw it in the trailers. It works like this: You hold your hands like you were steering a bicycle. To accelerate, you move them up and down one after the other, like you do with your legs. To break, you pull the breaks (B+Z buttons). And, er, to ring the bell, you flick the analog stick (I laughed when I found that out). Those of you who have played the chocobo races in Final Fantasy VII know what Wii Sports Resort Bicycling is like: Racing others through a course, keeping an eye on your stamina meter. To steer, you steer. That's the advantage of MotionPlus, I suppose, that it retains accurate steering even when you are pedaling.
There's different courses and a multiplayer race mode. I suppose the game benefits from the multiplayer. I didn't have that much fun with it, simply because the controls are as awkward as they sound. They work well, but they're just not entertaining.
At first sight, the flying of the plane over Wuhu Island seems exceptionally boring and pointless. You hold the plane like a papercraft plane, you can get speed boosts by doing a thrusting motion, you can shoot little blue things but that doesn't seem to have any effect on anyone, and you can send a signal rocket into the sky, whatever for. All around the island, symbols can be found which give you some kind of information about the locations when you fly through them. You have five minutes per game to fly around. And that's it, basically. The controls work like you imagine them to be, and a similar game would have been possible with the regular wiimote, though less precice, quick and reliable, and with fewer stunt possibilities.
However, you can get some hours out of this game if you like the collecting of stuff that can be found in, for example, platformers. There are 80 Info-symbols hidden all around the island, sometimes on places very hard to get to without crashing, and the more you collect, the more functions you unlock. Discover 10 symbols and balloons will start appearing on the island, on the vehicles, or in the hands of the many Miis that populate it. You can pop them by flying through them or by shooting them. The number of balloons you pop in each game is counted, but I have not yet discovered what that is for. With more symbols discovered, you get better weapons, more stuff appears on the map, you can play during the evening or in the night (complete with fireworks), or your plane will house more pilots.
The map is huge, and you will not discover more than 5-10 symbols each game. I have found ~60 so far, and I plan to find them all. It's interesting to see what else will change and be available. It certainly is a "non-game", and it's not the most astonishing showcase for MotionPlus, but it's more entertaining than I thought it would be.
SWORDPLAY: DUELS, CUTTING STUFF and BATTLE MODE
Ah. Swordplay. Probably the reason many are going to get the game, and the discipline in which MotionPlus has to prove itself worthy. There are three modes: Duels in single- and multiplayer, where you have to hit your opponent into the surrounding water by blocking attacks and landing them yourself; "Cutting stuff" (SP and MP) where you have to be quick and precise in cutting things in half, and "battle mode", where you're given three hearts and have to survive hordes and hordes of opponents of different skill level during the course of some 15 levels. Battle is single-player only, I think.
All three modes are excellent.
But you probably want to hear about the controls. Swordfighting is lag-free, glitch-free, precise and unbelievably fun and satisfying. Unless you're flailing your arms around like crazy, every slash you perform is transfered 1:1 with angle, path and intensity into the game. Want to hit the opponents foot? Do so. Want to hit his knee? Do so. Want to hit his ear? Do so. Want to fake a left attack, then go for the chest? Do so. Holding B gets you into block mode, where you have to watch the opponent carefully to block his attacks: By blocking his sword's path with yours. You will look like the guy in the Red Steel 2 teaser, playing Wii Sports Resort Swordfighting. It is really that awesome, and it works 99% of the time.
Duels are strategic battles that can get really difficult and exhausting once you reach Pro-Level. Imagine yourself doing a cool swordfight. That's what WSR Sword Duals feel like. Easily and without a doubt the best part of the game. Worth the price alone. A fantastic videogame expierience everyone should have.
Cutting virtual stuff up by 1:1 slashes is amazing, but of course something that is better played against a human opponent instead of the AI.
I did say your slashes are 1:1. That is not true for the entire control scheme. For example, you hold the sword parallel to the floor in front of your face. No problem. Then you keep the wiimote parallel to the floor, but move it down to your chest. In-game, nothing changes. MotionPlus detects every little rotation/tilt based input with 100% precision, even if you move your hands only slightly - But non-rotational motion it cannot and does not detect. At all. But what about archery then?
Archery was the #1 argument when it came to comparing MotionPlus to Sony's ball-on-a-stick. People were holding the Bow out in front of them, moving it left and right and up and down to change the aiming. Clearly a non-rotational motion. Clearly, MotionPlus was able to detect the Wiimotes position to the ground, and the player, and the TV, right?
Wrong. MotionPlus knows shit about where the ground is, where the player is, or where the TV is. It has no space-awareness, at all. All it does is detect/record rotation and movement speed. I realized that when I found out that even the bow is controlled by rotation. Hold your arm out and move it left and right. Whatever you hold in your hand is inevitably rotated slightly.
MotionPlus detects that motion and transfers it to the archery aim. You can aim by holding your arm still and tilting the Wiimote. That would be awkward because it is extremely sensitive, but it shows how it works - Not by knowing where the Wiimote is in relation to the ground, but by rotation about its own axis. Now that doesn't change the fact that Wii Sports Resort archery or swordplay or canoeing are 100% reliable, sensitive, precise and awesome - But I predict that a number of people will be disappointed once they find out what MotionPlus can't do.
MotionPlus is able to record what movement has been done by analyzing rotation, direction and speed. Always relative to its previous position. It does that perfectly, and that will allow for some great things, if devs decide to utlize it.
What it does not do and never will is deliver 1:1 information as to where the Wiimote is at any time in relation to the player or the room. Many of the things shown in Sonys Motion Controller demo it will never be able to do, period. It is a great addition for a great price that will perfect gesture recognition and will enable awesome emulated 1:1 mechanics in games, such as the swordfighting or archery in this one, but it is not a revolution.
As for Wii Sports Resort itself, get it. It's cheap and offers a lot of value and fun in singleplayer, and should be spectacular in multiplayer. It has a lot more going on than Wii Sports, and it requires you to perform good at certain things to unlock others: Most games have unlockable modes and levels, and it will take you a while to even have seen everything. I myself, 7 hours in, have not seen anything, nor understood everything because the game is entirely in Japanese. Wii Sports Resort is a great game, and a showcase for both players and devs about what should now be possible. I really hope devs take that opportunity.
This will be you. Don't try to fight it.