A fantastic example of how good the Wii and Wii MotionPlus can be
When I went out and bought Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10, I was more excited for the Wii MotionPlus inside than I was for the actual game. I knew that golf wasn’t my favorite game genre, but hoped that the great controls, stunning realism and feature set would in the end be worth it. After all, the game’s $40 when you take into account the WM+ being included. When I began to play the game itself, I couldn’t find any real flaws with it, and I still enjoy playing it today, but it isn’t the most fun I’ve ever had. It’s very real, but not an amazingly great time. Hoping to find some mindless fun, I invested in Wii Sports Resort with another MotionPlus inside. While the fun I found wasn’t exactly mindless, (there’s a fair amount of skill needed in several minigames), it was a lot more enjoyable to me than Tiger 10 ever was.
When you play Wii Sports Resort for the first time, you’ll see a random Mii saved on your console getting ready to jump from a plane. It’s interesting to see story-driven opening in this sort of game. As you jump out, you realize that your Mii will tilt exactly how you hold your controller. At one point a transparent overlay of the Wii Remote comes on the screen, showing just how precise it is. Nintendo is proud of the WM+, and it shows. The actual playing portion of the skydiving isn’t very deep, as you’re more just playing around with the remote to see your character fall at every angle through the sky. By the time you’re near ground, your parachute opens and you’re presented with a view of where the game takes place: The fictitious resort island that is Wuhu.
Compared to the first Wii Sports, this game has a lot more story atmosphere in it, which complements the sports nicely. You have an actual island to explore with 80 different sights to see. Unfortunately, the only way to see the island is in a plane in the Island Flyover mode (more on that later). It’d be nice to be able to walk – or cycle (more on that later, too) – through the city, as it’s just so cool to look at. Because of the island’s presence in the game, it’s considerably more immersive than the original Wii Sports. This is a good thing, and the good things don’t end there. This game is one of the most polished Wii games to date in terms of graphics, interface and sound.
The entire package of Wii Sports Resort is well worth the money if you plan to play it with friends or family, but on its own it can feel a little lacking. This is partly because the AI on higher levels can get grueling (Swordplay become near impossible when your level goes over 1300) and partly because it’s a party game at heart. It isn’t meant to be enjoyed alone, so it’s pretty incredible that you can have as much fun as you can on your own. And now, I’m going to go through each sport and say a bit about them.
Swordplay – This game is the perfect demo of how well the Wii MotionPlus works in a fun gaming sense. While Skydiving has a very literal interpretation of the capabilities of WM+, this one is a hell of a lot more fun. Your Mii is pitted against another Mii on a circular platform above water. You’re armed with a plastic sword, and it’s your job to whack the other guy off the platform before he gets you. You can swing from any angle and even lunge at your opponent, and hold B to get into a defensive stance. The mechanics here are easy to grasp and with a little practice you’ll be pushing many opponents into the water in no time. This is by far one of the best sports in this entire game – I’d consider paying this much for just more sword fighting. Along with the main mode “Duel” explained above, there’s Speed Slice, a reflex test where you have to cut objects in a certain direction before your opponent; and Showdown, where you’re set in an open area of Wuhu Island and various CPU Miis walk towards you in a very Left 4 Dead-like fashion. All three modes are well-executed and a joy to play.
Wakeboarding – This is one of the most simplistic sports in the game, but it’s still a good bit of fun. Your Mii is on a wakeboard towed by a speedboat, and it’s your job to pull of tricks on the wake. The entire game is comprised of swinging the remote from left to right to get air from the wake, and positioning the remote carefully so your character’s board is level with the water when they come down. That’s it. It may sound pretty shallow, and it is. But it’s still fun.
Frisbee – This is another good use of the WM+, because Frisbees in real life respond so much to small tweaks of the wrist and that’s one thing the game picks up. In the mode Frisbee Dog, you’re responsible for throwing a Frisbee to a certain area and having your dog fetch it. It’s pretty basic, but the Frisbee mechanics are pretty detailed once you get used to it. I personally didn’t like them at first, but I soon realized it was because I was used to the Tiger 10 controls for Disc Golf, and those incorporate a more full-armed throw. Frisbee in Wii Sports Resort, however, is all in the wrist. Once you’re tired of throwing the same Frisbee to the same dog in the same location, you can mix it up by playing Frisbee Golf. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, you play on a course identical to a golf course and try to get a Frisbee into an area in the fewest amount of throws. The game uses the same courses from normal golf here, but it works out just fine. For Frisbee lovers, this mode packs a lot more lasting appeal, but I didn’t find either Frisbee Dog of Frisbee Golf to be the best Wii Sports Resort had to offer.
Archery – Archery is slow, calm, and extremely precise. It’s controlled with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, both acting as hands holding a bow. Once you get the hang of the controls, it’s easy to aim and fire bulls-eyes frequently, but only on the easiest courses. There are twelve courses in all, divided into skill levels. In harder courses, the distance is longer, the wind is faster, and the target is moving (and occasionally blocked). The nature of the game isn’t fast like most others, but it’s well thought out and if you taking a liking to it, it’ll provide plenty of entertainment.
Table Tennis – This is the Tennis equivalent for Wii MotionPlus, and it’s better in every way. With WM+, the game now knows how you’re holding the paddle, and you can apply topspin and backspin with ease. If you’ve played Table Tennis in real life, it’s just like that. And that’s a really good thing.
Golf – If you played Golf on the original Wii Sports, you’ll notice that this is mighty similar. However, the under-the-hood improvements make it considerably more enjoyable. Now the game knows how far up you’re holding your club when you’re chipping it out of the rough, or the power of your put when you’re going for a birdie. If you’re into Golf games, this will please you quite a bit. (Note: If you’re really into golf, get Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10.)
Bowling – This is the other game that returns from the predecessor. This time around you have much better spin control and options to bowl an entire game with the 100-pin setup (as opposed to 10-pin). This game is now pretty much perfected, and it’s great at parties or on your own. If you got really good at the original Bowling, this may take some getting used to as spin is a lot easier to pull off. But it’s an easy transition to make, because the game is so fun to play.
Basketball – This may not seem like a sport that would work well on the Wii, but Nintendo has stripped it down to the basics and the result is amazingly fun but not quite what you’d expect. There’s a 3-Point Contest, for those looking to improve their shot, but the real gem is the Pickup Game, a 3-on-3 match where it takes an equal amount of strategy and skill to be successful. The only controls you have are passing, dribbling and shooting. Each time a point is scored or the ball is turned over, the play resets to the top of the key and the opposite team has the ball. This is where the strategy comes in. You can steal and block balls on defense, but offense has the choice whether or not to allow you to do so. For example, when I’m ready to take a shot, I can press B. I’ve got five seconds to shoot, but you shouldn’t block me until I jump or I could sneak a shot in. It’s a little hard to explain, but when you play it you’ll get it. There’s a rock-paper-scissors quality to this game, and while it may sound gimmicky and shallow, it’s a mind game of the highest order. And once you’ve mastered that part, there’s still the muscle memory of shooting to deal with. Shooting the basketball is comparable to bowling as far as a good shot goes. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. Overall, this is another one of the best sports in the game, and I’d love to see it fleshed out into a full game someday.
Power Cruising – This game has you holding the Wii Remote and Nunchuk like you would hold two handles of a jet ski. In the game, you drive through checkpoints as quickly as possible for a high score. The controls are underwhelming; it’s too easy to change direction when you’re using a speed boost and too hard to make a sharp turn when you need one. This sport doesn’t have too much depth and could have been a lot more fun to play, but it’s still worth including. Although deeper than Wakeboarding, it isn’t as simple and fun.
Canoeing – Unlike Basketball, if you think this game sounds odd to include, you’re right. The premise is simple – you paddle left and right in a single-person canoe. It actually looks just like a kayak, so if it makes you feel any better, you could think of it like that. The problem is, it isn’t as fun as kayaking, because your paddle is one sided, not two. The end result is repetitive and not especially deep. If you take the time to practice, however, this can actually be enjoyable at times. Still though, it’s one of the less-impressive sports in the package.
Cycling – Although this one has gotten a bad rep online, I found it to be pretty fun and strategic. Most people criticize the use of WM+: You have the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in each hand and you pump them up and down to make your bike go. It isn’t realistic, but that isn’t too much of a problem. The point of the game is to place as high as you can in a 30-person race, and you start in 30. The fun and strategy starts when you realize you can’t use all of your “breath” at once – you need to dole it out for the uphill portions, while you can coast downhill without any effort. Riding behind another biker restores your breath faster. The best part of Cycling, in my opinion, is riding through Wuhu Island. It’s just fun to look at. Overall, this probably won’t be your favorite, but it’s enough fun that you’ll want to come back to it.
Air Sports – This is a three-pronged offering. In Skydiving, the actual “objective” (that you aren’t informed of when playing the game upon the first boot-up) is to link up with other skydivers and show faces while the photographer snaps a photo. It’s really quite simple, and overall not too fun. This mode should be used to show your grandma how well Wii MotionPlus works, and that’s it. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got Island Flyover. In it, you’ve got five minutes to fly around Wuhu Island finding “i” points (little bubbles marking various attractions around the island) in a cool little plane. You hold the Wii Remote like a paper airplane, and it’s extremely easy to fly it around. I found this to be an extremely relaxing mode; half of the time I didn’t even go for the “i” points. But, if you’re a completionist at heart, there are 80 of them to find, so start flying. This is a really great mode to chill out with. Lastly, there’s Dogfight, where you and a friend (this is a strictly two-player game) fly around Wuhu trying to pop each other’s balloons on the tail of your plane. It’s straightforward, but a good time. As a whole, Air Sports is a pretty good offering that’s a great addition to the other sports.
And that sums the individual sport reviews. I’m going to conclude the review by listing some “merits” and “demerits” along with the overall verdict of whether or not to get this game. I’m not a score guy.
- One of the most polished games on the Wii
- Good content for completionists
- Wii MotionPlus is used (mostly) perfectly to compliment the minigames
- Some games are significantly less engaging than others
- Slightly unimpressive single player options with unfair AI in the higher levels
Buy This Game If:
- You want a quality, long lasting Wii party game
- You want a great demonstration of what Wii MotionPlus is capable of
- Sports mini games entertain you a lot
- You need another Wii MotionPlus and don't mind spending a touch extra on a game that you may or may not like
Do Not Buy This Game If:
- You don't think you'll be playing with others too much and light singleplayer games aren’t enough for you
- You're generally unimpressed with minigame collections