The original Wii Sports was the perfect pack-in game because it really summed up everything that the Wii was about. It was easy to grasp, but had enough of a hook to it to keep people coming back whether they'd played a thousand games or just one. It showcased the Wii's motion-sensing controls and let you know what they were all about. But beyond all of that, it was, at its core, fun. Simple, basic, fun.
While that experience is the one that launched millions of sales for Nintendo's console, it's been a bit of a bumpy road for those of us with years of gaming experience. As developers chase after the millions of Wii owners who don't have a lot of hours spent with more traditional games, we've seen tons of games that attempt to duplicate the simple successes of Wii Sports. But very few of these cash-ins have succeeded. All of this makes Nintendo's return to sports-themed minigames that much sweeter. Wii Sports Resort offers more variety and a bit more complexity without alienating that family up the street who only bought a Wii because they love bowling. Unless you're the kind of sullen misanthrope who can only feel at peace when getting headshots with some kind of virtual scope, you'll surely find something about Wii Sports Resort that keeps both you and your non-gaming friends or family coming back for more.
As the first game that actually requires you to have a Wii MotionPlus, Resort is the big showcase for Nintendo's sensitivity-enhancing brick, and it works very well. Wii Sports Resort and the MotionPlus combine to finally make good on all the promises that the Wii originally made back in 2006. Remember all the dopey models, hiding behind couches and twisting on-screen swords with lifelike precision? With the MotionPlus attached, everything feels just a bit closer to that reality. It's probably most noticeable in the sword fighting game, where you have to swing at multiple angles to get around your opponent's defense. The sword stuff ended up being my favorite game of the lot, actually. It just feels right.
In addition to the swordplay, there are 11 other types of games to play with in Wii Sports Resort. Odds are you won't love all of them. Me, I found canoeing, cycling, Frisbee, and power cruising to be my least favorite. Canoeing is just kind of tedious, though the act of paddling your canoe is fairly lifelike. Cycling doesn't replicate the act of riding a bike very well, asking you to shake a Remote and Nunchuk up and down to pedal and move them sideways to steer. Frisbee--which lets you play Frisbee golf or attempt to throw the disc at specific targets--seems really cool in theory, but I'm absolutely awful at it. And as much as you want power cruising to be the second coming of Wave Race, it's never going to be the second coming of Wave Race. The controls are awkward and the courses are dull.
But for every cycling, there's something like table tennis, which feels great and approximates the actual act of playing ping pong surprisingly well. Just like the real thing, it's all in the wrist, as twisting your wrist will apply spin to the ball. It brings more depth to an experience that would otherwise be strictly timing-based. There's also archery, where you draw the Nunchuk back like you're drawing a bow, take aim, and fire in a variety of situations. As the wind increases and your targets start moving, this becomes pretty tricky. The basketball game is mostly a three-point competition that feels like it rewards proper jump shot form. There's also a variant that lets you play three-on-three. This is nice because it lets you execute slam dunks by slamming the Wii Remote home after getting around the defenders, but it takes so many liberties with the rules of basketball that it's kind of clunky.
Golf and bowling both appeared in the original Wii Sports, and they're back in Resort. The main differences I noticed was that bowling felt a lot easier because you have a higher level of spin control on your shots. That same wrist twisting made golf a lot harder for me at first. I probably spent 30 minutes slicing shots into the rough before working out the kinks in my faux-swing, keeping my wrists straight, and getting a good feel for how much power is enough power. That said, they're still very similar to their counterparts from the previous game.
There's also an air sports section where you can sky dive or fly a plane around the island. The sky diving almost seems like a tutorial designed to get you used to moving the Remote with the Wii MotionPlus attached. The flying is interesting because it lets you see the whole island, where every event takes place. You can buzz the area where the sword duels take place, see the different cycling courses from the sky, and so on. But that and the two-player dogfighting aren't strong enough to keep you coming back.
All of these events are based around the tropical island of Wuhu. As you might expect by "Resort" being right there in the name, the game has a Hawaiian shirt kind of feel to it that gives everything a bright and colorful style. It's not dramatically better than my memory of the original Wii Sports, but when you compare the two side by side, you can tell which one is newer.
By offering 12 events and covering a variety of different styles, Nintendo has almost ensured that anyone who remotely liked anything about the original Wii Sports will find Wii Sports Resort to be a lot of fun. On top of that, it's still just as accessible as the original was, making it a great choice if you're looking for games to play with people who don't play a lot of games. You know what? It doesn't even need that layer of qualification. Wii Sports Resort is great.