After the boys of summer have gone
“The MotionPlus is here! The MotionPlus is here! The Wii is saved! We now have full one-to-one controls! The MotionPlus is the future of gaming! All rejoice! Run, don’t walk, to your nearest Walmart and buy four MotionPluses with matching jackets and gather around the sensation of the summer, Wii Sports Resort, as the Wii once again revolutionizes gaming!”
…is what I may have said if Wii Sports Resort was my first exposure to the MotionPlus, the little adaptor that transforms the Wiimote into something more than a primitive device capable only of discerning “not moving” from “violently moving.” But I’ve already had the life-altering experience, and it wasn’t with Nintendo or any big-headed Miis, but with the smooth-shaven friendly face in Tiger Woods. Tiger’s recent Wii video game not only captured that initial wow-factor as I watched Tiger’s club move in near-perfect harmony with my amateurish swinging arms, but did it within the context of an accessible-yet-feature rich golf experience. So with the novelty having been worn out two months ahead of time, I’m left to assess Wii Sports Resort’s merits as a video game and not the tie-in for the latest cash flow turbine powering Nintendo’s bank account.
I’d like to think that the most important attribute a video game can have is the ability to be played. Sounds like a trivial statement, but it’s that is as believable as stating that inhaling is a vital part of not dying. Wii Sports Resort forced me to watch a 3 minute, unskippable tutorial on how to…
-install the MotionPlus (with jacket) into the Wiimote
-uninstall the MotionPlus from the Wiimote (be sure to hold on to your original Wiimote jacket for this very purpose, the game explains)
-install a nunchuck in a MotionPlus-enhanced Wiimote
You cannot avoid this cutscene. Nintendo has completely neglected the many gamers whom have already bought the damn MotionPlus that has been on the damn market for the last damn month. My feelings turned from agitation to awkwardness, as the game then leaps into a sequence where you use the MotionPlus to manipulate a skydiver. This was where the complete lack of Mii-driven games and subsequent forgetting all about those little creatures came to haunt me, as I found my beach-resort relaxation interrupted by playing as my ex-girlfriend. “Crap, this is weird”, I thought. So after finally gaining access to the main menu, quitting the game and entering the Mii Channel to empty my emotional baggage, I finally got to play the game part of Wii Sports Resort. If you’re fatigued having read this far without hearing a single sentence about the actual gameplay, well, imagine being in my shoes.
I consider myself a homo sapien, and like every homo sapien, I once had delusions of grandeur over using the Wiimote as a lightsaber in a Star Wars game. So the first game I leaped at the chance of playing was Swordplay; here, your Miis will beat each other to death in PG-rated foam-sword battles. My one thought playing Swordplay and watching as my decidedly sharper-goateed Mii slapped around inferior-goateed Miis while mirroring my every hand motion and sword-swipe was “well the next Red Steel or Star Wars game could be pretty cool.” But those games are quite far away from release and on the other hand, this swordy game in front of me has but a paltry set of modes. They include “Slash another person”, “Slash fruit” and “massacre a lot of mindless drones in preparation for your real life school-slaying.” And as it is, there isn’t a wealth of depth or this mode, or any incentive to motivate yourself into simulating 12 different school-slaying on different parts of the island.
And that, to me, is the general story of Wii Sports Resort; 12 quirky mini-games, but nothing with enough meat to keep you amused for the duration of this vacation. Archery has you holding the remote and nunchuck in a weird manner to simulate using a bow and arrow…and that’s it. Frisbee has you swinging your Wiimote like a Frisbee at allocated targets without literally throwing it at your television (real men don’t use the wriststrap…) and that’s it. Basketball as you flinging the remote in the air to simulate a lay-up…and that’s it. Wakeboarding has you turning the remote around and occasionally springing up (Waggle lives!) to jump…and that’s it. The airplane flying game, more than any other game, showcases the accuracy that the MotionPlus can bring to a game, but you’re restricted to flying around an island, looking for floating I’s and learning about tourist attractions in a resort catered to Bob the Builder. A lot of these games have alternate difficulties, courses and even mock-Achievements, but they feel too shallow in contrast to the physical effort you’ll have to exert to play them. It’s a step up from Wii Sports and its ability to register only your most radical of movements for all of the non-bowling games, but not enough to fly through every game in two-minute intervals.
It got to a point where I felt that the game’s constant messages of “take a break!” or “don’t forget to calibrate the remote” were more vain attempts to prolong the game’s play-life; to delay the player from burning through every attraction in this resort and trade the game in. After all, a game about Summer events is bound to seasonally die a horrible death within the resale market during the winter holidays.
Wii Golf and Wii Bowling return, and Wii Tennis is reincarnated as Table Tennis. The latter can be potentially fun with a friend, but you lack control over every aspect but the hand in which your Mii wields a paddle, and thus this game grows tiresome too. Wii Bowling has a few unlockable new challenges but really, we’ve all played (or been forced to play) Wii Bowling to death, we’re all sick of hucking the ball behind us and watching the little Miis jump in panic over the damage done to the alley’s hardwood floor. Golf has some new courses but…well, Tiger Woods PGA Tour ’11! Buy that!
Finally, there are the racing games, the weakest of all. Canoeing asks you to imagine your Wiimote is a paddle and splash, splash, splash your way to the finish line! This was obviously meant to be some form of drinking game at your next party, the one that weeds out the weak by inducing vomit through the combination of shots and physical exercise. Or you can put your Miis on Jet-skis and race through checkpoints in a jet-skiing game that may shockingly be more tacky than WaveRace 64. The problem with this game is that, in steering with both the Wiimote and nunchuck, the response time between your motions and the game’s are stalled and your driving is anything but smooth. Call it the Mario Kart Wii Disease. Finally, combining the worst of both worlds is bicycling, featuring both clunky steering and the redundancy of peddling with the remote and nunchuck. If you loved Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games, than this is the mini-game for you. I just tend to think that most people…didn’t like Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games. For many reasons.
Like its predecessor, Wii Sports Resort is meant to be showed off at parties to your friends. Of course, this means buying more MotionPlus adapters, but that’s all part of Nintendo’s master plan anyways. While Resort has more content and is generally more functional than the clunky mess of Wii Sports, it also has the same tendency to lean solely on the novelty of new controls. I got the impression playing this game that the MotionPlus could lend itself to other, more focused games that flesh out any individual gameplay mechanic the way Tiger Woods did. It’s just that this very game is little more than a series of mini-game collections that left me wondering when this vacation would end already. Did I mention you should buy Tiger Woods on the Wii?
2 ½ stars