Wii Sports was kind of a big deal in 2006. General consensus and a bunch of awards had it as Sports Game of the Year. It also drove Wii console sales since it was bundled in the package, and caused a sizable penny to drop: good graphics does not a good game make.
Most importantly it was the game that demonstrated to us all the potential of motion sensitive gaming. When we heard about the follow up, Wii Sports Resort (WSR), we wondered if it would have the same potential.
What’s the big deal about WSR?
The big deal about WSR is that it’s Nintendo’s first game to support the Wii Motion Plus (WMP). This carries with it the promise of 1:1 movement tracking and an altogether more authentic motion gaming experience. The good news is that WSR comes packaged with the little add-on so you won’t have to buy it separately to play the games; unless you want a second one, which you probably will.
The other side to the WSR deal is the sense of an all round package. This time you get 12 mini-games to play instead of five, two of which (bowling and golf) have carried over from the original. With all these mini-games comes a little context, since you are off on an island adventure to enjoy all the sporting activities the WuHu resort island, on which the game is set, has to offer.
While the context is pretty thin (no story or anything behind it) the island looks fantastic, really giving off the feel of a resort in Nintendo’s unique style. This is especially notable when doing the Air Sports like Island Flyover. In terms of game play WSR offers a somewhat mixed bag, however, with some standout games and ... well we forgot about the others.
The bowling and the golf are both noticeably improved upon in this version. Putting in golf takes a little more precision and spinning the ball during bowling is a lot more fun thanks to the WMP. The addition of a 100-pin game mode in the bowling adds a little something extra as well.
A new addition is the Frisbee game. Although simple it is perhaps the best way to get used to the WMP. You hold the Frisbee by pressing the B button on the Wiimote and then simulate throwing it, releasing B to release the Frisbee. The trouble is that the angle at which you release the Frisbee and the spin you give it are all accounted for making it tough to replicate your throws.
Archery is another standout game. It is ridiculously easy to pick up but you’ll find yourself playing and replaying it in search of that perfect score. Using the nun-chuck to draw the bow you aim with the Wiimote, having to account for wind and distance, and shoot at a target. Hitting the bull’s-eye is satisfying but gets tougher as you advance through the stages.
The best games, however, are the competitive multiplayer offerings. The Table Tennis is one of the most enjoyable games of them all. The ability to compete against another player sets it apart from most of the other turn based multiplayer modes the other mini-games offer. The ability to spin and place the ball adds greatly to its replay value. Like the Archery it’s a game that’s really easy to pick up but tough to master.
Another game that offers some competitive multiplayer action is the Dogfight mode in the Air Sports mini-game. Unlike the Skydiving and Island Flyover, which are really dull, the Dogfight mode pits you against another player as you fly about the island attempting to burst balloons your opponent is towing while trying to avoid the same fate.
The Swordplay is impressive for very different reasons to Table Tennis and Dogfight. It takes a little getting used to as defense requires you use the B button instead of simply blocking and so all other actions see you on the offensive. This makes the game a little more hap-hazard and fast paced than the others. You can dual, play slicing competitions which test your reactions against an opponents, and compete in a showdown which sees you taking on a host of enemies as you travel a map.
The other games like the Cycling, Watersports and AirSport felt a little half-baked and weren’t worth more than a single play-through. Flapping your arms about to mimic cycling is hardly much fun and although Canoeing offered a competitive multiplayer mode it really didn’t offer the same amount of sports as the Table Tennis or Swordplay did.
While there really as some great mini-games in the package, and some not so great games, as a whole WSR just lacks something. It is simple to play, the graphics aren’t overly clever and WMP is great. But it just fails to take the game to the next level as far as we’re concerned. Nintendo could have added a little more depth to the games or at least added extra options. Why restrict the Table Tennis to just three rounds? Why limit the number of players to just two in the Dogfights? And where is the online play? A little more form Nintendo could have gone a long way.
Consequently WSR, a lot like its forerunner, should be seen as a great demonstration tool, only this time round it’s the WMP that’s being demonstrated. The trouble is that it isn’t packaged with Wii consoles the way Wii Sports was and it lacks the wow factor Wii Sports had in 2006. With Microsoft and Sony looking at motion sensitive gaming in the near future Nintendo probably needs a stronger flagship offering than WSR.
PROSThe integration of WMP is great. Competitive multiplayer games are serious fun.
It lacks depth. Single player content is minimal and multiplayer offering is limited.