During the past few years, video game fans have grown accustomed to the terms ‘casual‘ and ‘hardcore.’ Some gamers despise these terms, while others wear their badge with pride. One company who is famous for its Italian plumbers is primarily responsible for this shift in gamer demographics.
Nintendo, or the Big N, felt that its destiny was to draw in new players through simpler technology.
One way in which they accomplished this is through motion controls. With Wiimote waggle and countless mini-games, Nintendo almost single-handedly changed the video game industry.
Titles like Wii Sports and Wii Fit have made technology averse soccer moms flock to the couch. Even the elderly are dropping their walkers and rattling Wiimotes.
Whether you like this shift towards casual games or not, the fact of the matter is that they’re here to stay (at least for a few more years). You may be one of the millions of hardcore gamers that turns their nose at titles like Wii Sports, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid all casual games.
Wii Sports may have felt like a tech demo with little replay value, and Wii Fit might have been a mediocre exercise simulator, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying Nintendo’s latest creation: Wii Sports Resort.
Now that Nintendo has sold Wiis to everyone’s grandma, the Japanese video game juggernaut felt that it was time to step it up another notch. Instead of giving us a paltry five mini-games that kinda worked, they decided to grant us a whopping twelve mini-games at a fine resort that celebrities would be jealous of.
This resort, Wuhu Island, is a great place for would-be vacationers that can’t afford to leave their humble abode. From the comfort of your couch, you can enter Forest Gump-esque ping pong tournaments, basketball games that would make Michael Jordan jealous, and you can bike in a mock Tour de France (or rather, Tour de Wuhu).
Exaggerations aside, Wii Sports Resort includes enough mini-games for the whole family (yeah, I used that cliché). These include:
- Table Tennis
- Power Cruising
- Air Sports
You might be thinking, “Well, Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz had fifty.” While that factoid is correct, the difference here is that most of these mini-games include multiple modes that are mostly high quality experiences for both solo gamers and groups of people.
Take Swordplay for example. Ever since the beginning of the Wii, gamers have clamored for a game that allows you to realistically swing a sword or lightsaber. Red Steel may have let us down, but Resort’s swordplay is a blast and features superb control with the required (and packed-in) Wii MotionPlus attachment.
In each of Swordplay’s three modes, you’re able to wield a plastic sword with stunning accuracy. Swordplay has you holding the Wiimote vertically, and you can literally tilt it at any angle your heart desires.
If you want to block a vertical strike, simply hold the Wiimote horizontally. If someone tries to decapitate you, block their attack by holding your sword vertically.
Unlike most motion games, you can strike at any angle you’d like, and you can block any attack simply by holding B and tilting your Wiimote in the appropriate direction.
In the regular versus mode called Duel, you’ll battle a human opponent. When she lunges at you with her deadly weapon, simply parry and counterattack to knock your unbalanced foe backwards.
The goal of this mode is to knock your opponent out of the ring where she’ll plummet into the depths of the sea. It’ll take some time to get used to, but once you figure out how to deflect attacks from various angles, it’s a blast.
Another sword mode, called Sword Slice, is equally enjoyable. In this mode, you’re tasked with cutting falling objects at the appropriate angle.
An arrow will appear on screen when the object drops to make you aware of which direction you’re supposed to cut the object. When each object drops from the sky, you’re tasked with slicing the on-screen object before your opponent gets the chance to. Whoever cuts the most objects first by the end of the game wins.
The concept is simple, but it makes for an extremely competitive, yet enjoyable experience.
The final sword mode, Showdown, is single-player only, but it’s where the meat of Swordplay’s gameplay lies. In this mode, you’ll face off against hundreds of opponents over twenty different stages.
Each stage features dozens of eager sacrifices who are willing to be pierced by your blade. You’re only given three hearts however, so you’ll have to carefully observe your opponents’ attack patterns. It’s here where you’ll learn the necessity of blocking, and you’ll also be forced to strike at varying angles.
Most of these stages are quite fun in addition to being challenging, but unfortunately, there are a couple nagging flaws.
Occasionally, enemy hits seem to go through your parries, and your sword strikes will sometimes miss even when they should have connected. Also, it’s difficult to read enemy attack patterns at times when there are nearly a dozen enemies grouped together.
This makes getting through some of the later stages difficult, but still, it’s generally an enjoyable experience.
Slicing up opponents can be fun, but you’ll also probably want to play some heated rounds of Table Tennis. This time, you’ll have to do without four-players and the fuzzy yellow ball, but you won’t miss them with the significantly improved gameplay.
As a former tennis player, I was extremely disappointed with what the original Wii Sports had to offer. I liked how you could hit a ball back and forth with simple strokes (with little frustration on the parts of other players), but the simplistic gameplay just didn’t do it for me.
Tennis is a game of timing and skill, and I felt little of that in Wii Sports’ rudimentary mini-game. What made it so basic is that you couldn’t even control your player and the angle of your shot. Well technically, you could to some degree based on your timing, but it felt nothing like real tennis.
Thankfully, Wii Sports Resort remedies that problem. You still can’t control where your player runs, but that isn’t really necessary for Ping Pong. What you can control however, is the direction you hit the ball.
This time, it’s easy to return the ball in various angles: you can easily hit corners, hit short drop shots, and whack the ball straight down the middle. It’s certainly easier than the real thing, but your degree of control is much greater than that in Wii Sports’ Tennis.
Anyone who’s followed Wii Sports Resort has likely heard of the former two mini-games, but one that really surprised me was Canoeing. In Canoeing you have the option of paddling together with another teammate, or you can have a dramatic paddle battle down one of Wuhu island’s many rivers.
Both options are exciting re-creations of the real sport, but for different reasons.
The cooperative mini-game, Speed Challenge, is a joy to play, because of the realistic motion controls and teamwork it requires. To paddle, each of the one to four players simply needs to tilt the controller at a 45 degree angle and row.
To go forward, it’s important that players row at the same time on opposite sides of the canoe. If the canoe is starting to careen towards the buoys, it’s important that all players move their paddles to the same side to turn the canoe in the opposite direction.
There are other obstacles to avoid as well, so it’s important that players coordinate if they hope to reach their destination.
Speed Challenge may be fun for close pals, but VS is more suitable for the competitive gamer. In this mode, players will paddle their own kayaks in the hopes of being first to the finish line.
They’ll have to watch out for conspicuous buoys, dodge nearly invisible whirlpools, and evade debris that has risen to the water’s surface. It’s easy to get stuck when you first start out, but many laughs can be had when you’re playing with others of similar skill levels.
As expected Wii Sports Resort’s most heavily advertised mini-games performed well, but there were also some fun surprises, like canoeing. A few other mini-games that managed to surprise me were Frisbee, Archery, and Cycling.
Wii Sports Resort’s Frisbee has a variety of options, and performs much like the real thing. You have two throwing options–Manual, which consists of holding down the B Button until the end of your throw when you release, and Automatic, which involves holding down the button the entire time and simply flicking your wrist.
Both modes work surprisingly well, and you can even throw the Frisbee in a variety of angles. I tried bouncing it off the ground, launching the Frisbee up at a steep angle, and even throwing it from the opposite side of my body, and all techniques worked as they should.
Even though your throws don’t quite go the distance they would in real life, they’re still more realistic than those found in Tiger Woods’ Disc Golf mode.
Another way in which Wii Sports Resort one-ups Tiger is with its variety of options. You have the choice of playing fetch with your dog, hitting balloon targets, and you can play three to eighteen round holes of Disc Golf. All of these modes are fairly relaxing, which makes them perfect for a lazy Sunday.
I also enjoyed Wii Sports Resort’s Archery mode, which included three difficulty levels. In Archery, you wield the Wiimote vertically with your left hand, while holding the nunchuk with your right.
Your Wiimote aims, while you pull back and hold Z to release an arrow into a target. If you fail to obtain a bull’s-eye, worry not, because you’ll still obtain some points as long as your arrow penetrates the target.
While this mode sounds quite basic, it gets increasingly challenging depending on what difficulty level you choose. In harder levels, you’ll have to deal with moving targets, more wind, different elevations, and obstacles blocking your target.
All of these levels of difficulty are quite fun, but I do have one minor complaint. When you pull back your nunchuk, the cursor snaps into position immediately when it should really be a gradual process. This takes a degree of realism out of the sport, but it’s still a decent archery simulation.
Surprisingly, I also had fun with Cycling. I’d read several negative reviews of this mini-game, but I actually found it quite fun, despite it not feeling like the real sport.
Obviously, it’d be impossible to accurately emulate the experience of riding a bicycle on the Wii, as you can’t use your legs, but the hand motions do a decent job of imitating pedaling.
In order to propel the bike forwards, players will move their Wiimotes and nunchuks downwards and upwards in alternate motions to simulate pedaling. Besides simply pedaling, they have to watch their stamina (represented by three hearts), catch drafts, pump their brakes, and steer.
You’ll carry out these tasks in two separate modes throughout six courses.
One of these modes has you pedaling on a tandem bike with other players. It’s important to coordinate with your teammates to improve your odds of beating twenty nine opponents on several tracks throughout Wuhu Island. To win, it’s essential that players pedal together and brake at the appropriate times.
Sometimes, you’ll feel like you’re throwing a tantrum instead of cycling, but there’s actually a fair amount of strategy involved.
Cycling’s other mode is Versus and controls similarly, so there is nothing else that needs to be explained.
Most of Wii Sports Resort’s mini-games that I failed to mention are also quite fun, but I was disappointed with a few of the available choices. The aquatic offerings in particular were quite lackluster.
While Canoeing was an enjoyable experience, Power Cruising and Wakeboarding are a snore. If you wanted Power Cruising to be Wave Race’s second coming, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Watching the Regginator race Cammie Dunaway full throttle was kinda fun, but the actual experience is a bore.
To play, you hold both controllers as if you’re gripping a steering wheel, and your goal is to maneuver your Jet Ski through rings. If your machine didn’t move like the Titanic, it could be fun, but sadly, it isn’t.
Unfortunately, Wakeboarding isn’t much better. It may be a hip sport among those who like to say, “Radical!”, but Wii Sports Resort’s dull version will make you swim for dry land if the game’s terrible announcer hasn’t already put you in a coma.
To Wakeboard, all you have to do is hold the Wiimote horizontally and angle it to the side to move into a boat’s wake. When you turn hard into a wake and lift your Wiimote, you’ll usually launch into the air and perform some kind of trick. What trick you perform appears to be random, but you’ll get more points the higher you jump.
If you fail to land your trick, you’ll not only have lost your pride, but your points as well. It’s important to gain as many points as you can within the two minute time limit, because whoever ends up with the most points wins.
If this snooze fest doesn’t put you to sleep already, the announcer will, with his “radical” accent and impressive vocabulary including words like, “Nice!”, “Dude!”, and “Alright!”.
Wii Sports Resort may include a couple duds, but it’s still an excellent mini-game package that will satisfy all types of gamers. Even if Wii Sports Resort doesn’t include a fifty-hour storyline and a truck load of uber gear, it’s still a significant improvement over the original Wii Sports, which quickly ended up as a drink coaster.
This time, Nintendo wisely decided to include twelve mini-games, each with enough modes to keep any individual with a short attention-span satisfied. I never expected to enjoy throwing faux threes, or canoeing down a virtual river, but Wii Sports Resort succeeded where other casual games failed.
If you’re looking for a great multiplayer game to play with friends and family, check out this upscale resort, whether you’re “hardcore” or “casual.” You’ll rarely find this much fun that a whole family can enjoy for fifty bucks.
- Features an impressive collection of mini-games that nearly anyone will enjoy
- New sports like Canoeing, Archery, and Swordplay are a blast
- The new cooperative sports are a lot of fun
- Many mini-games prove the reliability of Wii MotionPlus
- Features some fun, goal-oriented single-player modes
- Achievement-whores will finally feel loved with the in-game stamps
- Table Tennis is a huge improvement over Wii Sports Tennis
- Resort’s Frisbee is more accurate than Tiger Woods’ Disc Golf
- The visuals are better than those found in most casual games
- No online-play (then again, would you really want it with Friend Codes?)
- Resort’s Golf feels no different than the lackluster version of the sport found in the original
- Most of the water sports feature terrible controls and bland gameplay
- The wakeboarding announcer sounds like he’s Nintendo’s pizza deliveryman
- In Swordplay, sword attacks will occasionally penetrate blocks when they shouldn’t
- There could be more four-player games
- Dogfighting is pretty lame (couldn’t they have added loops and U-turns?)
- Dribbling in basketball doesn’t really work