This review of Wii Sports Resort was originally written for N-Europe and published on 23rd July 2009.  Due to a site redesign conflicting with the formatting of the original article, the review is incomplete and missing reviews of some sports, such as Archery and Air Sports.

Cut my game into pieces, this is Wii Sports Resort.

How do you provide a follow-up to the best-selling game of all time?  Wii Sports Resort offers more than double the amount of sports found in the Wii’s original pack-in game, and as the pioneer of Wii MotionPlus, a waggle-enhancing dongle which plugs directly into the bottom of your Remote (and promises true 1:1 replications of your in-life motions), these sports are physically more accurate than has ever been achieved by previous motion-controlled attempts on the Wii. It sounds good on paper, but how do you go about convincing sceptical gamers that this new-fangled witchcraft actually works?

By chucking you out of a plane at an altitude of around 13,000 feet.

This is your induction to Wuhu Island, a grand, expansive resort paradise brimming with things to do and places to see – a well-deserved holiday from the monotony of low-quality shovelware and effortless sports games which currently dominate the Wii market.

It is indeed during freefall after jumping out of a plane that you realise that Wii MotionPlus actually works. As an on-screen overlay demonstrates, prompting you to test it out for yourself, your freefalling Mii is your Wii Remote. Flip it over, twist it, turn it, shake it, keep it still; no matter what you do with it, your Mii will replicate the motions. There are no glitchy movements or unrecognised motion inputs, as movement constantly remains wonderfully fluid.

Allowing you to fiddle around with and push the capabilities of MotionPlus right off the bat is an indicator for what the rest of the game will be like. By god, are you in for a treat.

resort1‘Cause I’m freeeeeee, I’m freefallin’!

Once you’ve parachuted into Wuhu Island having experimented with your new toy, the full range of sports are available to you instantly. The rather clinical feeling we got from the mash-up of games and exercises in Wii Fit, which partially took place on this island, is gone; everything (bar the golf courses) takes place on the island. Going for a leisurely (or not so leisurely) ride on your bicycle or embarking on a flight around the island will reveal each and every one of the locations you visited to play various sports to be “real”. The whole island is pretty unified, and the experience of dipping out of one sport and into another is very fluent. This coupled with extremely accurate controls for sports equates to quite an immersive experience, more so than possibly any other game we’ve played in the past.

It is indeed during freefall after jumping out of a plane that you realise that Wii MotionPlus actually works. Your freefalling Mii is your Wii Remote. Flip it over, twist it, turn it, shake it, keep it still; no matter what you do with it, your Mii will replicate the motions. There are no glitchy movements or unrecognised inputs, as movement constantly remains wonderfully fluid.

In opening up the resort and all of its activities to all players automatically, there may understandably be some worry from players looking for more of a challenge than they found in the original Wii Sports. Whilst “casual” players can have a perfectly enjoyable experience with what is already on offer, the more seasoned gamer can dig a little deeper into the various sports and unlock more advanced difficulty levels, extra options such as playing a certain sport during the evening or by moonlight, and even dabbling in what looks to be Nintendo’s take on the Xbox 360’s achievement system: Stamps.

Each sport has a selection of Stamps waiting to be unlocked, some of which are fairly easy to achieve, and some which will take a fair bit of time, skill and patience. Things such as snapping a bird during freefall in Skydiving and hitting several consecutive bullseyes in Archery will take a great level of determination to crack, but it is indeed a great way to extend the life of the game in single-player without cheapening the experience.

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Take to the skies and see Wuhu Island in its colourful entirety.

However, let’s not kid ourselves. The real life juice in Wii Sports Resort can be found in multiplayer, the main attraction of both Resort and its predecessor. Considering Wii Sports was the game that convinced millions of people to buy a Wii and served as an introduction not only to motion controls, but to multiplayer gaming for many people, it goes without saying that the quality of the multiplayer is responsible for whether or not the game sinks or swims.

Wii Sports Resort not only swims, it rockets through the ocean like a marlin on speed. Despite the financial issues that may arise from being able to actually afford four Wii Remotes and MotionPlus accessories for a complete multiplayer experience, the end result is more than worth it. Seeing your family, children and adults alike, laughing and playing games together, a vision that would have most likely been preposterous around five years ago, is a wonderful image. It’s hard to describe the fun and joy of Wii Sports Resort‘s multiplayer mode, but that image of a family playing and enjoying the game should be self-explanatory.

Now, because we love you all so dearly, we have reviewed each and every sport in Wii Sports Resort separately.

We immediately rushed to this after parachuting in to the resort – it was the very first sport on the main menu, and we just couldn’t resist the lure of fulfilling the Jedi dreams which filled our heads the very first moment we saw the Wii Remote. Swordplay is guaranteed to be a “wow” moment for players diving in to Wii Sports Resort for the first time, as you’ll see by simply twirling the Wii Remote around that your Mii’s sword hand will respond to everything that you’re doing with your own hand – this is true 1:1.

Duel is the first mode that is available to you, and allows you to test your fencing skills against computer opponents. It takes place on a large circular platform in the middle of the sea, with the first person to be knocked off into the briny depths below being the loser. It’s best out of three, with the possibility of sudden death in the event of a tie, so you’ll need to be at the top of your game. Swing your Wii Remote any way you want to attack your opponent, and when the other Mii gets a bit antsy and decides to fight back, hold B and assume a defensive stance with your Wii Remote to block enemy attacks. It ‘s a system that works very well, and it’s pleasing to see that mindless waggle really won’t get you anywhere.

resort10Take that, Justin Lee Collins!

You really do need to think about how you’re swinging; the direction, the timing, everything is important. If you swing and hit your opponent’s sword whilst they are blocking, you will be temporarily stunned, allowing your opponent to unleash a series of potentially devastating slashes on you. Alternatively, you could turn the tables, wait for your opponent to strike and then block, and counter-attack. If you’re against a particularly annoying opponent in multiplayer who is relying on a flurry of waggles to get them through, you’ll have to adopt and master this strategy to beat some sense into them.

Swordplay is guaranteed to be a “wow” moment for players diving in to Wii Sports Resort for the first time.

Speed Slice is a game which requires the reflexes of a cat in later stages. You’re pitted against another Mii, whilst a trainer lobs two identical objects at both of you. A line appears on the object, showing which way you’re required to cut the object to beat your opponent. Think fast and don’t get it wrong, because the victor is whoever manages to cut the most objects correctly before the other. It’s hectic and addictive, and it’s especially fun to see just how precise MotionPlus is when it comes to cutting up these objects (can you sharpen a pencil?).

Showdown is where the action is really at, however. It’s like a family-friendly version of the fight against the Crazy 88 at the end of Kill Bill Vol. 1 – you’re faced with hordes of Miis, each armed and dangerous with a plastic weapon ready to rip the fluffing out of you. Cut them all down as they come at you with exact precision, watching out for “boss” Miis who are wearing extra padding and are more likely to hit you back. The music is foreboding and epic, the locations and scenario very dramatic. This should quench gamers’ thirsts for a Star Wars 1:1 lightsabre game in making you feel like a Jedi Knight, a member of the Fellowship of the Ring, or indeed Uma Thurman taking down Lucy Liu’s goons.

Conclusion: One of the best sports in the game, and likely to be the one you’ll still be playing years from now.

Despite Nintendo execs’ excitement for it at last year’s E3, we really didn’t see ourselves enjoying this as much as we did. This simple beach sport predictably sees you positioning yourself with your Wii Remote as if you’re about to throw a Frisbee. We were suitably impressed by how responsive and smooth the controls were – it was almost like the real thing! Cast your frisbee into the air and your trusty virtual canine companion will go and grab it if it falls within the range of an invisible target, the centre of which is indicated by a puppy icon. The closest your projectile gets to the centre of the circle, the more points your mutt scores for you. If you manage to hit the bullseye, Pongo (he looks like a Pongo) will perform an impressive mid-air catch that will drive the crowd and the announcer wild. Good pooch.

We were suitably impressed by how responsive and smooth the controls were.

Balloons are introduced about half-way through a Frisbee session, and allow you to rack up even more points on top of Pongo’s catches if you manage to pop them before the Frisbee makes its way over to the target. MotionPlus is versatile enough to allow you to put enough spin on the Frisbee to pop one of these balloons, and then watch as the Frisbee U-turns into the target zone. Cracking.

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Frisbee is a surprisingly good showcase of MotionPlus’ capabilities.

As impressive as the controls are when it comes to Pongo’s finest hour, the mode is fairly limited. It’s a good job then that Nintendo saw fit to introduce Frisbee Golf. Like normal golf… but with Frisbees.

You’re given the choice of three different Frisbees, each differing in size and purpose. The larger ones are your best bets in cutting the distance between you and the large cylindrical goal at the end of the course. When you manage to get there, use the “putter” and glide into the cylinder with ease. Frisbee Golf not only further demonstrates the versatility of the new controller, but gives the sport some extra life – chuck in a few more players, and you’ve got a multiplayer corker that rivals even the mighty Golf!

Conclusion: It’s surprisingly deep! It’s a great example of how versatile MotionPlus is, and is sure to be vying for your attention in multiplayer.

Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream… In free practise, canoeing is one of the more relaxing sports on offer here. Marvel in the beautiful water effects as you gently caress the water with your oar. Families of ducks swim by without a care in the world, and you become lost in a sea of relaxation…

That is, until free practice is over. Now you’re against the clock, your hands are scraping the Wii Remote viciously on the left and right as you try to maintain a decent rhythm and force your boat past the starting line. That family of ducks has just been flattened by your vessel as you attempt to get to the finish line before the clock runs down completely. No, we don’t want to row left, we’re trying to row right!

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Canoe believe it?

Yes, what would be a relaxing inclusion becomes an against-the-clock panic that sometimes results in frustration as the Wii Remote refuses to recognise the side you’re attempting to row on. This can be solved by trying to move the Remote a bit more to the side, but keeping this in mind disappears along with rational thinking as soon the countdown kicks in. It’s for this reason that we like to stay in free practise and take things at our own pace.

What would be a relaxing inclusion becomes an against-the-clock panic that sometimes results in frustration as the Wii Remote refuses to recognise the side you’re attempting to row on.

Canoeing is a riot in multiplayer on the other hand, as it’s interesting to see how well your selected partners work together in a sport that relies so much on harmonious rowing. Cue much shouting and finger-pointing as the boat careers into a wooden log. Would you really have it any other way?

Conclusion: Wonderful in free practise, but your god-like rowing skills will be desecrated under the clock.

 

This one consumed many hours of our families’ lives over the past few Christmases. The original Wii Sports was pretty good for Bowling, despite the spin being easily manipulated, it was a fairly realistic attempt at the sport.

Everything seems to be pretty much the same here. Hold B and bring your arm back to approach the lane, then bring your arm forwards and release B to bowl. MotionPlus takes things up a notch however and is much more sensitive when it comes to spin. In fact, if you’ve gotten used to the sensitivity of Wii Sports Bowling, you may find it a little hard to readjust at first. If your hand is leaning slightly to the right when you bowl, you’re going to end up with a lot of gutter balls.

It’s the Bowling we all know and love, but the control accuracy has been improved tenfold.

This updated version of Bowling requires you to be more conscious of your actions, not too dissimilar to the real thing. After a few heated games of Swordplay, Table Tennis or Canoeing, the more relaxing nature of Bowling should again make it a popular multiplayer choice at parties or over Christmas.

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Just keep bowlin’, bowlin’, bowlin’, bowlin’…

In addition to the ordinary 10-pin bowling, 100-pin bowling also returns. As far as we could tell, there was no trick explosion shot to fell all of the pins at once, as the Wii Sports Resort version rather relies on pure skill. And when the lane is several metres across in width, don’t think it’ll be an easy task to knock everything down, especially when it comes to spares!

Spin Control is the third mode, and again returns in an enhanced form from the original Wii Sports. Stationary and moving barriers act as lane obstacles that you must work around to attempt to knock down all the pins at the bottom of the lane. The added spin available to you thanks to MotionPlus can make things both easy and difficult – the ball may go exactly where you want it to go if you have “mad skillz”, but then again, with the Remote now responding to every variable that could possibly affect it, you may have to do a little bit of training.

Conclusion: It’s the Bowling we all know and love, but the control accuracy has been improved tenfold.

If there was one thing that grated our cheese when it came to the original Wii Sports‘ Golf mode, it was the putting. You’re centimetres away from the hole – you’ve managed to force those meaty hands in gently nudging the Wii Remote just a little bit to push the ball that bit further and finish the course… But the game didn’t recognise your motion. Not to worry, you just need to swing a little harder- oh wait, it’s in the bunker. Fiddlesticks.

Your cat can breathe a sigh of relief, for the Wii Remote will no longer be catapulted carelessly across the room in fits of golf-induced rage.

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There’s more holes in the living room wall than on the golf course.

We’re pleased to announce that in addition to a much more accurate backswing, putting is now nigh-on perfect. Power judgement is also a lot less random than before, so your practise swings should actually count for something.

All of the courses from the original game return, in addition to a whole host of new ones for dad to school you on. This’ll definitely be a contender for one of the most-played multiplayer modes in Resort.

Conclusion: Golf is back, and it’s better than ever before. Four! (Five, actually.)

Cycling is possibly the most pointless addition of the lot – and it saddens us to say this, because the rest of the package is pretty much spot on. There’s no foot-strap tomfoolery here to give you that authentic pedalling experience, you simply grab the Wii Remote and Nunchuk… and waggle.

That’s right. Alternate your shakes to give your Mii a consistent pedalling rhythm, shake harder to sprint (but don’t get too carried away, or poor Adolf will exhaust himself terribly), and tilt to steer. Prevailing winds and slipstreaming from hordes of enemy cyclists provide a little bit more depth to this particular sport, but not much.

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Where it fails as an enjoyable sport, it succeeds in showing off the depth and breadth of Wuhu Island.

It’s not a great example of the capabilities of MotionPlus, but rather the potential of Shigeru Miyamoto’s island concept. Like jogging in Wii Fit, Cycling grants you access to several scenic island routes which you may recognise from the aforementioned jogging routes, and from various flights around the island in your biplane. When you look at it from this perspective, what could be, it doesn’t seem so bad.

It’s not a great example of the capabilities of MotionPlus, but rather the potential of Shigeru Miyamoto’s island concept.

It is saddening, and a little bit annoying, to play, as the presence of Cycling seems to serve as a reminder of the days when lazy developers would inflict heinous waggle-fests on the world (that’d be the present day, it’s still going on!). Perhaps this uninspired stark contrast to the other 11 sports serves as Nintendo’s way of drawing a line in the sand, between the waggly days of yore and the future of motion control… Perhaps they just really couldn’t be bothered developing a fully-functional, more inspired sport at a late stage in Resort‘s development…

Conclusion: A waggle-infested mess that does nothing to demonstrate what MotionPlus is truly capable of. ‘Steer’ clear. Ha!

As Reggie Fils-Aime so gracefully demonstrated to thousands of fans at E3 2008, Power Cruising is a spiritual follow-up to the Wave Race series (last seen on the GameCube in 2001). You take control of a jet ski – the Nunchuk and Wii Remote are your handlebars, the Wii Remote serving as the throttle that Reggie really got to grips with. Hold B to start your engine, steering with your controllers and twisting the Remote to force a quick speed boost out of your engine.

You wouldn’t want to cross this guy in a race.

You can take part in versus races or slalom courses, the latter being more difficult than you may think. Well-timed speed boosts are required to ensure you pass slaloms before a timer counts down completely, a task made increasingly more difficult by successions of powerful waves which threaten to rock your boat off-course. It’s trickier than it looks, and whilst MotionPlus isn’t really put to much use here, it’s a fun inclusion that will push your limits when it comes to beating your times on the leaderboard.

Conclusion: Your arms may ache after holding your “handlebars” through a deceptively tricky slalom course, but it’s a solid sport.

 

Fact: wakeboarding is named after the trail of water that the boat pulling the boarder leaves as it moves, the wake. In wakeboarding, you trail behind a speedboat, get some speed on and approach the wake from a good distance, quickly close in and clash with the wake to propel yourself into the air, preparing for landing as you try to remain upright and attached to your board.

The same applies in Wii Sports Resort, though it’s a little bit easier than real-life wakeboarding, we’d imagine (for instance, your Mii handily keeps his feet firmly planted on the board and rarely falls off, unless you manage to collide with a rock formation or a boat).

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Wake me up inside!

Using the Wii Remote, home into the wake to thrust your Mii into the air, and ensure a speed boost and some points by landing your board so that it is horizontal upon contact with the water. The aim is to get as many points as you can within the time limit. The best way to do this is to ensure you land correctly and don’t slow yourself down by falling in the water or cracking your Mii’s head open against a cruise liner, and to pull off stunts.

It’s certainly not a very deep experience, but it’s just fun to have a crack at beating your last high score every once in a while.

The stunt system is effectively the same as Mario Kart Wii‘s; once you’ve got some air, shake that Remote to do a fancy mid-air twirl. It’s not the most sophisticated of control methods, and we’d be quick to tar it with the same brush as the laziness that is Cycling were it not for the endearing feelings we developed for it. It’s certainly not a very deep experience, but it’s just fun to have a crack at beating your last high score every once in a while.

Conclusion: Short and primitive, but oh so loveable.

We love American dramatisations of basketball games. No matter what the rest of the game is like, fate is working like a crazy person to ensure that in the last few seconds, the match is evenly tied. Cue the interference of one determined player, Michael Jordan in Space Jam for instance, who refuses to give up and really goes for it, rushing past the opposing team’s hordes of players to slam dunk a winning basket with milliseconds to spare.

Before trying Basketball on Wii Sports Resort, we would laugh at this over-the-top representation of the sport… but it’s actually a true representation on certain levels. Reaching to your side and tapping B makes your Mii grab a basketball. The next step is to jump (it’s not necessary as an actual motion, but we kept doing it as an instant reflex for some reason) by raising the Remote above your head. Keeping it as straight as you can, or putting a bit of spin on it if necessary, fire the basketball into the ring. You need to do this as many times within the time limit as possible to score yourself a decent amount of points, and it gets increasingly more hectic and tense towards the end as you try to correct your mistakes and land some baskets.

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Where’s Bill Murray?

A 3-on-3 game is also available, and offers a bit more longevity than the aforementioned hoop-shooting. You’re randomly assigned a team of Miis, and must use A and B to pass backwards and forwards between players as you try to edge away from opponents and shimmy towards the net. Dribble by bouncing the Wii Remote, and try to keep it away from your opponent. The same principals apply in shooting as with the previous mode, except that now you also have to deal with your timing to make sure that Don Corleone’s Mii doesn’t block the shot or pimp-slap the ball out of your hand. Should this happen, you also have the option to attempt to steal the ball or block the opposition’s shot.

The little animation and replay of your Mii’s crowning achievement is really cute, and almost like a parody of the drama of American basketball films if you pull it off in the last few seconds!

Sometimes, if you manage to get incredibly close to the basket, you have a chance to go for a slam dunk, which is a free point providing you keep your hand steady. The little animation and replay of your Mii’s crowning achievement is really cute, and almost like a parody of the drama of American basketball films if you pull it off in the last few seconds!

Wii MotionPlus offers various control nuances that may not seem apparent at first, but you may come to appreciate and even master them over time. Despite its simplicity (it’s effectively NBA Lite), Basketball is a fun inclusion that will keep you coming back to either beat your high scores in shooting hoops, or in single- or multiplayer 3-on-3 games.

Conclusion: Simple on the surface but deeper intricacies lie beneath. Another multiplayer gem.

Wii Sports Resort is a sports game like no other, offering truly real experiences and incredibly fun multiplayer modes. Wii MotionPlus is here, it works, and it’s the future. Embrace it with open arms.

9/10

 

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