Wii Sports Resort Review
Back in '82, my brother and I had a months-long debate over which game console we'd request from our parents as our “big” Christmas present; he wanted the Atari 5200, and I was all about Colecovision. Our preferences had nothing to do with brand loyalty, hardware horsepower, or even the promise of each respective system's game line-up; nope, it was all about the all-important pack-in title—the 5200 was bundled with Pac-Man, and Colecovision with Donkey Kong. I imagine similar debates raged in living rooms around the country, but as console generations progressed, the once-standard practice of packaging a new platform with some out-of-the-box fun became a thing of the past. In 2006, Nintendo—the folks behind the all-time granddaddy of pack-ins, Super Mario Bros.--revisited the concept by including a copy of Wii Sports with every one of their new motion-sensing consoles.
The bold move was a stroke of genius, ensuring everyone from toddlers to senior citizens got a taste of the Wii-waggling fun. Wii Sports' accessible and addictive versions of golf, boxing, baseball, tennis, and especially bowling helped Nintendo conquer Sony and Microsoft in the console wars, while also introducing a brand new audience to a pastime that had previously presented too many hurdles. The enormous success of Wii Sports guaranteed we'd see a sequel, and sure enough, with Wii Sports Resort we're back in front of our televisions flailing our arms, working up a sweat, and smack-talking to our grandmas. The thing is, Nintendo's second take on virtual competitive sports is a stand-alone, $49.99 offering, not an included freebie. So, should Wii Sports' faithful following take the plunge for this new batch of sporty activities, or just stick to the virtual lanes, courts, fields, rings, and courses of the original?
Well, while it's unlikely WSR will win over those that didn't hop on the Wii-mote-waving bandwagon the first time around, those that have been looking for their next party game fix should absolutely get off the couch and fasten their wrist straps. The sequel is not only much bigger than the original (it boasts 12 games), but it's also a better, far more polished experience. This time out, the Mii-creating masses can dive into versions of basketball, frisbee, fencing, archery, wake boarding, canoeing, cycling, jet skiing, sky diving, table tennis as well as new takes on bowling and golf. As in the first title, the sports-inspired mini-games' fun-factor varies; some you'll return to again and again, while others you may try once and never go back to (I'm eyeballing you, cycling). But there's easily enough quality content here to ensure you'll be changing those Wii-mote batteries many times over in the coming months.
For me, the absolute best of the bunch is archery, table tennis, and fencing. In typical Wii immersion-amping fashion, archery has you holding the Wii-mote like a bow and pulling back the nunchuck like a string; with a release of the Z button, your arrow's sent flying towards its target. Moving targets, wind speed, and distance also factor in, adding lots of strategy to what could have been a mindless minigame. Table tennis, whether against an AI opponent or a real-life buddy, offers some fantastic, frantic fun, much like tennis did in the original. And the fencing makes LucasArts' previous attempts at Lightsaber dueling on the Wii look downright lame; whether you're whacking away at an opponent, trying to knock them off their platform, or taking on 100's of rampaging Miis in the “showdown” mode, you'll discover wielding the Wii-mote like a sword offers some of the title's biggest thrills.
But even most of the other entries, while not quite as good as these three, will keep you happily waggling for hours on end. Tossing a Frisbee at a Mii-like puppy is surprisingly engaging, the basketball three-point contests provide perfect bragging-rights fodder, and the jetskiing—where you'll hold the nunchuck and Wii-mote like handlebars—offers plenty of wind-in-your-face fun. The bowling and golf revamps are also nice additions. These two see an improvement over their predecessors because of the addition of WSR's use of WiiMotion Plus technology. The new peripheral, which comes packed with the game, plugs into the bottom of the Wii-mote, and adds an amazing degree of sensitivity and accuracy. You'll feel the difference right away, and appreciate the level of skill and strategy it brings to these pick-up-and-play games. Whether you're adding spin to your shots in table tennis, flicking your Frisbee at just the right angle, or blocking a blow from a virtual sword, you'll wonder how you ever played without this game-changing technology. It makes an obvious difference, and one, at first, that might even feel a little too sensitive to those used to the more forgiving Wii Sports controls. Stick with it though, and you'll be rewarded with accuracy and a real feeling of accomplishment whenever you deliver that game-winning shot, swing or maneuver.
With this new sensitivity also come the occasional annoyance of having to recalibrate the controller. It's not a big deal, but it does almost feel like a workaround for a bug that couldn't be ironed out. I almost expect Nintendo will release a WiiMotion Plus Plus in a year or so, that doesn't require recalibrating. My only other complaint regarding this technology, and the package as a whole, is that the game only comes with one WMP, yet all games require its use. So, if you want to play with friends and family—the best way to play a competitive title like this one—you'll have to pony-up for a second peripheral.
Even at that, though, I'd say it's worth investing in both the game and a second Wii Motion Plus add-on. If you're anything like the millions of Wii owners out there, you've probably spent countless hours in front of Wii Sports; well, picture that, multiplied several times over due to the addition of some great new games, and you'll get an idea of the entertainment value packed into WSR. Not everyone will love all the games, and again, if you weren't impressed by the original, this one probably won't win you over. However, if you are a fan—and spent as many hours as I did in Wii Sports' virtual bowling lanes—then visiting this Resort is a no-brainer.