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May 29, 2015

Wii Sports Resort (Part 1)

After I finished my rather, uh, abrasive review of Mario Kart DS last Monday, I realize I was still in the mood for a sport game. Mario Kart is, after all, a very silly version of racing, what with the power-ups, the shells, the other items, the ******* powersliding, and so on. It’s as far from real racing as a chimp is from a squid. That’s weird, I wanted to do something sports-related. Just Dance 2015 was just waiting there for me. So I went ahead and played a couple songs… and then went on to try playing the old Wii Sports game again. Because I’d rather play video games than do real sports.

Oh, no worries there, it’s still fun aplenty. Sure, compared to everything else people have come up with for the Wii, it’s far from impressive. But still very enjoyable for a quick bowling match, or to hit a few balls. Maybe even a tennis match, if you’re in the mood. Or perhaps would you prefer to play golf? For maximum enjoyment, also try out the Training section!

Anyway, the game, which was shipped with the Wii for a couple of years, soon found itself outclassed. Then came the idea of MotionPlus Wii remotes. Those little blocks were originally plugged into the remote and were supposed to ameliorate the movement detection. As a result, the later Wii remotes all contained MotionPlus when you bought them. And I can understand why; who doesn’t like it when the remote works even better than before? However, when the MotionPlus thingy was put on the market, we ended up with a few games that specifically required it; as a result, you couldn’t play these games with the old remotes. It's the case for today's game.

As for Wii Sports Resort itself, just admit it: The original Wii Sports had only five sports, and you could get tired of it pretty fast. The "series" desperately needed a new installment, one that expanded on the idea of Miis playing sports for fun, one that would offer a larger selection of sports, with achievements, variations… Nintendo of Japan didn’t even wait for us to ask. And indeed, we received. Wuhu Island is waiting for you. Let’s dive right in… Wii Sports Resort!

AAAAAAAAH! I didn’t mean it literally! The first thing your Mii does in this game is landing on Wuhu Island… by skydiving! In that minigame, you must control your character’s freefall by twisting the Wii remote in your hand, keeping it stable to slow down the descent or pointing it down to accelerate it. You must also try to hook with as many freefalling Miis as possible, then put on your best smile for a Mii photograph. You get points for every Mii you touched before the picture. The freefall ends after a bit (where your Mii has to fall through circles of other Miis), and you get a score. There you are: Wuhu Island! A world of myths, of ecosystems, of happy people, of village people (No, not the “YMCA” guys), of great sportsmanship! There’s a legend about the place being alive, but you know how rumors spread around. No one in their right mind would believe that a location can be alive!

…but then again, in the world of fiction…

Yeah, alright. Though I really wonder how the people of Wuhu Island take that kind of thing. Wouldn't it be annoying if the villagers all had to drop whatever they're doing and go skydiving because new people are coming to the island?

That’s pretty much where the plot ends, as the rest of the game is just playing sports at your leisure. Before going to the sports menu, you can leave the title menu running and see the last things your Mii (and others) have done in Wii Sports Resort. A fun little cutscene where the last Miis used to play are together, shaking their hips to the music, as the last matches played and the latest earned achievements scroll on the screen. Neat.

The sports menu is divided in 12 sections, and each section has one to three variations of the same sport (or type of sport). Just because I have nothing better to do, here’s the complete list.
-Swordplay: Duel, Speed Slice, Showdown. Just be thankful they’re not playing with real swords, or Mii heads would be rolling!
-Wakeboarding: Or how to swing on the sea. …Not that way, you dirty mind.
-Frisbee: You either play on a beach, tossing it to a dog, or you’re tossing it on golf fields, trying to get as close to the hole as possible. Please do not combine the two. Dogs don’t like being thrown on golf fields.
Ready, aim, shoot arrow! Avoid the knees!
-Archery: Self-explanatory. Channel your inner Everdeen – or your inner Legolas, or your inner Link, or your inner Green Archer, or whatever… and show them what a gamer can do!
-Basketball: You can choose between the 3-Point Contest (trying to get as many basketballs into the net as possible) or a 3-VS-3 match called Pickup Game. No cheating with taller Miis!
-Table Tennis: A 1-on-1 Match, or a Return Challenge.
-Golf: Still the same, though now you have two sets of nine holes to try out. Ironically, the golf courses aren’t located on Wuhu Island; rather, they’re on a smaller island, a little far from Wuhu, and it’s a place for golf only. I imagine it as the place where uptight businessmen and other rich people go, because they only want to play golf. Well, at least they’re nice enough to lend the golf courses to the people of Wuhu Island…
-Bowling: You can choose between the Standard 10-pin Game, the special 100-Pin Game (this one’s great!) or the rather annoying Spin Control.
Go through the gates... of madness! ...No, wait, they're
actually normal.
-Power Cruising: You can try to beat a Slalom Course, or race against another player in a VS match. Like Wakeboarding, you can choose NOT to do the actual sport and just go cruising around for five minutes. Dawww. (17)
-Canoeing: Try a Speed Challenge, or go against someone else in a VS race. Arguably one of the more tiring sports, but still very fun. (19)
-Cycling: Pick between Road Race (Hey! Put down that crowbar! I said “race”, not “rage”!) or VS. (21)
-Air Sports: You can go skydiving again, in case you didn’t do too well the first time (that’s what happens when you get thrown directly into the action, without so much as a tutorial to help!), or you can do an Island Flyover, where you must explore every single part of the island in your own personal plane. That, or you can enter a Dogfight against another player. (24)

Once again, Wii Sports is great to play alone, but it’s even better to play it with friends. Among those 24 events, there’s only one mode that cannot be played with friends, and it’s Island Flyover. In fact, consider that one as a “Story Mode” of sorts. Not because it’s a story, but because it forces you to explore every portion of Wuhu Island. I’ll take a more complete look at it in Part 2.

The dog is already a Pro. He just doesn't care.
Remember, in Wii Sports, the “Pro” distinction? It’s back. I mentioned it a while ago, in my Top 12 Nintendo Bonus Challenges; basically, every time you play a sport, you get (or lose) points based on your performance in the sport. The numbers can reach 1,000 and even go beyond, and when you hit that milestone, you are considered a “pro” at that sport by the game. What does it do? Um… not much, really. It’s mostly for bragging rights, and anything else that changes in the game is purely cosmetic. Hey who doesn’t like trading a boring bowling ball without patterns for one that has STARS on it? I mean, do you have any idea how much those cost? It’s like, maybe, zero cent more expensive! Whoooo! You can see Wuhu Island spared no expense to reward its top bowlers!

Fun fact: My parents and I have all gone Pro at bowling, because that’s pretty much the only sport they both want to play when we have a Wii family gaming evening. My mother will sometimes try cycling, basketball, archery or ping-pong, but that’s it.

After you went skydiving, powercruising and wakeboarding,
table tennis just looks boring.
Still no luck for the other sports, though. Many of the sports in this game don’t attract me, so I play them less often. But that’s normal. Everyone has things they like and other things they dislike in games. So becoming a Pro feels like a walk in the park for some sports, and like a chore for others. The sports I don’t like will take much longer for me to become a Pro at. …Again, it’s not like it’s necessary. There’s no “100% completion” thing here, nothing that keeps track of all the achievements you’ve unlocked, nothing that pushes – no, forces – you to be more performant in the sports you don’t like.

That is… until you notice said achievements. They’re not easy to notice, since they can be viewed only before you start playing the sport minigame (that little “Press A to begin” screen), but they’re there. Only five achievements per sport (including the distinctive forms of each, like the three different forms of swordplay, the three different forms of bowling, etc.). But trust my word: Those five achievements are hard as Hell to get. Oh sure, with some perseverance, you might be able to get one, maybe two, even three on each sport if you’re really good. But the hardest achievements are insanely difficult to get. Scoring 300 points at bowling? That’s hard. Scoring 3,000 points at 100-pin bowling? I don’t think I’ll ever achieve that. Seriously, some of these achievements are crazy. Don’t play this game with the goal, in your mind, to go Pro in every single sport and get every achievement. Well, going Pro in some sports is reasonable. Trying to get one or two achievements in every sport is reasonable. Getting everything is almost impossible. …On second thought, drop the “almost”. Nothing stops you from trying… but you’ll probably give up.

But all things considered, the achievements for Table Tennis
do sound kinda badass. "Table Titan" just screams awesome.

And you’ll probably give up for physical reasons, too. I appear to have been forgetting this so far in the review: This game can be downright exhausting. Really tiring for the arms. In all fairness, I actually like Wii games that make you feel tired after a while. It’s like an alternative to actual sports. …Some people will disagree, but I think I just said something stupid. As you might also guess, not all the sports in this game are so tiring. Still, after you spend a while playing any sport in this game, you might start feeling exhausted. The game even encourages you to take breaks every once in a while!

If your arms hurt while canoeing, perhaps you would be
tempted to attack the poor lil' duckies. Please don't.
In fact, that seems to be rather common in Wii games that make you move a lot with the remote. I can kind of understand; after all, no one wants you to feel pain in your arms from playing too much. However, there is a little thing that kind of annoys me. Oh, nothing major, but it’s still noticeable. You’ll see that, before the first sport you play and every few matches afterwards, Wii Sports Resort will ask you to put down the Wii remote on a table and stop touching it. After a few seconds, if the remote isn’t moving, the remote symbol on the screen will say OK. To put it simply, Wii Sports Resort has to re-calibrate the Wii remote every few matches. That’s a small defect, but it’s there. I suppose it has to do with the fact that this game MUST be played with the MotionPlus accessory, before it was implemented into all the Wii remotes. And to make sure it would never fail on the player, the developers made sure the player could always recalibrate the Wii remote. Of course, they force the player to do it every once in a while… even if the player can do it at any moment when they press Start!

There’s still quite a bit to discuss about this game, so I’m going to add a second part to this review and cover everything else this Monday. I’ll be looking at the “progression” sports, the Island Flyover sport, and make a short list of my least favorite sports, before going back on all my points of criticism. Be there Monday for Part 2!