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Wii Sports Resort Box Art

Wii Sports Resort

The first Wii game nearly every Wii owner played was Wii Sports. In a way, that little pack-in game set a tone for the critical review of future Wii games and the system as a whole. It was fun, even better with a few friends. It got you off the couch and made plenty of smiles, but the features were a little shallow.

You couldn't manage your baseball team in some franchise mode. You couldn't bowl some professional league.

The characters didn't have arms.

Yet Wii Sports became a generational game, one that the media will identify with our culture. Kids used it to lose weight. Seniors used it to rehab injuries. And above all else, it was maybe the most realistic video game adaptation of the motions involved in sports.

So a "Wii Sports 2" was a certainty. And in a way, so was Wii MotionPlus. The two molded into Wii Sports Resort, the latest in what might be considered "The Wii Something" series. It takes 12 total sports experiences, adds a higher level of motion sensitivity (mostly improving on the fun-first formula with four and a half strong additions), two solid sport holdovers and one outstanding fight.

Archery and Frisbee are the simplest of the good, but pretty entertaining in their relaxing nature. While Archery doesn't break any molds in technology, it's a solid and honest representation. Frisbee is another fun diversion, but does show the accuracy of the hardware as each twist and lean is reproduced in the effect. Frisbee Golf is a slick addition to bring the disc to the golf course for another way to play.

The Island Flyover may become the favorite of many players. On its own, it's a better version of Wing Island, with a decent free mode and some interesting areas to explore. The controls are identical to that game, holding the remote like a paper airplane, and it's a fun, lighthearted ride that produces a true sense of freedom. The only drawback is the 5-minute time limit.

Table Tennis is a nice tone down from the full doubles tennis of the original. It's fast and reactionary, but with enough lifelike spin control for some advanced moves. Unlike Tennis, where the player's movements were controlled by the system, Table Tennis chooses the forehand or backhand side based on how players hold their "paddle." It's not direct control, but it's enough to feel in command.

The same goes for Basketball's 3-Point Contest. It's a quick and simple play -- basketball's version of a home run derby -- and takes the good part of Resort's simulation of the sport and eliminates the boring dribbling, defense, and limited control of the Pickup Game option. The shooting is accurate and the misses are correctable with the expected motion. That's what is most satisfying, that players know why they miss. It's a reminder that the addition of Wii MotionPlus really can create a great interface.

It was also something of a surprise to see Bowling and Golf back on the lineup. In a way, they may be there to prevent players from needing to load Wii Sports for those experiences. Bowling is the better of the two, and is mainly identical to the offerings in the original, with a slight tweak on Spin Control and Power Bowling games. But pins still move realistically and the sensitivity on the wrist movements is even greater. Golf adds in a full 18-hole course -- the original nine holes plus plus a new nine -- and again adds motion tweaks that now react to a less-than-perfect hook and slice.

But the entire package is really worth the price for the Swordplay alone. It's without a doubt the highlight of the game and answers a lot of questions of how Wii can handle a real sword fighting game. Resort does a surprisingly wonderful job of being both natural to play and incredibly fun.

The sword mimics the Wii Remote exactly. Players can hold it over their heads or drag it on the ground at their sides. This isn't gesture fighting, and it's hard to trick the system into a swing. The Wii Remote truly acts as a representation of the sword, with real swings and motions. All three game modes within Swordplay -- the one-on-one Duel, the technical Speed Slice, and the melee Showdown -- bring value to the sport with unique modes.

The only button to push is the B trigger, which initiates the block mode to deflect incoming attacks, but those still require the correct and natural orientation of the sword. It's a very fluid game that produces fast action sequences that feel like the acrobatic fights kids envision with their friends.

Best of all, it's almost as good against the computer as it is with a friend. Like many Wii titles, Resort is best shared with a friend, especially Table Tennis. But many of the games hold up as a single player experience, especially Swordplay. It's more a bonus than anything, as most will go in thinking this as a party game. But it is impressive none-the-less, particularly considering the added cost of purchases additional Wii MotionPlus accessories.

Unfortunately, a few of the sports are mostly forgettable. Canoeing is a cool tech demo, but ultimately too repetitive for a good game. The same goes for Power Cruising, a jet ski ride that just isn't varied or interesting enough to be enjoyable. Wakeboarding felt promising, but tricks are performed automatically and skill is reduced to flattening the board at landing. Cycling is the best of the lower bunch and has some level of excitement, but it feels more like a frantic mini game with little riding skill beyond timing when to peddle slow or fast.

Even the sports that miss the mark bring something to the table. All the motions accurately recreate their real-life counterparts, which is impressive as an aside. The water in the three water sports is realistic enough, and the game succeeds visually through solid direction in camera angles and viewpoints. Little touches like the mixed cameras in the Wakeboarding and the tight lines in Cycling create a solid feel. The Island Flyover provides the best vistas with some nice lighting on the resort, and the entire game is crisp enough for a solid background to the action.

So like most compilations, Wii Sports Resort brings the good with the bad. But it's mostly good. It will still receive complaints for the limited game modes and the lack of control over character movements, but these criticisms still miss the point. It's another easy-to-learn, fun-to-play, great-with-the-family game, with realistic and satisfying motion controls to boot.

And most of the time, in case you were wondering, the characters still have no arms.

final score 8.5/10

Staff Avatar Dave Magliano
Staff Profile | Email
"Tiger uppercut!!"

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