massive sandbox areas; beautiful scenery; multiplayer exploration
frustrating motion controls; some shallow mini-games; poor framerate during multiplayer
Go Vacation, the latest in a long line of mini-game compilations developed for Wii, tries to position itself as something of a spiritual successor to Wii Sports Resort, but in truth the game bears more of a resemblance to PokéPark Wii. Beyond its resort-themed window dressing, Go Vacation is structurally very similar to Pikachu’s adventure, using its massive locales to frame its disparate mini-games into a unified package. This makes for an intriguing take on what is largely a stagnant genre, but a few serious faults keep Go Vacation from successfully reaching its lofty aspirations.
The entire game is set on Kawawii Island, a vacation resort comprised of four distinct hub areas: a sparkling beach, a sprawling city, a winding ski slope, and a pristine mountain retreat. Each locale is home to its own collection of appropriately-themed mini-games, all of which are played almost exclusively using gesture controls. The title also proudly supports just about every peripheral released for Wii, from the Balance Board to the Zapper shell, giving gamers an incentive to break out some of the underused accessories they’ve no doubt accumulated over the course of this generation.
The hub areas themselves are the most intriguing aspect Go Vacation, not least because of their expansive size. Each one displays an impressive level of detail in its construction, and they all genuinely feel like true vacation spots. Strewn about these resorts is an assortment of hidden treasures to find, encouraging players to comb every corner of the island when they are not engaged in one of its many activities. There are also a host of non-playable characters scattered about these areas, though the vast majority of them are curiously mute and cannot interact with you.
There is a strange disconnect between the invitingness of the resorts and the silence of the characters who populate them, but this is mostly rectified when you come across specific ones (typically drawn from your Mii collection) who wish to accompany you. These tagalongs do little more than mimic your actions as you travel about the different resorts, but the real fun of this feature depends upon how eclectic the denizens of your Mii Plaza are– on my first trip to Kawawii Island, for instance, I found a Speedo-clad Jackie Chan on the beaches of the Marine Resort. After inviting him to join me, we spent the rest of that particular session racing about on ATVs and exploring the dense jungle that encompassed the area. This, admittedly, contributes nothing to the gameplay, but it is simply amusing to see your Mii characters in a context so far removed from their actual personalities.
Go Vacation also supports local multiplayer, allowing up to four people to explore Kawawii Island simultaneously. The game becomes much more engaging when played with a couple of friends, and you can easily spend hours just fooling around its massive hub areas. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of the framerate, which dips considerably when shared between other players, but it is still preferable to exploring the island on your own. Each person has the freedom to wander about the resort at their leisure, and you will all instantly reconvene whenever someone initiates a mini-game. These, too, are much more satisfying when played with other people, compensating for their general lack of depth with simple fun.
The mini-games themselves are a mixed bag, ranging from enjoyable to nearly broken. There are over fifty activities divided up among the four resort areas, all of which can be accessed individually from the main menu (once they’ve been played in the game proper). As mentioned above, each one relies heavily upon gesture controls, which more often than not hampers their playability. The large number of mini-games also means there is quite a bit of overlap between the activities here and those found in the two Wii Sports titles, which execute them far more successfully than Go Vacation does. On a more positive note, the long list of activities also guarantees that you will find a handful of mini-games you genuinely enjoy playing, but even these are likely to incite some degree of frustration due to their poor controls.
In fact, the controls are easily the worst aspect of Go Vacation, nearly crippling the entire experience with their misguided gesture commands. Each scheme varies depending upon your mode of transportation, but they all follow roughly the same template: steering is handled by turning the Wii Remote and Nunchuck in tandem, while jumping is performed by holding the B button and flicking the Wii Remote upward. Not every activity is hindered by this obsessive reliance on motions– rollerblading handles much like cycling does in Wii Sports Resort and actually feels quite satisfying, and motorized vehicles, while imprecise due to the lack of analog control, are still very much a pleasure to drive– but on the whole the game suffers severely for their implementation.
This would be forgivable if the controls did not impede the actual gameplay, but many of the activities are rendered nigh unplayable thanks to the title’s insistence on using gesture commands– snowboarding is handicapped by the need to constantly flick the Wii Remote to gain speed, and scuba diving is more an exercise in frustration than a serene experience. Had the game gone with a more conventional control method, it would have made an excellent addition to any family’s library; as it stands, only the most forgiving of gamers will be able to enjoy the title in spite of such a glaring flaw.
As a mini-game compilation, Go Vacation falls short of the standard set by Wii Sports Resort due to its middling selection of activities and its frustrating motion controls; as a sandbox game, however, it fares significantly better, offering up four expansive resorts to explore and a myriad of collectibles to find. While its extensive use of gesture commands nearly ruins the entire experience, there is still quite a bit of fun to be had with the title, particularly if you have a companion to share it with. Those looking for a light sandbox game will find some enjoyment in Go Vacation’s beautiful, sprawling locales, but everyone else will likely be more satisfied choosing Wii Sports Resort for their multiplayer fix.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.