Truth be told, we still dust off Wii Sports from time to time and have an extended session of tennis or bowling.
Even three years down the track, the title that launched alongside the Wii is still darn good fun. When we started hearing rumours of an improved motion sensing system for the Wii-mote, we couldn’t wait to try it – and the game designed to showcase its capabilities. That day has arrived, and we’ve put Wii Sports Resort and the new Wii MotionPlus through their paces.
For those who haven’t heard of it, the MotionPlus is a small, plug-in accessory for the Wii remote, designed to track your movements more precisely, with an increased level of sensitivity and response. Installation of the MotionPlus device is simplicity itself, and there are onboard video tutorials to guide the technologically challenged. The MotionPlus ships with a rubberised ‘jacket’ which slips snugly over the whole remote for improved grip. It can easily be recalibrated should it misbehave while in use and from what we’ve seen, it certainly lives up to expectations, delivering a more realistic, more immersive feel to most of the sports.
The game is set on Wuhu Island – an idyllic holiday resort with more activities on offer than Club Med. There are 12 sports to try - each with different modes of play for a bit of extra variety, and all of the sports have single and multiplayer options. Playing solo is fun – at least for a while, but playing against real live opponents is far more so. Several activities require the nunchuck and others just the modified Wii remote. Some even allow you to select your dominant hand or playing style (e.g. manual or automatic ball release for bowling). Simple to follow onscreen prompts show you how to employ the correct techniques, so it’s pretty much foolproof.
At the end of each round, race or match your results are displayed in graph form. As your skill level increases you’ll earn rewards and be able to access more in-game options, which is a good incentive to keep striving for higher and higher scores. While there is no online leader board on which your proudest sporting moments can be witnessed by all, each game has a high score table, so you can see how you’re ranked against your friends and family. You can also win stamps, which are similar in nature to achievements.
Golf and bowling are the only two sports to make a return appearance, and the MotionPlus accessory has improved their enjoyment factor (no more wildly overpowered putts, or misinterpreted curve balls). If further proof were needed that the experience is now more realistic, one player strained exactly the same muscle Wii bowling as she does when hefting a 12 pound ball at the local Super Strike… ouch!
As well as the two favourites, the list of activities is rounded out by the following newcomers: air sports, archery, basketball, canoeing, cycling, frisbee, power cruising, swordplay, table tennis and wakeboarding. There is literally something for everyone, from the armchair umpire to the adrenaline junkie, and with plenty of audience participation from the sidelines it’s as entertaining to watch as it is to play. Some sports are more fun than others, and while the list of favourites is subject to individual preference, several were deemed the best of the bunch: archery, swordplay, table tennis and the player-controlled aerial tour of Wuhu Island. These were all activities our testers returned to again and again.
On the other side of the coin, frisbee, cycling and basketball (the 3-point game, not the 3-on-3 mode), proved least popular with those who tried them. Some comments were that the controls were too fiddly and unpredictable, or in the case of cycling, the actions too repetitive – plus pedalling a bike with your hands is just… odd.
A lot of thought has gone into making multiplayer accessible using a single, pimped-out Wii-mote. Take archery for instance; when it’s your opponent’s turn you simply ‘pass the baton’, so owning another one is not an issue. When engaging your friends in sports such as table tennis and sword play however, each player is required to have their own controller… which means investing in another MotionPlus accessory. Since Wii Sports Resort is at its very best in a group situation, we reckon the game should have shipped with two of the suckers, even if it did bump up the initial outlay. For the record, it is worth buying that second MotionPlus, but don’t waste your money on more. There’s only one sport (canoeing) in which you can use up to four of them, but in our opinion it doesn’t rate highly enough on the fun-meter to warrant the expenditure.
In the sound and graphics department, expect more of the same as we saw and heard in Wii Sports: bright, vivid colours, simple but charming locations populated by a selection of Miis (including player-generated ones), and a ‘summer holiday’ soundtrack which complements the setting quite nicely.
With its accessible-to-all-ages appeal, sheer variety and addictive, engaging gameplay, Wii Sports Resort is cheaper by far than a family holiday at Club Med… and promises many more hours of fun.