To be honest, this is where most of our interest lies. While we're happy to play a bit of Wii Sports when the occasion calls for it, we've spent way more hours on our Wii lost in Zelda or Super Mario Galaxy -- we're that sort of gamer. So while we're happy to traipse around Nintendo's ultra-happy Wii Sports Resort wonderland, we're much more curious as to how well the technology of MotionPlus holds up, and what it promises for more immersive, engaging experiences.
Overall? Two thumbs up. Sure, it's lame that an add-on is necessary -- it would've been nice to have all this power the first go 'round -- but the add-on does the trick and really does offer some impressive motion tracking. The main drawback of the controller is that it occasionally gets slightly off-kilter, at which point it's usually smart enough to ask you to re-orient it. Luckily, it's easy enough to set the controller face down and let it right itself. It's not perfectly ideal, but it's not a big hassle either. Microsoft and Sony will obviously have an advantage for re-orienting, with their camera-based systems, but the added complexity of those systems also means more opportunities for funkiness. At least MotionPlus feels like a known quantity, and doesn't involve any voodoo or know-how to get it back on track (or to set it up in the first place).
We wouldn't say any of the games offered in Wii Sports Resort offer any "true" 1:1 tracking, but of course if you were actually doing something with 1:1 motion, you'd probably need a bigger room to play in. Nintendo has struck a good balance between "on-screen responsiveness" and "not smacking your sister in the face." Almost everything feels right, however. Subtle movements and sudden twists all enact a predictable response on-screen and in gameplay -- you feel like you're as much "there" as you'd really want to be. It's still possible to play some of the games in "lazy mode," but it's certainly more difficult than it was in Wii Sports -- simple flicks won't always do.
This is more a review of the potential of MotionPlus than a review of Wii Sports Resort, and we've already mentioned that we're not big minigame fanatics. Those caveats aside, here are a few of our thoughts on the games present:
- Frisbee: We suck at frisbee. We suppose much of that could be the fact that we actually know how to throw a for-realsies frisbee, and this just doesn't feel like throwing a real frisbee. Naturally, the motion-tracking is spot on, but it lacks in the delicacy of release. The disc also doesn't seem to fly quite right -- due to a seeming shortage of physics. Of course, we're probably just making excuses for the fact that we suck.
- Power Cruising: It's like Wave Race, but not very fun somehow. The steering is easy enough to grasp, and quite sensitive, but the overall game is simplistic and very boring.
- Swordplay: This is the real winner in our book, especially thanks to the mode where you get to mow down Mii assailants with your mighty plastic sword. The VS. mode is a real blast with a friend, but we had little trouble going pro when up against the computer. We still felt a lack of depth, but at least it's a **cathartic lack of depth. We just need a Zelda game and a Star Wars game to implement this exact sword system and we'll die happy.
- Table Tennis: Another great game and probably offers the best VS. mode outside of swordplay, but it sure is short on options.
- Golf: It adds draw and fade, just like the new Tiger Woods, but overall felt like Wii Sports golf to us.
- Air Sports: The dog fight mode is a blast and a great demonstration of the controller technology, but the gameplay isn't very well designed or balanced.
- Basketball: A nice diversion, but another game lacking in depth. We did enjoy the detailed shooting motion, however, which picks up on aim, timing and even backspin. It felt like all those hours of free throw practice in our backyard finally paid off. Almost. Word of warning, however: a family member managed to break a lightbulb with this one, demonstrating the fact that vertical space is a whole new danger zone in Wii Sports Resort.
- Archery: Another fun control scheme that needs to be instantly transplanted into the next Zelda title, but the actual "game" of trying to get more points gets old pretty fast.
- Cycling: It's a bit of a workout, and there's some camera wonkiness, but it actually provides a lot more depth in gameplay than the other racing titles, thanks to the drafting and pacing aspects.
- Bowling: It's supposed to have slightly more detailed control, but we didn't feel it. Still, Wii Sports bowling really didn't need much refinement.
- Canoeing: Quite a lot of fun for a lap or two, but seems hastily put together.
- Wakeboarding: Doesn't seem like it needs MotionPlus, but it's another fun way to spend 15 minutes.
Most of the games unfortunately rely on some innate desire to win high scores, which has held little appeal for us ever since our glorious Tetris days. Sure, you get the right amount of testosterone in the room and everything's a competition, but we'd much rather spend our time shooting our friends in the face (virtually, of course) or destroying them in table tennis than showing them how many fake points we can score doing fake tricks over fake wake.
Like we said before, everybody is going to buy this game. Plus, once you get one MotionPlus add-on (the one that's included in the box), you're just $60 away from buying three more like a crazy person. To be honest, you'll get a lot more fun out of the game with one more MotionPlus attachment for head-to-head competitions, but there aren't really any scenarios where it helps having four. That's good news for your wallet, bad news for your impatient friends who didn't come over to watch you shoot pretend airballs. Wii Sports Resorts hits stores on July 26th for $50.