Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer: Nintendo EAD Group 2
Wii Sports Resort is a sequel to the hugely popular pack-in game that was bundled with the Nintendo Wii when it first launched. Back in 2006, the original game did a great job of introducing players to the Wii controller and set the tone for the accessibility associated with the Wii itself.
In 2009, Nintendo is once again banking on a Wii Sports title to sell a new piece of hardware to consumers. This time, the add-on peripheral ‘Wii Motion Plus’. Its selling a far more subtle concept this time though. I’ve been asked a few times by people who’ve played Wii Sports Resort with me what *specifically* the Wii Motion Plus does but I find it hard to articulate an answer. I’m not even sure I understand it myself. It’s just supposed to be more accurate at measuring…something.
Reflecting its nature as a full fledged retail product, Wii Sports Resorts has three times as many different sports/activities as the original, giving us twelve in total. Old favourites ten-pin bowling and golf make a return and are bolstered by the addition of new games such as archery and canoeing.
It’s a mixed bag. In fact, I’d say over half of the activities and games are either uninteresting or run too long for the type of social environment that Wii Sports Resort will be played in.
Having said that, the few gems in there that really work are so much fun and so well designed that it makes Wii Sports Resort easy to recommend as a go-to game in a social environment. I’m talking specifically about table tennis, swordplay and the basketball free-throw contest. They all have an intangible charm and quality about them that make them ‘fun’ but they also share some very basic and sound design choices: the games are short, the controls can be explained in under 10 seconds and the controls are a reasonable facsimile of how you would perform the same action in real life. These ingredients help make these games reach as wide an audience as possible. It also encourages first time players when real life skill translates into success in the game. Its not uncommon for a skillful table tennis player to have their real life talent translate almost immediately into in-game finesse.
To a lesser extent, bowling and archery are also pretty entertaining games but I think both tend to run a little long. It can also be a bit fiddly adding the nunchuk accessory for the archery game only to have to remove them for most of the other activities.
Ultimately, Wii Sports Resort has some of the best traits of both party games and snack sized Iphone games. Its hugely accessible to a wide audience, has an excellent balance between skill and luck and the best games can be played in a matter of minutes which leads to a great pass-the-controller environment where everyone can have a go.
I still don’t really know what Wii Motion Plus does but I can emphatically state that Wii Sports Resort is a wonderful advertisement for it and a great game in its own right.