I was one of those people that hated the original Wii Sports. I thought it was a shameless marketing ploy in a box, a hastily assembled hodgepodge of tech demos designed to show off Nintendo’s gimmicky new motion controls. My demonstrations that the motion sensitivity was fairly artificial prompted plenty of eye-rolling from my more casual-gamer friends, and I never gave the game much of a second thought. It’s a bit telling then, given my history of disdain, that I actually enjoy the summer-themed sequel, Wii Sports Resort.
It’s got everything to do with the bundled Wii Motion Plus device. After seeing this little magic box (which gloms onto the bottom of your Wii Remote) in action, I’m convinced that the Wii should have been packing this technology to begin with. But, of course, now Nintendo can sell us the system’s intended functionality for a mere $24.99 per additional unit. Know that this mandatory gizmo makes all the difference, but don’t forget how many you’ll need to buy if you’re a party gamer.
And really, that’s what Wii Sports Resort is built for. It’s made for multiplayer, and ups the original’s five-game count to a tidy dozen summer sports, outright replacing the first Wii Sports in every way (well, unless you’re a die-hard fan of the old boxing or baseball games, the only things not recreated in some form here). You pick a sport, pretend the controller is a sword, Frisbee, bow, or what have you, and let loose. Yeah, you still look like a tool to whoever’s watching — no way around that — but the act of carrying out these virtual activities is a lot more intuitive and well-executed.
Archery is the perfect example (and, judging from how well it went over with my buddies, it’s destined to become the hands-down favorite game of the bunch). You hold the Wii Remote and Nunchuk out in front of you, hold a couple buttons, draw back the Nunchuk (the “bowstring”), and aim at a target. The reticule is a large circle — beyond that and a general indication of the current wind mileage and direction, you just have to feel it out. And it really works; my aim quantifiably improved with practice, and the lack of a precise targeting UI didn’t inhibit my progress (although the moving target, lava pools, and obstacles on the last course certainly did). My other favorite mini-game is Frisbee golf, where you choose from a trio of flying discs (standing in for various grades of golf clubs) and do your damnedest to get them onto the green under par. I’m too terrible at this particular game for words, but it’s a great concept that works well, even if I do routinely get my ass kicked at it.
Of course, Wii Sports Resort has its duds. Cycling, for instance, feels like a mismatch for the control scheme: You pedal by rotating your arms as though they were your legs, and lean left and right to steer, which — at least if you’re me — gets tiring pretty damn fast. Wakeboarding’s another fairly dull game, as it fundamentally consists of holding the controller flat and repeatedly jerking it up on either side. Bowling — not exactly my sport — still looks and plays like it did the first time around, with more nuanced sensitivity this time out.
In any case, the good-to-bad ratio is overwhelmingly in the former’s favor; the only question most Wii owners need to ask themselves about this game is whether they have enough friendly get-togethers to justify it, as it’s made to be played in groups. Give it a shot. Most of the mini-games are surprisingly skill-based, and even Wii Sports haters should find something to enjoy. I definitely did.