a review of Wii Sports Resort
a videogame developed by nintendo
and published by nintendo
for the nintendo wii
text by tim rogers
(our original wii sports review)
Our problem with the original Wii Sports was not, as our beloved haters will tell you, that it was “popular”, that it was “casual”, that it was “Nintendo”, that we have “something against Nintendo” — it was that it was shallow, pandering, boring, one-dimensional dime-store trash, that it was thrown-together, disingenuous, ugly, and not nearly one one thousandth as much “fun” as a tiny bit of imagination would have allowed it to be, even given the then-current newness of the technology. Our opinion was not that grandma should stay the hell away from our games console, it was that grandma actually deserved a much better-put-together game.
Here’s Wii Sports Resort, then: it’s fantastically entertaining. We’re giving it four stars. Then we subtract one whole star for an abstract selection of reasons that fall under the classification “general bullstuff”.
One of those reasons is the Wii Motion Plus accessory itself. Oh, it’s not that we don’t like the Motion Plus. It’s wonderful. The first game we played in Wii Sports Resort was fencing, and we lolled like slit hyenas to behold the accuracy of the range of motion. Then there was frisbee, and the hilarity ensued. It was only when one of us dared to question the proceedings: “Isn’t this, like, what the Wii remote was supposed to do all along?” The laughing stopped, for a few reflective moments.
We remembered that video that Nintendo showed at the Tokyo Game Show in 2006, where various dopey people pretended to be dentists, or scared of zombies. When the Nintendo Wii came out, the integration of motion controls was, to put it lightly, flagrantly insulting. Do you know why people stood up and pretended to be actually swinging tennis rackets when they played Wii Sports Tennis? Because they were either
4. Humoring their gamer grandchildren!
Should one not possess the “F” (“heckbag”) classification on their driver’s license, one can and will realize that it is terrifyingly possible to play and win an entire match of Wii Sports Tennis with both minimal knowledge of games and less wrist motion than it takes to get a moderate-sized dong to half-mast.
Nothing about Wii Sports can be described as “elegant”, even the menus. The game is — no, let’s put it in the past tense, let’s say “was” — a hideous beast, from the marketing right down to the graphics. We did a search, just now, for news stories re: videogames circa the Wii’s launch date, and one of the more important ones relays the information that Nintendo was seemingly proudest of the fact that they would not lose money on the Wii’s launch — in fact, they expected to turn a profit. On the one hand, no one should probably buy a video game console, much less a microwave oven, made by a company whose five-year plan is to lose money. On the other hand, when you look at more recent comments from Nintendo, you realize that in order to accomplish the goal of not losing money, Nintendo was willing to release what Wii Sports Resort reveals with grand fanfare was a fundamentally compromised (morbidly gimped) version of their original vision.
Here’s where we point out that the Wii’s “original vision” was the result of — thanks again, Google — a big brainstorming pow-wow to the purpose of “reinventing” Nintendo’s “image”. This pow-wow also produced ideas such as a big plastic controller that looked something like “Hungry Hungry Hippos”, with a giant star button in the middle instead of four hippo heads. It’d also be prudent to point out that the idea that ended up actually becoming the Nintendo Wii basically amounted to “play Nintendo DS games on your television, minus one screen and the tactile sensation of actually touching the stylus to the screen”. It’s equally worth noting that the idea for the DS was born when Satoru Iwata saw a television commercial for the Sony EyeToy in what we in advertising call “The Golden Window” (four minutes before sensing the urgency of a coming bowel movement), entered his executive toilet, engaged the bidet because he enjoys making everything feel “like a game”, and then screamed “Eureka!”
The Sony EyeToy commercial that aired on Japanese television is interesting. We have mentioned it in a previous review for . . . some other game, on this website. We are going to mention it again, right here. First, we are going to mention that, according to EyeToy “pioneer” Phil Harrison, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan was not pleased with the EyeToy. They said it was a stupid idea, that Japanese people had never played and would never play video games with their friends, that what they really wanted were more RPGs that men were afraid to play with their bedroom doors unlocked, lest their mothers walk in to see them crying. The television commercial for the EyeToy was a reflection of Sony Computer Entertainment Japan’s hatred of money. On the commercial, Konishiki, the Fattest Sumo Wrestler in History — he’s Samoan, or something — stands so close to an EyeToy-equipped television that his projected image covers the entire screen. He then jiggles his body very slightly, while a little Japanese girl standing behind him yells and complains about how he’s “cheating”. “No fair!” she yells.
Wow. To put this into perspective, this is like if Nintendo circa 1986 were to have a television commercial where a kid is playing Duck Hunt from his family sofa, grinning and yaying, and then suddenly his stepdad walks in in a wife beater, calls him a “little stuff”, calls him a “&^#$#”, says “no wonder your dad ate his rifle”, snatches the Nintendo Zapper out of the kid’s hands, and proceeds to press it right up against the television screen. “Stupid hecking game!” Then he takes a full, unopened beer can out of his boxers and throws it so it hits the kid in the head.
You simply don’t play up the shortcomings of your product in a commercial. It makes you look incompetent. Even in today’s irony-drenched pop-sphere, this is a no-no. It’s okay for a beer commercial to have a lol about how beer commercials always seem to portray bikini models in the presence of average Joe Sixpack figures; it is not, however, quite right for a beer commercial to show a guy get drunk and then happily drive his SUV off a bridge.
We once saw this commercial for Comcast on-demand cable, say, back in like 1999. A repulsive fat man sits on his sofa, repeatedly clicking a remote control while staring vacantly at a television. Then his absolutely normal-looking wife comes by, takes the remote from his hand, and says, look, we have on-demand cable now. You can just look at a list of shows that are currently on, and then choose which one you want to watch! The guy says “Oh. Thanks, dear.” Then, he waits for her to go. When she’s gone, he resumes vacantly clicking. Wow! What kind of psychopath pumped his fist in the Brain Room the day that one got greenlighted? A successful commercial should acknowledge a Problem, present a Solution, and then (optional) end with Something Clever, preferably occurring in the world that has changed (subtly or drastically) thanks to the Solution to the Problem.
Don’t worry — this is connected to Wii Sports Resort.
It’s important to understand that Wii Sports Resort is a Japanese product, and that television advertisements in Japan tend to be very short. The best Japanese television ads flow like extensions of print advertisements, and many of them are, quite frankly perhaps the highest form of modern art. The ad campaign that brought Nintendo back to the forefront of Japanese pop-culture featured a respected dramatic actress naturally and simply enjoying Brain Training on her Nintendo DS. We never even saw the game on the screen; we only recognized that she was holding a DS. A dozen or so similar, brief, tasteful, sometimes funny ads followed.
In the now, however, Nintendo is clueless. With the launch of the DSi, they put out a commercial where two chronically a-fashionable human caricatures who have ritualistically destroyed their personalities in the name of “entertainment” stand and talk “popular” “comedic” gibberish for ten seconds. It should be noted that Japanese “comedy” is terrible trash, in general, and that no comedians in Japan actually respect themselves, much less their audiences. They approach comedy like an seventy-year-old man approaches putting on his suit, getting on the train, and answering the phone for the ninety-year-old boss all day.
Speaking of the ninety-year-old boss, that reminds us of a terrible Japanese beer commercial. Japan is famous for its love of people who are famous for being famous. One such famous for being famous perhaps-human is this godzilla-faced bastard-thing whose “comedy” “routine” consists of barking at his “partner”, sometimes viciously slapping the other man in the head for insinuating that he is fat. Every one-joke routine starts with a “natural”-sounding “conversation” and then builds up to a point where the skinny guy says something that sounds like or rhymes with the Japanese word for “fat”. Then the fat man slaps the skinny man, the audience begins to laugh out of politeness, and then the two “comedians” abruptly turn to the audience, bow, and walk off the stage. Just like Bob Hope at a speed-dating session.
So there’s this beer commercial where this fat man is sitting at a bar, drinking a beer. A gorgeous woman — a real knock-out — is sitting maybe two seats away from him. The man is wearing a suit (this is crucial). The man takes a repulsive, greedy sip of the beer. He makes a truncated screaming sound. “There’s nothing like a cold beer after a hard day of work”, the man says. The woman, hands in her lap, an untouched beer in front of her, nods in agreement. “Yes, boss”. A title card splashes up announcing the name of the beer. Then you surf the internet, and people are talking about this fat man’s “recent dramatic turn”.
We are not stuffting you here: people suck at making interesting conversation. We’re not going to insinuate that people in Tokyo are worse at conversation than anywhere else in the world — it’s just that in Tokyo, there are so many people outside at any given time that you can’t help noticing. The minute the clock clicks over to midnight on June 21st, until September 20th, the only thing anyone will ever talk about outdoors is “it’s so hot!” If you go to an Indian curry restaurant, some fat slob will likely be wiping his face over and over again with a napkin, repeatedly saying “It’s so spicy!” Temperature is seriously the only thing anyone ever talks about. And don’t get us started on the people who try to talk about things other than temperature and just end up being even more boring.
So, Nintendo sells millions of Wiis, and millions of copies of Wii Sports, and then Wii Fit. Who the hell cares? When we reviewed Wii Fit negatively, one of the comments on the review was that we were obviously wrong to not like Wii Sports, because people liked it. Hey! First of all, people like some hecking stupid things sometimes. People like cigarettes, and those cause cancer, etc. Second of all, you might be wrong to assume that “lots of people bought Wii Fit” equals “lots of people like Wii Fit“. For example, we knew a guy who said he played Wii Fit with his wife’s family and found it inane, though he didn’t dare voice his dissent because he couldn’t remember the last time he had any opportunity to be so “close” to his wife’s family. That’s pretty god damned depressing, if you ask us! What are the chances that he’ll give Wii Sports Resort a chance?
In short, what we’re saying is that if Nintendo had spent a tiny bit more money and made the Wiimote do exactly what the guys in the Brain Room had decided it was going to do five minutes before the big board meeting, maybe they could have released Wii Sports Resort before Wii Sports, and maybe our friend wouldn’t have thought Wii Sports was inane.
Another fun fact: every “love hotel” (they don’t actually call them that, they just call them “hotels”, really, and if the hotel in question posts an hourly rate outside, that’s a “love hotel”) in Tokyo is equipped with a Nintendo Wii, two remotes, and a copy of Wii Sports. Peruse various Japanese mens’ magazines and you will likely find “Step 1: Buy a Nintendo Wii; Step 2: Tells girls you have a Nintendo Wii” under “dating tips”. (It’s the same way that Men’s Health advertises an article on “GET ABS NOW” on the front cover of every issue (go ahead, take a look).) Most girls will immediately say “Oh! Nintendo Wii! I’ve always wanted to play that! What games do you have? Do you have, uhh, Wii Sports?” This is the girl’s way of saying “I want to get laid as much as you do, only society dictates that I have to be more subtle about it”. “Yeah baby I have Wii Sports you want to come over and play it and then maybe give me a suck”, you say, careful not to add any punctuation, else she think you’ve planned this exact situation. “OK”, she says, and you end up raping each other in the kitchen.
Oh, we forgot to tell you about the Wii Sports Resort television commercial: a large group of people stand against a white background. If this were one of those popular Japanese pornos, they’d be men, they’d be wearing diapers, and they’d be rumbling their junks around with the hands that weren’t duct-taped to their backs. In the foreground, on the right, a noted professional golfer, name provided via title card. On the left, a hideous (apologizing beforehand) monkey-like Japanese “comedian” whose routine invariably consists of pretending (very badly) to be exasperated, throwing his hands up, and making exclamatory noises. The professional golfer swings the Wii remote like a golf club. We then see a canned video image of the game, a golf ball flying forward in a perfect drive. Now it’s the chimp’s turn: he holds the remote over his head like a jackass, whips it as hard as he can. Now we see the screen again. The balls slices and flies up and out of bounds. The chimp throws up his hands and bleats, the professional golfer maintains a neutral expression: Wii Sports Resort: on sale now.
So, uhh, the message of the commercial is that the golf mode of Wii Sports Resort, unlike that of Wii Sports, is so hard that professional golfers will be able to hit drives that accurately reflect their real-life ability, and common schlubs will never be able to hit anything in-bounds?
Wow, good work there, Nintendo!
Here we pause to remind everyone that the Nintendo Wii was originally fabricated as a way to coax back the gaming audience members who had wandered away after games got more “complicated”. According to Satoru Iwata, game controllers were “frightening” or “imposing” to mothers, grandmothers, aunts, great aunts, and even middle-aged homeless women with no surviving direct blood relatives. So, uhh, what the heck is this supposed to be? We reckon you can’t strangle yourself to death on the space between the Dual Shock’s left analog stick and face buttons. Also, all those stories about people throwing their Wii Remotes through their televisions didn’t really do much to keep antique-vase-owning grandmothers interested. The addition of the Motion Plus only adds another stripe of paraphernalia to the zebra of fetishism. It’s right likely that the closet non-fans are getting creeped out by the Wii right about now. A much more honest, interesting, iconic television commercial would have done wonders. They’ve given people the wrong idea, in the way that giving someone screwdriver when they ask you for a fruit knife is the wrong idea: they’re being confusing. People like us see this public-confusing Nintendo, consider the amount of money they’ve been making recently, and wonder if they’re not doing it on purpose.
Arguably, it’s an ultimately tricky thing, this Wii Motion Plus. We’re glad we’re not on the marketing team for it! We’d probably have suggested that they market the thing by rolling out an ad campaign apologizing for releasing a gimped, hecked-up videogame system with a controller that only does about twenty-percent of what they promised it was going to do, and then say, “You’ve already spent $250 on this thing. If you just spend $15 more, we can prove to you that it’s still a good idea! That’s only, like, three chai lattes at Starbucks!”
Here’s where we remind you that this kind of self-deprecation is the only kind that’s okay.
Reggie still probably would have pissed in our coffee pot and then fired us.
ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT THE GAME NOW
Wii Sports Resort is great. The Wii Motion Plus makes the Wii Remote do everything you always imagined it would do. Light up the Frisbee game and then watch in the most joyful facsimile of terror imaginable as your on-screen avatar actually holds the frisbee at the precise angle at which you are holding the Wii Remote. Turn the Wii Remote upside-down, and your Mii rotates its wrist so the frisbee is upside-down. That’s remarkable. Try the fencing game, and watch with abovementioned joyful facsimile of terror as your Mii holds its sword at the same precise angle as you are holding the Wii Remote. Then there’s the lung-collapsing joy when you realize you can hold the Wiimote upside-down behind your head, like it’s a sword sheathed on your back, and your onscreen counterpart will do the same thing. How the hell does it know the Wiimote is behind your head?!?! If it’s behind your head, the Sensor Bar can’t see it, right? Right? What’s going on here?!
In short, the Wii Motion Plus makes everything else ever released on the Wii look sick, frail, and shameful. Moreover, it makes everything about the Wii up until this point feel like smoke and mirrors. Remember in Zelda: Twilight Princess, when you decided you wanted to relax a little bit, and the game screamed at you for not pointing the Wii Remote at the screen? Why the hell did you have to point the Wii Remote at the screen? Why couldn’t it just be like a mouse? You don’t have to point a mouse at a screen.
It’s worth noting that the Wii Motion Plus requires a lot of calibration. In the fencing game, before every single round, you are asked to
POINT THE WII REMOTE AT THE SCREEN
A target appears. You are then asked to
POINT THE WII REMOTE AT THE BULLSEYE
Which you then do. Before most other games, which only deal with the rotational angle of the Wii Remote, you are asked to lay the controller on a flat surface for a few seconds, until the on-screen indicator informs you that it is properly calibrated. It’s not enough to be obnoxious, however, given how sparklingly well the motion controls work 90% of the time.
No, the game finds other ways to be obnoxious, and sometimes, if you’re extra lucky, infuriating. For example, it’s constantly telling you what to do. It’s like your god damned grandmother. Between rounds of any event, a screen will pop up telling you you should take a break. Are you serious? The god damned game asks you to take a break every five minutes. Nintendo must really be scared that we’re going to stop liking the game.
The first time you boot up the game, you are forced to watch a video that teaches you, in fetishistic detail, how to attach the Wii Motion Plus, how to remove the Wii Motion Plus, and then how to re-attach the Wii Motion Plus. See, the Wii Motion Plus comes locked inside a rubber Wii Remote condom — meaning that you have to remove the Wii Remote condom that you might have already put onto your Wii Remote. Then the video teaches you how to plug a nunchuk into a Wii Remote that is equipped with a Wii Motion Plus and a Wii Remote condom. Then it shows you how to remove the Motion Plus, then the Remote, from the condom, so that you can replace the batteries.
Why didn’t this thing come with rechargeable batteries? You know, Sanyo makes these rechargeable batteries that are really popular in Japan. The brand name for them is “eneloop”. They started making a Wii Remote charging cradle, complete with custom battery lids for your Wii Remotes. A month or so after these things went on sale, Nintendo, in a rare move of entrepreneurship, sent out a batch of “Official Nintendo Seal of Approval” stickers to plaster on all the existing boxes. The things sold like hotcakes. Now they’re useless, because a Wii Remote with a Motion Plus won’t even fit in there, anymore! We’re surprised they didn’t tell you how to remove the Wii Motion Plus before putting your Wii Remote into the charging cradle.
What’s weirdest is that, at the end of the video, it says “THIS VIDEO CAN BE WATCHED AT ANY TIME FROM THE ‘VIDEOS’ TAB OF THE OPTION MENU”. That’s all well and good, sure. However, just in case you forgot that you can watch the video from the “video” tab of the option menu, a huge, flashing icon is placed in the upper-right corner of the title screen:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH A VERY IMPORTANT VIDEO THAT DETAILS THE PROCEDURE FOR CONNECTING THE WII MOTION PLUS TO THE WII REMOTE
At the very beginning of every round of every event, if you haven’t played the game in over twenty-four hours, the game presumes you have forgotten how to play, and force-starts the tutorial mode. You can press the Minus Button (what a weird name for a button, by the way) at any time to cancel the tutorial, though that doesn’t give you back the five seconds of loading time it took to start the tutorial. And don’t even get us started on what happens when one friend in a group of four accidentally goes through with a tutorial drive at the beginning of hole one of a round of frisbee golf. Unless his real drive is a wicked slice, that hecker is going to get severely beaten and docked several strokes.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that, if you are not playing well, the game will force a tutorial upon you. This is terrifying and insulting. When you are playing frisbee golf with persons of an inebriated persuasion, it can also be all-too-frequent, and the killer of many buzzes.
What we propose is that the gaming industry collectively BRING BACK THE INSTRUCTION MANUAL — Wii Sports Resort doesn’t even have one, just a big poster thing with screen-shots of various mini-games — and then TELL PLAYERS at the beginning of every game, “HEY, READ THE MANUAL“. They’ve got those health and safety warnings, those epilepsy warnings, and even the great Nintendo innovation, the screen telling people not to slam their friends in the face or throw the controller at the TV — how hard would it be to have a screen that says “Please read the manual”? Then bury an option in the system software allowing people like us to turn off the “please read the manual” screen. And then — in case the customer has lost the manual (or the box, or the game itself) — put a link to a simply laid-out plethora of tutorials right there on the title screen. “Click here to learn how to play.”
The weirder thing is that none of the events in Wii Sports Resort are even complicated enough to require tutorials, anyway. They’re all pretty cut and dry. You move the remote, and something on the screen moves with one-to-one precision. If the nature of any event confuses any one player, no amount of tutorializing is going to make them not want to stop playing the game after ten minutes. Nintendo: it’s time to cut some losses, and some losers.
Then there’s stuff like the skydiving game, where no matter how good your performance, the game will continually lay an image of the Wii Remote over your on-screen avatar, just so you can see it flip and rotate in real time. Is this really necessary?
Now let’s talk about the good things: the fencing game is spectacular. You swing the Wii Remote to swing the sword. The faster you swing the remote, the faster the sword attack. The faster the sword attack, the farther back you push your opponent. If you don’t swing hard enough, you won’t push them back at all. The goal is to push them off the platform. Press the B button to enter blocking stance. Now hold the remote horizontal to block vertical slashes, or vertical to block horizontal slashes. If your enemy deflects your attack, you stumble, wide open to retaliation, for an uncomfortable (and very brief) period of time.
This adds up to a fascinating experience. The developers must have been shocked and/or blown away by just how well this sort of thing was to program easily, because they threw in an “action game mode” for free. Your Mii runs across a vast playing field, with numerous opponents running in your direction. You can see when they’re blocking. However, maybe one opponent is blocking horizontally and the one next to him is blocking vertically. What you need to do to take down the guy blocking horizontally is attack horizontally, however, you need to be careful not to swing too hard, or your sword will deflect off the sword of the guy blocking vertically, which would leave you open to attack. You need to be a surgeon with that blade. Some opponents are more vicious than others, and block like Street Fighter III veterans. On the later levels, it gets pretty exciting! (Even if the background music consists of about thirty seconds of audible terrorism.)
Then there’s the airplane game. Remarkably, and probably accidentally, Nintendo has managed to make a better arcade-like airplane-flying experience than Ace Combat without using a single button. All you have to do is rotate the remote — with one hand! — and the plane flies. Twist to the side to enter a turn, tilt back to pull up. The sharper you twist and tilt, the faster — and more dangerously — you turn. The purpose of the airplane game is “sightseeing”. You fly past little “i” marks — denoting points of “i”nterest — in an effort to collect them all. Collect a couple, and the game starts letting you pop balloons. These balloons, quite often, are in the hands of pedestrians on the streets below. There’s also a split screen dog fight mode.
This is where we start to wonder: what the heck? Nintendo have never been really good about contextualizing the action in the games; like, they never explained why, exactly, Mario grew to giant size when he ate a mushroom, or why those turtle shells were so slippery and kickable. This, though, this whole “resort island” setting, seems to be Nintendo’s effort to appeal to the audience’s actual humanity. So what kind of resort lets you throw frisbees on a golf course, lets just about anyone fly a biplane equipped with a gun (the game calls it a “balloon popper”), and features an event wherein all resort guests dress up in kendo uniforms and whack each other with glowing sticks? Something about this resort is hecked the hell up.
Here’s where you say: who really cares, though, if it’s fun? We agree with you — halfway. It is fun. Though it started to nag at us after a while. We started to feel like the erratic nature of the “sports” events portrayed in this game, if nothing else, was born out of Nintendo’s Geniuses thinking up a million great game ideas and then having their dreams squashed by upper management jerks who said to just cut the balls off all the ideas and throw them all in one game, because mini-game collections are profitable.
Or, it could have been that the R&D geniuses had this hot, steaming plate piled high with great ideas, and they wanted to print and sell a collection of shallow realizations of said ideas so as to inspire as many other developers as possible.
We’re going to be optimistic and assume that’s what they were going for.
Wii Sports was a piece of semi-interactive entertainment software whose boldest statement to other game developers was “this controller has a button inside that’s activated when you shake it”. Wii Play is a collection of “maybe-interesting things you can do with this controller — or a mouse”. Wii Sports Resort is a collection of “great ideas for games based on motion controls”.
It’s not hard for the average player to read about Wii Sports Resort and think of a million better game ideas. However, the game development community typically isn’t as intelligent as the average player, so it’s for their education that Nintendo put together this collection of small-games, each one of them beating the player over the head with a different brain-dead-simple core game mechanic (slashing a sword, shooting arrows, steering a jet ski, piloting an airplane) made brilliant and new thanks to one-to-one motion control.
It’d be very difficult to describe why, exactly, the arrow-shooting game feels so great. It just does. You hold the remote vertical, out in front of your body, and pull the nunchuk back. The targets are pretty far away; the wind simulation is admirable. Hitting the targets feels like actually doing something, such a contrast to the impersonality of shooting someone in, say, Halo. (Not Gears of War, though, that game is the stuff.)
Throwing a simulated frisbee feels miraculous. The sensation of pulling off a great throw is monumental, and the fact that there are literally hundreds of ways for any given throw to go terribly wrong make it all the better. The frisbee golf mode is excellent. It’s probably our most-played game, over here (okay, it is the most-played game; the game-selection screen feels the need to keep reminding us that it’s the “#1 most popular game”, though it keeps telling us ping-pong (booooring) is “recommended”), and we don’t wager we’ll be tired of it even in a year.
Why do we like frisbee golf so much? It’s got context. That’s something none of the other games have. This argument sounds really tired, we know: the standard frisbee game is boring, because, well, what? You’re just throwing a frisbee. You can do that in real life! If you think for a microsecond that our saying you would be better off throwing a frisbee in real life than playing the standard “frisbee dog” mode of Wii Sports Resort is the same thing as recommending anyone who plays Guitar Hero “play a real guitar instead”, then you obviously haven’t thrown a frisbee in Wii Sports Resort — or worse, you haven’t ever thrown one in real life. What we’re saying is that the simulation is uncannily accurate. The reason people are able to so convincingly pretend they like World of Warcraft or Second Life is because they present unrealistic worlds. We can’t say to a WoW player that they’d be better off harvesting real Orc Hides of Excellence +2, because those don’t exist in real life. What we’re saying is that Guitar Hero has more in common with World of Warcraftthan it has with a real guitar, while throwing a frisbee in Wii Sports Resort is more like throwing a real frisbee than it is like playing a plastic guitar.
Maybe some of the more outlandish and weird events exist because the people making the game kept realizing that “realistic” isn’t always interesting. Well, whatever. We took the liberty to think of some “interesting” game ideas. While playing the archery game, we kept imagining how cool it would be if there were a Zelda game where the bow and arrows felt just like this. While playing frisbee golf, we kept wishing there was a “driving range” mode wherein we could just throw frisbee after frisbee in rapid succession, and that’s when we realized it would be Totally Awesome if there were an action platformer where you used the nunchuk to move your player, pressed the nunchuk trigger to lock onto an enemy, and then used the remote to throw frisbee death blades at him! Catch him in the neck to decapitate him! And while playing the “action game mode” of the fencing event, we came to realize that, yes, a real all-out sword-action melee game would indeed be awesome. Again, use the nunchuk to move your character. Maybe it could be a samurai game. Maybe it could be a Zelda game. Hell, maybe it’ll be that Red Steel sequel. You know, maybe Red Steel was only so bad because the developers had planned on the Wii Remote having a much more respectable range of motion? Let’s go ahead and not hate on the sequel until we see it. The airplane event made us want a role-playing game where our character is a biplane pilot in a cartoon version of World War I-era Europe. The “battle system” would just involve joyful, simple, frictive flight. Some missions could be about following a guy, maybe staying hidden, in an effort to find a sky pirate base, and maybe you could buy new engines or guns at the engineer shop in town. Or hell, just make it Starfox, because the people would of course be afraid of a new Nintendo franchise.
Basically, what we’re saying is that Wii Sports Resort is video game soup — and not Campbell’s Chunky, the Soup That Eats Like A Meal — it’s a soup that eats like a soup. It’s not filling. It’s a bunch of ideas floating around in a thin broth. What it comes down to, again, is that we don’t want to be “ourselves” in videogames. We hardly want to be ourselves in real life, most of the time. Give us a personality — any personality, even a meatheaded one like Gears of War‘s Marcus “Fight Through The Pain!” Fenix — and give us some context. Looking at these tacky cartoon Miis swinging fake swords at each other is just weird. We’d almost rather it be a Dynasty Warriors-branded experience (and we’d adore it if it let us buy different weapons, and if one of the weapons was a spear).
This is probably why we made Miis of Bill Cosby and Michael Jackson.
Not all of the events are good, though. Oh no, in fact, some of them are terrible. Ping pong blows. Wakeboarding is a really stupid exercise in seeing how quickly you can revert the controller to a position parallel with the floor after jerking it upward sharply. Bicycling is ridiculous — you’re just flapping the Wii remote and the nunchuk like a doofus. Canoeing is embarrassing — you just belligerently swing the remote left and right like a jackass.
The basketball mode is weird. Shooting the ball in the three-point-contest mode feels interesting. The three-on-three mode is bizarrely incomplete. Not being able to move is too strange, and being forced to pass is even stranger.
What’s strangest about the basketball event, however, is when you realize that the basketball court is surrounded by chain-link fences, and that the low-rise apartment buildings in the background have small black child-Miis staring out the windows. Wow! Way to osmose an propagate another racial stereotype, Japanese Game Company!
This is probably the end of this review. The only thing we have left to say about Wii Sports Resort is that we wonder if Nintendo is in cahoots with the battery companies, because there seriously is no Wii home-menu option to turn the controller off. You have to pull off the Motion Plus, roll back the condom, and pop the batteries out just to turn the damned controller off. We know this because
1. Most of the games in Wii Sports Resort involve alternating, not simultaneous, play
2. All of said games allow you to use one Wii Remote for multiple players
3. The games that involve alternating play and also require nunchuks will simply not allow you to play if you have two controllers activated and only one of them has a nunchuk connected
The solution to this puzzle is to pop the batteries out of one of the Wii Remotes (the one without the nunchuk), and then try again. The game will then inform you that two players will have to share one controller. We are sure that if asked about this Reggie would tell us that he and his “team” didn’t want to clutter the game up with “complicated” options. We, however, are pretty convinced it’s just a weird, thin ploy to get people to buy more nunchuks.
At the end of all this, we arrive at the heartfelt conclusion that Wii Sports Resort is a solid entertainment package. Frisbee golf alone is nearly worth it — you only need one controller and one Motion Plus to play, and the game is, what, $30? That’s technically free if you consider that, in real-life, no one ever says “hey, let’s go play frisbee golf” — they say “let’s go get high and play frisbee golf”. The bolded part of that sentence usually costs more than $30! It’s a shame that the camera angles in frisbee golf are so god-awful, or that a picture of a wrist with a Wii Remote strap being fastened around it sits there on the screen, immovable, for the duration of any play session, or that they give you three disc choices and one of them is always the right one, and always labeled as “recommended” — they shouldn’t even let us choose! Wii Sports Resort is a laundry list of infuriating things that video games do, though at the same time it is a scary-hot promise of new video game playing experiences to come. If some up-and-coming game developer goes and makes the biplane RPG we threw down nine paragraphs ago, we promise to go back and lower the score of Wii Sports Resort to zero stars, or else raise it up to four, depending on our mood that day.