Making the follow-up to the game that convinced millions to buy a Wii can't have been easy for Nintendo. Wii Sports is the very definition of a party game, with the Wii taken out of the cupboard on special occasions just so the entire family of non-gamers can pretend to play tennis, golf, boxing, bowling and baseball. For many people the Wii is Wii Sports, so much so that other games might as well not exist. So why should those people care about MotionPlus standard bearer Wii Sports Resort? Are their party nights going to be any better with the addition of Nintendo's next big thing?
The game begins with a brief skydive onto the Wii Sports Resort island, during which you're moving your Mii as he or she plummets to the ground. After you've parachuted down, it's time to get stuck into the 12 games on offer, with only Golf and Bowling returning from the original selection of five. First up is Swordplay, which is pretty self explanatory and one of the games that most obviously makes use of Wii MotionPlus. Initially all that's available here is Duel mode, in which you fight an opponent (computer or fellow human via split-screen) using a wooden sword. Your motions are tracked incredibly well, allowing you to slash from all angles, and block incoming attacks while holding down the B trigger. Mindless waggling doesn't produce great results, but as long as you play properly, stood up and with proper gestures (as if you were actually holding a sword), the game recognises your actions superbly and there's a lot of fun to be had.
Do well in Duel mode and two additional sword mini-games will be unlocked. The first pits you against another player as you attempt to slice objects apart with slashes in the direction as indicated by on-screen arrows. Finally there's Showdown, a kind of on-rails slash 'em up that sees your Mii taking on a series of enemies in a traditional level structure. Certain enemies are tougher than others and use more advanced blocking techniques, so it's not just a case of wildly swinging the Wii Remote to take down all that stands before you.
After such a strong start you'll likely feel a slight bump as you come down to earth with Wakeboarding. It's not that this mini-game is poor, it's just a bit dull and doesn't feel like it makes the best use of MotionPlus. With the Wii Remote held horizontally you tilt to steer left and right while being pulled along on a ski by a powerboat. By flicking the controller up as you ski over the boat's wake you can get some impressive air and perform tricks. With no points awarded unless you actually land properly, it's all about maintaining control, with a solid return to the water rewarding you with points and no loss in speed.
Frisbee is far more successful as a demo for MotionPlus, not only because your Mii's actions mimic your own very closely, but also because the game feels incredibly tactile and takes time to master. The core mode simply sees you trying to hit targets with your Frisbee, perhaps throwing it through balloons in the process, and watching as your dog catches it just before it hits the ground. Of more long-term interest for many will be Frisbee Golf, which lets you play a number of holes using three Frisbees that have different ranges: long, medium and short. Rather than having to hit a small target similar to a hole, to finish you simply need to throw the Frisbee through a large target, ideally in less shots than par.
Archery is another game that doesn't seem to be designed around the use of MotionPlus, but it's also one of the best games included in the collection. By holding the Wii Remote vertically in your left hand and holding the Nunchuck in your right as if it's an arrow, you aim with the Remote and pull and release with the Nunchuck. With various difficulties to contend with it's a game that offers plenty of challenge and feels good to play. Basketball is pretty simple, and again doesn't seem to be designed around MotionPlus. The two mini-game variants on offer both centre on shooting, which is triggered by flicking the Remote over your head to make your player jump, then waiting for the right moment before flicking forward to release the ball at the net.
Lots of people will be looking to Table Tennis as a direct replacement for Wii Sports Tennis, but it doesn't quite live up to its predecessor. The controls are certainly tighter, but the core game doesn't have the excitement of a full game of tennis. It's good fun, especially against a friend, but a MotionPlus version of lawn tennis would have been preferable. And that brings us to the two games returning from the original: Golf and Bowling. Golf feels much improved with MotionPlus, eclipsing the hit and miss controls found in the original by some way, but Bowling doesn't feel all that different. The biggest change is the new 100 pin challenge, which puts 100 pins on the lane instead of the usual 10.
It's a nod to Nintendo classic Wave Race next, with Power Cruising seeing you zooming around on a jet ski. The controls take some getting used to here, with the Wii Remote and Nunchuck needing to be held as if they were handlebars, the bike steering left and right as you spin the virtual bar. It works, and there's an easy to use boost system in place, but it doesn't feel nearly exciting enough. Canoeing might sound duller, but the combination of a fun control scheme (imagine holding the Wii Remote vertically with both hands as if it were a paddle) and a good physical workout make it one of the most enjoyable games in the whole package.
If Canoeing gets the heart going, Cycling will get you sweating. With a Wii Remote in one hand and a Nunchuck in the other the two become pedals and your hands become feet. By alternately moving each up then down you pedal your virtual bike, with the faster the action the quicker your guy will pedal. You have a stamina meter to worry about, so it's important to pace yourself over the course of each race, take rests to recharge and slipstream where possible to save energy, then power it at full pelt over the finishing straight. The courses are pretty long and take you all around the island, making this a game that could easily have appeared in WiiFit.
Finally there's a collection of games designed around being in the air. Skydiving sees you performing tricks with other sky divers, using the Wii Remote to spin and dive. It's pretty simple stuff, but a nice way to spend a few minutes. The games that see you piloting a plane are more fun, but Island Flyover is essentially a treasure hunt (you need to find all the points of interest on the map), and Dog Fight isn't playable alone. The flight controls work well (hold the Remote as if you were holding a toy plane), but none of the air mini-games have much of a competitive edge to them.
As with the games in Wii Sports, you'll rank up (or down) after each game, and your AI opponent will put up a challenge designed to compete against that skill level. Initially you'll face a string of easy challengers, but soon enough you'll have to work hard for victory in all the game modes. There's still no online functionality at all, which is a shame, but the social nature of the game means it's not missed too much.
There's plenty here to do alone, but as with the original Wii Sports, Resort is far better when played with a friend. The games generally take a bit more working out than those included in the console pack-in, so Nintendo's latest isn't quite as pick up and play friendly, but it shouldn't take much to get gran and granddad up to speed. All in all there's plenty here to keep gamers happy, the MotionPlus support is extremely good and the game is packed full with the usual Nintendo charm. We're not sure if it'll have the same impact as the original, but it's more or less a dead cert that many Wiis will be coming out of the cupboard for this one.