For the first time in two and a half years Nintendo has a game that plays exactly like it does in the advert. Guy hiding behind the sofa during Resident Evil 4? Liar. Lady lunging across the living room in Wii Sports Tennis? Sick in the head. Wii Sports Resort, however, doesn’t lie. Nintendo could front the campaign with a chorus line of MotionPlus doohickies and we’d still believe in its miracle powers.
The moment it clicked? It was more of a swipe, really. Facing another Mii in a sword duel we delivered a stinging shot to his right thigh followed with a hearty whack to the left ear. And it’s exactly what we wanted to do. All of a sudden we were ten years old again, belting the neighborhood kids with fallen branches. The opponent swung back and we dropped our hand to parry. You’re still leading an avatar on screen, but his faded silhouette tells you what you already know: you don’t need him there anymore.
You can sense Nintendo’s affinity for slicing ’n’ dicing from the fact the swordplay has multiple modes. Where in Wii Sports every event came with three training variations, Resort plays fast and loose – if the chaps at Nintendo EAD have a fun variant, you’ll play the fun variant. Speed Slice is a directional cutting task complete with amazing lumps of physics-enabled cake to hack. Carefully shave off a sliver and away it peels. Mentally replace the procession of cake, sushi and diamonds with Zelda’s Moblins and you get very giddy indeed.
Similar anticipatory synapses fire up during archery. Tilting a vertically held remote to aim a bow may smack of Mario & Sonic’s similar Olympic controls, but the real smack is the sound of Sega developer hand on Sega developer forehead as they see MotionPlus bring the goods. As delicate as pointer control, though obviously slower, it’s a great little bit of make believe mimicry. Okay, so pulling the string taut with the Nunchuk is phony (it’s the Z button that pulls the string, the Nunchuk gesture just zooms you in faster), but the twang and thwack belong entirely to you.
Resort’s big surprise is canoeing. Now, how to explain in a clever, writerly fashion? Er, pretend you’re canoeing and you canoe. What would have been (and was, in Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings) crudely handled with flicks now feels like a proper water scoop. They’re perfect controls for pursuing Mii ducks (joining Wuhu Island’s zoo’s worth of dogs, seagulls and whales) around the pond. Multiplayer speed race is also a highlight, as thrashing fools disrupt your god-like strokes.
These disciplines are the A-listers, the beautiful faces blazoned across Resort’s brochure. The next strata of games houses subtlety. Reggie’s E3 basketball face-off looked unremarkable; MotionPlus’ grasp of angles and spin as the ball leaves your hand is anything but. A second outing for Wii Sports Bowling is particularly telling. All those times you weren’t sure the ball recognised your spin? You weren’t crazy. MotionPlusless, the remote can be a bit flaky. With it, you’re Woody Harrelson in Kingpin. Pre-hand-loss, natch.