Crispy Gamer

Games for Lunch: Vacation Sports

Vacation Sports

Developer: Mere Mortals

Publisher: Ubisoft

Release Date: March 17, 2009

System: Wii

ESRB Rating: E

Official Web site

0:00 Since I'm reviewing Wii Sports Resort for this site, I thought it was only fair to check out what's obviously being released as "competition."

0:01 Right off, I'm jamming to the steel-drum and trumpet-heavy music on the preview screen. This is gonna be in my head all day, and I don't really mind!

0:02 A plane with some creepy-looking people flies over an island that looks REMARKABLY like the one in Wii Sports Resort. On it, people play cricket and throw an American football around. As four misshapen, ugly cartoon people get off the plane, they get leis and walk toward the palatial hotel. In Resort they skydive off the plane. Skydiving is cooler than walking. I'm just saying...

0:03 On to a title screen, where characters that are much blockier than in the intro cut scene awkwardly hurl a Frisbee around. "Hello and welcome to the resort," says a blocky woman in a yellow bikini. She's Lola, and she wants me to have "a great time during your stay with us." I have to go to Reception to check in. Wow ... all the fun of the most annoying part of a vacation!

0:05 So now I'm "Creating a family," which really sounds like a euphemism for something. I choose a watermelon for my family logo, because YUM. Then I get to pick the members of my family. There are 10 people to choose from, all kind of odd-looking, and mostly blonde. For the brother, I pick a guy with an open Hawaiian shirt and a tall buzz-cut. For the rest I just choose the "Auto" option, because really, who cares. "Well done! Your family is now checked into the hotel." That deserves a well done? Ugh.

0:07 Now I'm heading to my room to "settle in." Oh my god, let's get to the sports already! The room has a trophy cabinet, a TV set (through which I can purchase new activities, oddly) and a wardrobe. I give Ace some heart-shaped sunglasses, because why not?

0:10 After a ludicrous amount of loud loading, I go back to the lobby. "Now that you are settled into the resort, it is time to play some sports!" Hooray! Also, Lola, have you ever heard of contractions?

0:11 I start with a three-event challenge against another family in the resort. I'm competing against the Wood family, which has a banana for its logo. Let's start with Petanque, which is unique for a sports videogame, at least.

0:15 The tutorial teaches me to aim at the other end of the field with the Wii Remote, then hold B and swing the Remote underhand to throw my "boules" close to the "jack." I win the first "over" 3-0 by knocking my balls right into the jack, despite the absolutely awful throwing controls. The game throws the ball even when I don't move the Remote at all.

0:19 I'm behind 4-3 after two more ends, mostly because I can't figure out how to moderate my throw power. The game just seems to throw the ball irrespective of what I do. I manage some decent throws in the fourth end, though, and squeak out a win 5-4. Hopefully the other sports will be a bit better.

Vacation Sports

0:20 I'll try Beach Cricket next, since I've never played a good virtual cricket game. Or a bad one, for that matter.

0:21 The background music here is an obvious rip-off of "Under the Sea" from "The Little Mermaid." Updates as warranted.

0:25 So, basically, I'm swinging awkwardly to hit a ball being hurled at me. The swing detection is incredibly wonky ... quite a few don't seem to register at all. Then I'm pitching, swinging the Remote downward to hurl my pitches. I get perfect power on most every throw, but my opponents still hit every one squarely. It's like Wii Sports Baseball with all the strategy and control taken away. By the way, I've unlocked some sort of bomber jacket.

0:27 This third event will be for all the marbles. Let's go with Paleta Fronton, which I've never even heard of before now.

0:31 Oh, it's just paddleball ... hit a ball against a wall, then the other player has to do the same. It's a lot like Wii Sports Tennis in that the game moves me automatically and all I have to do is swing. Of course, it doesn't seem to matter HOW I swing; just that I do. The odd depth perception and awkward swing detection make me feel like I'm not really in control of the action. Just awful!

0:32 "Orland wins!" I got a couple of trophies for my display case. Hurray?

0:33 Oh jeez, there are 27 more minutes until I can stop playing this thing. OK, OK ... let's start a new challenge with ... Go Karts? How bad can they screw up Go Karts?

0:35 "The objective is to win the race." GEE THANKS GO KART TUTORIAL!

0:39 Believe it or not, I've played worse kart-racing games. Sure the track is boring and empty, and my opponents are slower than dirt, but there are a few cool jumps and some strategy in taking turns at the perfect angle to get that screechy power-slide. The frequent dashes help keep it moderately exciting too. It's totally average, which for this game means it's excellent!

0:40 Despite my first-place finish, the game is somehow a "draw" because my partner finished third. Are you KIDDING me? Stupid family. I guess I'll try Disc Golf next, though I shudder to think how much worse this is going to be than the Wii Sports Resort version.

0:50 I accidentally skipped the tutorial, so I have to figure out for myself how to use the Remote to awkwardly aim the path for my curving shots. When I throw, I can't seem to max out the power gauge, causing my disc to fall lamely to the ground almost immediately. There's a "power shot" option that gets activated occasionally, but whenever I use it the disc flies wildly out of bounds. I end up with a score of +10 on five holes. On the plus side, the way the disc flies in the air is actually more realistic than in Wii Sports Resort. Also, real baskets.

0:55 Oh, there are actually nine holes total, so I guess we're still going. I'm starting to get the hang of the throw power now, actually, and I'm liking the way the disc realistically curves through the air. The course design is pretty decent too ... at one point I have to launch a disc way over a cabana to get to the hole. I end up finishing nine over par, which is enough to beat my opponents at 10 over. Who'da thunk it!

Vacation Sports

0:56 OK, play us off, Dodgeball cat.

1:00 I'm initially excited about the potential for this one, since it uses the Wii Remote like an NES controller. Is this gonna be another Super Dodge Ball? No ... it's an awkward, hard-to-control mess that isn't nearly responsive enough to be playable. Sigh.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? No.

Why? I enjoy fun things, not things like this.

This column is based on a retail copy of the game rented from GameFly.

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