Wii Fit also showed how fiendishly compulsive high-score table competition could make an otherwise simple game, and Sports Resort manages much the same thing. It’s mildly disappointing that only a handful of the games offer proper, simultaneous two or four-person play (though those that do, including Duel, Speed Slice, Table Tennis and Canoeing, all offer a lot of multiplayer fun). However, the fact that the game measures and tracks your performance and ranks you against other Miis makes the game inescapably addictive. Can I really just sit here while my better half dominates the Archery charts? Of course not. She’ll see I’m the best, even if I have to play all night!
All of this is great for casual gamers, and the sort of people who have spent the last eighteen months dipping in and out of Wii Sports on wet Sunday afternoons or during dull family get-togethers can spend the next eighteen dipping in and out of its sequel. However, the game also has good news for more committed Nintendo fans, in that we get the closest thing yet to new versions of WaveRace and PilotWings on the Wii. PowerCruising is WaveRace Junior, giving your Mii the chance to slalom through gates and rings for points around a selection of six courses.
There are disappointments – the courses aren’t visually as varied as you might hope and there’s no AI competition on the water – but the handling is superb and the control system even better. Rather than merely holding the remote and tilting it, you hold the remote in one hand and the nunchuck in the other, then tilt both left and right as you might if you were controlling a jetski with your weight. Better still, a quick twist of the remote towards you guns the throttle, giving you a handy speed boost. It’s not quite WaveRace Wii, but it will do while we wait for the real thing to come along.
The PilotWings bit, meanwhile, comes in the Air Sports section. First we get skydiving – use the remote to shift your plummeting Mii through the clouds, so that he or she links up with other skydivers in time for a quick photo. The more Miis you hook up with and the better the poses and the more points you get. Like all of Nintendo’s best bits, it’s a concentrated dose of silly, unpretentious joy, and oddly relaxing in its own odd little way.
This leads on to Island Flyover, where you take a biplane out to explore the island, diving under rocky arches and speeding across bridges in an effort to collect every hidden marker on the map. The time limit imposed is perhaps a tad draconian, but then it just encourages you to make multiple trips, seeing and discovering a little more each time.
If nothing else, Air Sports gives you a chance to appreciate how much effort has gone into creating the WuHu island setting, particularly as there are different sights depending on whether you fly in daylight, at sunset or at night. This might not be a Mario or a Zelda, but even when it’s just a backdrop to a bunch of mini-games, Nintendo can’t help but stamp its character on a new world. Throw in a simple dogfight option, and there’s enough airborne action to distract you from the fact that there’s no hang-gliding or monster blasting to sink your teeth into.