Developed By: Namco Bandai Games
Published By: Namco Bandai Partners
Based on: The pseudo-sequel to We Ski and We Ski & Snowboard (But for the most part you are better off just thinking of it as a stand alone series)
Console: Nintendo Wii
Genre: Sports, Mini-game
Classification: This game has been classified G for General and is appropriate for all ages.
Special Thanks: This game was funded out of my own pocket.
Whenever you see a sports or mini-game compilation which is on the Wii, Playstation Move or XBox Kinect, you may get the impression that it is just another attempt to use the same simple control mechanisms and the same simple games in order to make a quick buck without being too imaginative with the content. Now, this does work occasionally with each of the three consoles main sports games – Wii Sports, Sports Champions and Kinect Sports all being brilliant in my books and showcasing what the systems are capable of, but there is the reverse scenario where there are many games that could have used more careful planning and implementation to appeal to anything more than the very casual gamer. I had noticed Go Vacation in stores around where I live and finally decided to give in and check it out – part due to the fact my family was holding frequent gaming nights and part because I was curious about how these mini-game based titles were going these days (I don’t usually pick them up). Does it succeed where many have failed or does it belong in a bargain bin? Read on to find out in my review of Go Vacation for the Nintendo Wii.
Lets say this holiday season neither you, your mates or your family managed to go away for the Christmas break? Do not worry as Namco Bandai Games have delivered Go Vacation which allows you and up to three friends/family to visit Kawawii Island, an island with such a messed up eco-system that within walking distance you can go from a warm beach setting to the snow-slopes. This may remind you of Wii Sports Resort and even Wii Fit which both take place on an island, but instead of simply choosing the mini-games to take part in on the Island, the island is for the most part intractable and provides a sort of open-world experience that allows you to take part in the many transport options available and gives the impression it is not just you and a couple of Mii’s in attendance. As you may expect, besides the “You are visiting this resort island” aspect of the game, there is no plot and remains a solely gameplay driven game…. but how does the gameplay turn out?
The games cover boasts around 50 mini-games in total spread over the four resorts on the island – providing a beach, city, mountain and snow environment with respective mini-games in each. For example, in the beach area you are provided with the opportunity to take part in beach volleyball, jet ski riding and sky-diving while say… the city resort allowed you to take part in inline skating and car racing events. The quality of these varied between games with some being highly enjoyable while others turned out very dull. Personally while I enjoyed many of the games racing games did provide good control mechanisms and some challenge (Especially in multiplayer mode), other games were tedious to sit through including the beach volleyball (The game seems to be included in every mini-game compilation involving a beach and none seem to do it right) and the putt-putt golf which was dull and ended up with another problem I will discuss soon. However, with the number of mini-games while some are better implemented and thought out then others, there should be enough to provide you with some favourites, provide you with justification to continue exploring the island ad provide you with a reason to grab some mates and start playing.
But perhaps you are playing by yourself and want to feel like you have a crowd to play with? While most of the other guests are silent and will not want to talk with you even if you say… drive a jet ski into them, the game includes a buddy system where you can recruit fellow Mii’s and other custom characters to join you as you traverse the park – which while having only limited impact on the games, is a nice little feature. Also, as the game has the option of letting you roam the islands four resorts freely they provide a couple of modes of transport which you may or may not enjoy. For example, while you can walk and swim at the beach, there are jet ski’s which provide fast movement on water and are controlled by tilting the Wiimote and Nunchuk in a specific direction and Inline Skates for the City area which are controlled by making leg movements with your arms. While these are good, for some like the inline skates it highlights the games biggest flaw – the awkward control mechanisms. For the most part I have to congratulate the game for using some ingenious control mechanisms that make use of not only the wiimote and nunchuk but also the Wii Balance Board, Wii Wheel and the Wii Crossbow accessories, but also scold the game for not including simple nunchuk controls for transport, requiring sometimes very imprecise movements to move. This continues on into some mini-games such as the putt-putt golf which was very difficult to complete to say the least.
While the game is open world, the means of actually making the game open is through the mini-games. While there are four worlds you are initially only provided with the Marine (Beach) area until you complete four games which then unlocks the City area, all the way until you unlock the private villa at 20 games. While I would have liked not to be held against my will upon arriving at the island on the beach, it shouldn’t take too long to play through the twenty games until you unlock perhaps the most creative aspect of the game. Apparently unlike most resorts, they management have decided that enjoying the island gives you a completely customisable Villa which you can decorate and invite your buddies to. While this does very little except act as a bonus creative aspect…. I personally love the little creative elements and it was well implemented. Overall, the single player is a mixed bag and only really shines when you have some friends or family to battle against (The computer was a bit too easy for my liking) and despite the trivial control systems should provide plenty of family-oriented enjoyment.
Perhaps the most annoying feature of the design results from a decision you are faced with as soon as you start the game. You are given the freedom to choose either one of the games pre-designed characters which go with the rest of the characters in the game, and considering everything actually give you hundreds of choices per gender in terms of designs or your Mii which goes against the character designs of the game and looks relatively out of place. However with the exception of that incident, the characters look okay and you are given plenty of options throughout the game to unlock new outfits and customize your characters to your preference. While some part of the games environmental designs look good, especially considering how big the island is – the quality is still only average in my books and could have recieved a bit more polish and refinement in a number of areas. Considering the target audience, I would not call it all that bad however.
The music is one of the more shaky parts of the game and is average at the very best. The game includes a couple of very awkward pop tracks which would have been better omitted in my opinion and the instrumental tracks were nothing all too special. The game also doesn’t including voice acting, with the characters voices all sounding like little squeaks.
While there are many areas that could have used tweaks and improvements, I would consider this one of the better third-party mini-game compilations for the Wii. The open world environment is certainly a benefit even if it may be tedious at times going from A to B, but also rewards you through hidden bonuses provided you are willing to spend some time looking for them. The games were a mixed bag as well but I would say more of them are enjoyable than unenjoyable.
Storyline/Character Development: N/A
Music/Voice Acting: D
Personal Opinion: B
Overall Score: B-