The Nintendo Switch and Wii U for that matter are still waiting for a true sequel to Wii Sports Resort. While this may never happen, fans can turn to Go Vacation for now. Initially released back in 2011 as a Wii exclusive, Go Vacation was Bandai Namco’s attempt to replicate the massive success of the original Wii Sports. The updated HD port for Nintendo Switch doesn’t have significant competition this time; in fact, Nintendo has teamed up with Bandai Namco to help out with publishing duties. But overall, the game remains largely the same.
Go Vacation is set on Kawawii Island, a fictional locale that consists of four major resorts – Marine, Mountain, Snow and City. Uninspired names aside, each resort is unique in its own right and provides a set of distinguishing minigames built with its core theme in mind. You’ll discover summer activities such as scuba diving, beach volleyball and fishing at Marine Resort; outdoor activities like kayaking, horseback riding and rafting at Mountain Resort; wintry activities such as snowball fights, snowman building, snowmobile races and ski jumping at Snow Resort; and urban-style activities like high-octane car races, hang gliding and table hockey at City Resort.
Each resort allows you to freely explore its extensive terrain on foot, in a vehicle or another mode of transportation, including inline skates, skateboards, skis, horses and snowboards. Despite being meant to enhance your movement, some are actually a chore to maneuver. When trying to move using motion controls, you’ll often fall flat on your face due to failing to balance properly with the gamepad in your hands. Controlling skis proved to be most cumbersome of the bunch. Fortunately, you have several options at your disposal and will probably resort to riding an ATV, an off-road car or snowmobile to get to destinations whenever possible.
More than 50 minigames are available to play through, complete with cooperative and competitive elements for up to four players. Don’t get too excited though, as the majority of activities are forgettable, especially when you take their tiresome controls into account. You can count all the good minigames on your fingers. Fun can be found within beach volleyball, mini golf, tennis and water gun battles. But the same can’t be said about the vast majority of other activities. You’ll often find yourself wanting out from completing a minigame after realizing that the controls aren’t cooperating with your input. This is particularly worse when using motion controls, where you rotate the controller in every practical direction only to see yourself straying completely from the path. Activities such as hang gliding, skydiving, bungee jumping and racing to name a few are affected by this; and you wouldn’t mind not returning to them ever again.
Resorts are massive and encourage exploration, but this aspect feels somewhat restrictive due to not being able to rotate the camera around your avatar. The experience is also hindered with frequent loading screens; this shouldn’t have been the case on Switch – a significantly more powerful console compared to Wii. Kawawii Island is populated by non-player characters to emit a sense of liveliness. However, it tends to accomplish the exact opposite. You can’t interact with most characters; they’re just there for the heck of it. Additionally, if you try to run over them with your vehicle, they don’t budge, discharge a generic reaction such as nodding their head and immediately return to what they were doing.
Animals are even more stubborn in that they won’t even notice you there. Bumping into them is as if you’re running into a solid brick wall. These lifeless creatures could’ve at least been programmed to move out of the way. Another unnatural reaction applies to your own avatar, who is totally bummed out after attaining second place in a certain activity; on the other hand, the third-ranked NPC can’t stop leaping for joy. You’ll hear the same exact sound effects and tunes throughout the game. While some of them are catchy, they get old after having to listen to them over and over again.
There are a number of customization options to choose from in order to suit your style. You can create your own avatar or opt for playing as your Mii. Although your Mii can stand out like a sore thumb, it gives you more personalization in terms of playing as a character who better resembles you. Mii characters lack further customization such as being able to wear in-game hats and accessories, so you can’t have the best of both worlds. As you progress through the game, you’ll eventually be able to customize your very own villa, which you can tailor to your liking by selecting from more than 450 pieces of furniture. You can even have a dog companion follow you on land or water. This doesn’t add anything substantial to the main gameplay, but it’s nevertheless a nice touch – specifically for pet lovers.
Go Vacation doesn’t do the best job of trying to appeal to everyone, but party game fans might find enough enjoyment to hold them off until Super Mario Party arrives later this year. While the staggering amount of things to do may be appreciated by some, it’s another example that demonstrates how quantity shouldn’t always be a priority over quality.
A review copy of Go Vacation on Nintendo Switch was provided by Nintendo UK.