While most video games give your thumbs a vigorous workout, Nintendo’s Wii has the market cornered for getting the rest of your body in gear. Wii Sports Resort takes that cornered market, jumps up and down with it for a while and then punts it into the next time zone. You could say it encourages players to get off the couch and—well, play. But actually it demands that you get off the couch. It’s almost impossible to play most of Sports Resort‘s games while sitting down.
Not that you get to jump into the screen and frolic in the pixels yourself. No, the folks at Nintendo haven’t quite figured out how to make that happen … yet. For now, you must live vicariously through your Mii—a fully customizable avatar that gets to make the trip to Sports Resort (located on a picturesque, volcano-crowned island). Once there, you and your Mii can spend your virtual vacation doing some 12 separate pastimes, ranging from archery to sky diving to wakeboarding.
Most of the games, using the Wii’s stable of handheld controllers, are designed to be reasonable facsimiles of the games they mimic. If you’re throwing a Frisbee to a dog, for instance, you must swing your arm and flick your wrist just as if you were flinging the disc in the park. In golf, I found that it’s a good idea to keep your head down when you swing—just like you do on the links—so you don’t slice it into the digital ocean. Sword fighting may be the easiest discipline to master on the island: Hold the controller like a sword and swing away. Your Mii will hack through virtual opponents like Chuck Norris at a mannequin convention.
Whoa. Did I just say sword fighting?
Yes, Wii Sports Resort dabbles in a little swordplay. You and your Mii, though, will be perfectly safe. The swords here look like bamboo training sticks, and your Mii is decked out in protective padding. No blood is shed, and one can assume that all the Miis chuckle over their exploits in the Resort’s dining room when you’re not watching. The only time gamers draw a “real” sword is during a “speed slice” competition, wherein you cut through melons and pencils and such.
There’s very little else to worry about in this game—outside of getting carried away with your controllers and knocking over a nearby lamp. Violence? You’ve already heard the worst. Language? Well, if a Mii misses a shot in table tennis, black squiggly lines pop up over her head to express her displeasure, but that’s about it. Sexual content? These are Miis. Enough said.
What’s to love? So many video games are designed to be played alone. With Wii Sports Resort, as many as four people can play at once, competing against each other while riding jet skis, wielding putters or shooting basketballs. The games are easy to learn and easy to play. Besides, they give kids a perfect opportunity to laugh at their parents a little—in a good way. If I saw the way I contorted while trying to paddle my little kayak, I’d laugh at me, too.
One more cool thing: After you’ve played for a while, the Wii asks you, very gently, if you’d like to take a break—to maybe go outside and play a real sport for a bit.
It’s good advice, but you won’t want to take it. This game is that good.
Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.