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Go Vacation

Score: 60%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Developer: NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Mini-Games/ Free-Roaming

Graphics & Sound:

Well, our time with the Wii is slowly drawing to a quiet end. As Nintendo's casual juggernaut enters its twilight year, let's take a step back and examine its legacy. While Wii certainly has its share of first-party masterpieces, it will undoubtedly (and unfortunately) be remembered for games like Go Vacation. That is to say, games that strive for variety and simplicity, rather than depth and replay value.

If you've played Wii Sports Resort, you know exactly what to to expect from Go Vacation. However, Kawawii is a much larger and more diverse island than Wuhu. It manages to be an all-in-one resort, complete with beaches, cities, mountains, and snowcaps. And it looks just fine, provided you have the right set of expectations. As with every Wii game, charm (not realism) is the goal, and Go Vacation achieves that goal pretty easily.

Go Vacation may look charming, but it doesn't quite sound that way. Nearly every mini-game collection of this variety suffers from obnoxiously cheery throwaway music and bland forgettable sound effects. Go Vacation shoots par for the course in this regard; no better, no worse.


Gameplay:

Go Vacation is exactly as it advertises itself, minus a few necessary qualifiers. It certainly does contain over fifty types of activities, but of course, it fails to mention that all of them are nothing more than shallow timesinks. If this is exactly the sort of thing you're looking for, stop reading this review and go pick up a copy for the kids. Go Vacation knows its demographic, and delivers a product that should satisfy it -- for a time, at least.

Go Vacation differs from Wii Sports Resort in one major way: the entire island is open for you to explore. This is both a blessing and a curse. Kawawii certainly looks like a fun place to explore, and there's an awful lot to do, whether you want to sightsee or dig into the mini-games. However, most locomotion in Go Vacation is terrible, due to finicky and unresponsive motion controls. The controls are only reliable when you're on foot, but your character is unfortunately slow as a snail. More on that later.

The majority of the experience will be spent completing the Stamp Dash. You'll have a guide the whole way, and she'll always have recommendations for you regarding your stamp list. She'll even mark your map for you and let you know how to get to each event. The Stamp Dash will take you through all four of Kawawii's resorts: the Marine Resort, the Mountain Resort, the Snow Resort, and the City Resort. Each of these resorts is jam packed with specific mini-games that fit the climate/terrain type. For example, the Marine Resort features surfing and jet ski racing, while the City Resort is more about bungee jumping and motorsports. This sense of cohesion helps in the long run, but can't save the mini-games themselves from being boring.


Difficulty:

By design, Go Vacation is supposed to be easy. However, the controls trip a lot of it up. As mentioned before, getting around Kawawii's four resorts is kind of an ordeal. Nearly every form of transportation eschews the Nunchuk's analog stick in favor of motion controls. That wouldn't be a problem if you didn't have to shake the Wii Remote and Nunchuk wildly to move in the first place. Most of the time, this results in your character moving around much like a drunk co-ed at Cancun during spring break -- something I highly doubt Namco Bandai was shooting for.

Game Mechanics:

Go Vacation is compatible with the Wii MotionPlus, but I couldn't tell based on my time with the game. The motion controls are workable at their very best and broken at worst. Vehicle steering in particular is delayed and makes you feel like the most reckless driver on Kawawii. Some games make decent use of the motion controls; volleyball and skydiving are a few that come to mind. Others, like dancing and surfing, feature controls that can only be described as atrocious.

Believe it or not, I enjoyed messing around with my villa a great deal more than I enjoyed playing the mini-games. The villa is unlocked after you win your first twenty stamps. This brings the game into Animal Crossing territory, and constitutes a very welcome reprieve from the rest of the gameplay. Of course, you have to win keys by participating in events if you want to unlock more furniture for your villa, but this sets up a nice incentive for actually playing the game. Of course, several of the games are weak on their own, so you'll have to judge for yourself whether this is a worthwhile investment.

If I had to choose one word to describe Go Vacation, that word would be "shameless." It feels like a last ditch effort to squeeze every last coin out of the Wii Sports crowd. And though that particular crowd will find the variety appealing, they may be disappointed with the quality of the individual mini-games. There is certainly a lot to do in Go Vacation, but most of what it has to offer probably won't hold your attention for more than a few minutes at a time.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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