The Wii has no shortage of mini-games. You could even go so far as to say it has more than its fair share. Four of the five best-selling Wii titles are filled with mini-games, and the only exception is Mario Kart, which isn’t a mini-game, but it is filled with short bursts of gameplay rather than anything with a story-driven campaign. So there is obviously a market for it, and Namco Bandai is well aware of that.
With the Wii in its twilight, we will probably see more games like this — ones that try to squeeze every ounce of the Wii’s fanbase that it can. The genres that already have a proven track record will come fast and furious, while the more experimental games will likely be pushed to the Wii U. There will be exceptions to that rule, but Go Vacation is not one of them.
Instead, Go Vacation is a massive collection of mini-games. You could call it a clone of Wii Sports Resort, and it is to a degree, but the same can be said of almost every military-themed first-person shooter on the 360 and PS3. Go Vacation isn’t the most groundbreakingly original game, but it does several things well.
The game takes place on a series of vacation-themed resorts on Kawawii Island, each with their own mini-games, and each with their own environment, including: marine, city, mountain and snow-themed locations. There are 50 in total, and each game has multiple challenges within. These challenges range from everything from jet ski races, to air hockey and sky diving, and each of these games can be played with up to four players. The island is also laid out with an open-world feel, so you can walk, drive or ride from activity to activity.
None of the games are particularly difficult, and they range in quality and enjoyment as you might expect with so many choices. By “ranging,” I mean some are good and some are really bad. There is a lot of variety, and some of it will also just be a matter of taste, yet there are a few of the games that simply don’t work that well. It is great that the games aren’t all just various models of the same thing and they mostly feel unique, with a few forgivable exceptions, but some are little more than hitting a button at the right time. But there is always something to do that you can enjoy, especially with a group of friends. Some are in-depth like ATV races and require you to move and plan, while others like volleyball boil down to timing and moving the controller at the right moment. These can be simple to the point of being dull. When the games are good, they are fun, when they are not, they are tedious and occasionally frustrating.
Go Vacation is a simple game, and that is never more in evident than with the AI. It follows patterns more than it actually competes. This is never clearer than in races, when you may be ahead and an AI opponent will slam into you — not because they want to wreck you, but because they are going in a straight line and you happened to get in their way. Travelling around the open world is fun for a bit, especially when you are on a vehicle, but the huge variety of NPCs end up being little more than rocks. You can run into them at full speed and it is about the same as running into a wall. They are background to make the island seem alive, which is fine, but also unnecessary and a golden opportunity missed. It ends up feeling like the island is unnecessary and gives the game a hollow feel, like it is mostly show and no substance.
While on the island, there are a few things to explore for like new outfits, plus there are a handful of mini-games that aren’t part of the guided tour, but the island really isn’t used to much effect. The loading screens are also frequent, but are generally short. After a few times seeing them though, you will probably get a bit tired of them.
Go Vacation also manages to utilize pretty much every Wii peripheral made, including the Motion Plus controller, the zapper and the balance board. You don’t need them, but if you are looking for an excuse to use those items, you finally have another chance.
Go Vacation is best when played as a multiplayer title for players of all ages. The best thing about the mini-games is the variety. The actual gameplay is somewhat simplistic, but the variety keeps the games feeling fresh, plus that makes it great for families and party goers. It probably won’t be enough of a draw for hardcore gamers, though. The single-player mode may appeal to kids, but the lack of substance in the island and AI makes playing alone quite alienating.
Go Vacation isn’t quite at the same level that its “cousin” Wii Sports Resort is at, but it does have a lot to offer to people who like the mini-game concept. If you are looking for a new game to play at a party or with friends, than the wide variety of activities should appeal to you. In general, Go Vacation feels a bit underdeveloped, but there are still a lot of things to like.
(This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Wii on a copy provided by Namco Bandai)