I know it sounds like hyperbole, but for my family Go Vacation has been as engaging and time-consuming as Skyrim seems to have been for our more hard-core gaming friends.
This may sound a little surprising, but I think the comparison holds true. It actually surprised me as well; I didn’t initially know that Go Vacation was anything more than a mini-game collection on the Wii.
After a little play I realized why it all looked so familiar: It’s the sequel to one of my favorite Wii games, We Ski. This game (and its followup We Ski and Snowboard) offered motion-controlled skiing challenges that slowly opened out into a free world adventure where you explore a massive alpine landscape, meet people, complete quests and improve your skiing skills.
Better that all that, though, you could play them in four-player split-screen mode, and each progressed your character simultaneously. Even in split-screen mode the game looked fantastic and made great use of our family Miis, which always goes down well with the kids.
Before I get onto talking about how Go Vacation takes this seed and breathes new life into it, it’s worth knowing that you can try out the We Ski experience for peanuts, as it has been out for a while. There are also some great snowboard accessories for the Balance Board for added realism. Here are your options:
- We Ski ($10 on Amazon) – Wii Remote/Nunchuk with Balance Board support.
- We Ski and Snowboard ($20 on Amazon) – Wii Remote/Nunchuk with Balance Board support.
- Go Vacation ($34 on Amazon) – Wii Remote/Nunchuk with MotionPlus and Balance Board support.
- Beginners’ snowboard accessory available ($69 on Amazon).
- Advanced Snowboard accessory available ($79 on Amazon).
Go Vacation takes this idea and expands it into four different worlds with 50 different sports activities to learn, people to meet, treasures to find and errands to run. Sure, there’s no fighting and the character development isn’t detailed, but for families this really is a Skyrim-quality adventure.
Each location — City, Beach, Ski and Mountain) — has its own motion-controlled mode of transport and range of missions, sports activities, collectibles and mysteries to solve. Each starts off by directing you to complete a series of mini-game based challenges before letting you loose. These include Jet Ski, ATV, Surfing and Skiing activities similar to Family Ski, but also more sport-centric based games like Volleyball, Tennis and Skating.
The best of these mini-games was the tennis. Although this doesn’t offer the exquisite one-to-one control of Wii Sports Resort‘s table tennis mode, it does do a solid job or providing a version of Wii tennis where you can control drop shots and lobs and player movement at the same time as a swing mechanic.
The attention to detail and good design decisions of the tennis game result in the best Wii tennis experience since Wii Sports and Grand Slam Tennis (I’m still smarting from the lack of a Wii Grand Slam Tennis 2 in favor of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions). This is typical of all 50 activities that do a good job of being great fun and capturing the spirit of the real world activities in a way that similar Wii title Sports Island never quite managed.
Don’t miss out on a real treat, and a great reason to dust off your Miis — and perhaps that diminutive white console that lies buried beneath your TV.
It’s the kind of game that makes me wish I gave video games scores out of 10. If I did I would only have handed out a few 10s on the Wii, and Go Vacation would get one of them now for sure.