A NintendoFuse Review by Jeremy Hardin (JHardin1112)
Game – Go Vacation
Version – Wii
Obtained – Review Copy courtesy of Namco Bandai Games
Go Vacation is at it’s core a collection of mini-games, but it is also an exploration game and you get rewarded for that exploration. Honestly, if you took away the exploration and were left with just the mini-games to participate in, then I’d tell you to pass on Go Vacation. Thankfully, that is not the case. When you’re playing this game you’ll find that it’s not just about participating in activities, it’s really about experiencing the environment in which the activities take place. Trust me when I say, there is a lot of to see and a lot to do. Go Vacation is packed with charm, style, personality and fun!
Gameplay and Controls
Each resort has what is called a Stamp Dash, for each activity you participate in, you receive a stamp of completion. The more stamps you unlock, the more rewards you get. At the bare minimum, you must complete 12 activities to unlock all 4 resorts. However, there are 50 stamps to collect in all so you’d be missing out if you stopped at 12. To add even more to the resort feeling, you can unlock your own personal villa at 20 stamps. I just unlocked mine last night! I think this a great addition to the game because not only do you have a place to call your own, you can visit other villas (with support for up to 8). You can even decorate the villa, rearrange furniture, remove furniture and more! If you like Sims, I think you will definitely like this aspect of the game. Wait, there’s more! As you can see from the box art and other screenshots, you play as this cute generic looking character (that’s the best way I know how to describe it), but you also have the option to play as your Mii! I know it’s a little thing, but this got me more involved with the game just being able to play as my Mii. As you explore the resorts, you will be rewarded for your efforts. On each resort there are 7 hidden treasure chests to find. So far, I have only found 3 but I’m going back for more. In the 3 I have found, there were different outfits in each. These outfits can be applied at your villa. You can choose from the clothing, gloves, shoes and you can even choose between 16 different colors. Right now, I’m wearing something called a Hero Outfit in blue with silver gloves and silver shoes. Honestly, it reminds me slightly of a Samurai outfit, sans the helmet and sword.
That was a fun rapids ride! I rode the current down without a boat, sweet!
On the map there will always be a red dot suggesting to you which activity to next participate in, but you are still free to go your own way if you choose. This means you have a lot of freedom to just run around and take it all in at your leisure. I can tell you that I spent a couple of hours just exploring the first resort and I still haven’t seen it all. I found myself getting distracted by the jet-ski’s on the beach resort. I just like to ride around, go off the ramps and execute tricks, it’s a fun distraction!
Alright, so I just mentioned that you can go your own way. As you explore the resorts you will see icons above the heads of NPC’s, some of these will be activities, some will be photo spots, and some will just be people who have something to say. Sometimes what the people have to say might even be useful, a hint perhaps. Heck, you can even ‘adopt’ a dog who follows you along everywhere you go and there are different dogs to choose from. There is so much to see and do in this game it’s a bit surprising to me.
While I didn’t have a chance to experience this, the game does support up to 4 players. In my case, since I was playing solo, as I explored the resorts I ran across Mii’s from my console with special icons above their heads. I was given the option of inviting them to play with me and near as I can tell they follow you along wherever you go. Plus, I think they participate as AI in any multi-player activities you compete in. Again, just another example of the efforts the development team made in order to create a more personal gaming experience.
You can even release colored smoke as you’re skydiving. Necessary? No. Cool? YES!
While it is all well and good to have an open game world that encourages exploration, sometimes you don’t want to walk, skip (yes, you can skip), run, jump, ride an atv, jet ski or use any of the other several modes of transportation to get across the resorts. Thankfully, Go Vacation has fast travel. If you pull up your menu and view the map, you will see spots marked on the map which you can jump to immediately. This will save you a lot of time, however, you will miss out on the exploration. For the first few hours I made my way across the resorts without the map locations, I just started using the fast travel last night.
Okay, now I’ve gone on and on about the gameplay, let’s talk about the mini-games themselves.
As you know, there are 50+ mini-games to participate in. The plus (+) means that there are more like 100. The difference being they are slight variations of the original activities. I’m just going to focus on the main activities for this part of the review. You have to assume that with 50 mini-games there have to be some duds. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back, because you’re correct. There are a few duds, thankfully not too many. In reference to the duds only, while the activities look good, the gameplay is lacking. For instance, beach volleyball has your characters moving automatically and all you do is swing the remote to hit the ball or serve. You can spike the ball while pressing B and swinging, but I never got that to work. Tennis was alright and it supports Wii Motion Plus, but the atmosphere was quite bland. There wasn’t any music playing or many sound effects. I felt that detracted from the experience. Also, I suck at hang-gliding, apparently. Oh well, they can’t all be winners.
Now that I’ve gotten a little negativity about the some of the mini-games, I’ll focus on more positive aspects. The majority of the games are fun, charming and enjoyable. Even if there isn’t much going on, the surrounding atmosphere, attention to details, and visuals alone were worth it. I really enjoyed the ATV racing, Jet-Ski races, Triathalon , Kayaking and bungee jumping. I know I’ve been going on about the gameplay and all, but bear with me a moment more and then I’ll get into the controls. If you’ve stuck with me this far, I thank you kindly.
Yes, you can explore that castle in the background. Yes, you can swim in that lake. Yes, you can ride on that boat.
If you are interested to know, here are some of the modes of transportation you can use.
- Jet Ski
- Roller blade
- Off-road car
I’m not kidding when I say the controls were a let down, at least, just a bit. If you’re doing anything other than walking or swimming controlling your vehicle of choice can be slightly nonsensical. Here’s a great example; when you’re driving the ATV in order to steer you must turn the nunchuk and wiimote to the left or right. Actually, this is true for most of the vehicles. Instead of letting you use the control stick to move the vehicles around they mapped tricks to the control stick and d-pad. Also, for other modes of transportation such as skis, you have to pump your arms up and down while holding the wiimote and nunchuk. I get that this slightly mimics what it’s like to ski, but it really is not the most ideal mapping of controls. I want to make sure I clarify, this isn’t about waggling. The controls are more about slight turns and flicking your remote to perform tricks where applicable and the controls do work. This doesn’t make the game horrible and it doesn’t make me want to play it any less. It just creates a slight level of frustration I don’t need while trying to fully enjoy this fun game. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen all that often.
Visuals and Sound
The visuals are cute and charming. What else can I say except that this is a cute game? The game is packed with a lot of visual detail too. The water reflection looks nice, whether it be on the shores or on a lake or in a creek bed. The character models are fairly generic, but the overall customization options adds that touch of uniqueness. The resorts are very large and being able to see a mountain in the distance and know you can climb it is a great feeling. Or when you see a waterfall and wonder if you can go behind it, or jump from the top of it. The animal models look pretty good too, as I was swimming in a lake I came across some ducks that look quite realistic. Again, it’s the little things that I appreciate. The only thing I noticed with the visuals were pop-ins. I was driving my Off-Road car and other cars would pop-in fairly close to where I was driving. I did have time to get out of the way, I just wasn’t expecting that to happen.
The sound effects are just as cute and charming. The music is catchy and fits well with each resort. I enjoyed running around the beach resort and walking up to the buildings to hear tropical themed music playing. If I had to complain about the music, it would be that there wasn’t enough. I think a great addition would have been a radio you could tune to different stations as you explored the islands.
Concluding Overall Impressions
I admit, exploration is not for everyone, neither are mini-games. Sometimes people just want fast paced action and constant stimulation. Then there are some like me who likes the action but also likes the easy going games. So, if you’re like me and you’re looking for a relaxing game, with hours of exploration, rewards for your exploratory nature, several customization options and 50+ activities to participate in then Go Vacation is absolutely for you. At $29.99, Go Vacation should be in your library of games.
Final Score: 4.5 out of 5