The sun seems to have left the UK for the time being, likely until next Spring. In its place we have grey skies, rain and a particularly chilly wind. Now would be the perfect time to go on vacation.
It may not be quite the same, but Namco Bandai have provided Go Vacation for all of my holiday needs. The game transports the player to the beautiful island of Kawawii and ensures that there is never a dull moment by offering some 50 odd mini games spread across the four resorts on the island for the player and three friends to enjoy.
Unlike a lot of mini-game compilations, Go Vacation actually has two ways of keeping everything cohesive and together. The first is the wonderful open-world feeling of the game, allowing the player to explore the island of Kawawii and travel from one mini-game, or activity if you prefer, to the next. The other type of glue used in the game is the Kawawii Stamp Dash. From the very beginning, the player is guided to certain activities by an advisor and upon completing these activities for the first time, the player receives a stamp. These stamps will allow the player to access the other resorts in the game as they progress.
The island is actually fairly big and whereas exploring on foot is certainly an option, it is much for fun to take one of the games vehicles such as the Jetski, Quad bike or a horse. These vehicles are used not only for transporting the player around the island, but they also make up a large number of the games, in the form of races and such. Controlling the vehicles is fairly straight forward, simply tilting the Wiimote and Nunchuk, and so hurtling around the island, or participating in races, is highly enjoyable.
But there is plenty more to do besides the vehicles. All around the island and the four resorts are other activities to participate in, such as scuba diving, sky diving, tennis, volleyball and that’s just in the first resort. The games offer a nice variety and don’t offer anything too strenuous on the mind or body. Some of the games can make more of a meal of the controls than they need to, overcomplicating things. But for the most part they are all good fun.
Beyond the mini games, the island has a fair few secrets to encourage exploring. Players are given a villa to call home and can find items with which to make it more homely. They can also find outfits to give their Avatars a new look.
The fun on the island is certainly not a solo pursuit, with three other players able to join in the fun of both the mini games and, in a four-way split-screen, exploring the island. Although there is a distinct drop in quality when the screen is split four ways, I have seen a lot worse and it in no way reduces the fun.
The island is lovely to look at. The four different resorts – Marine, Mountain, City and Snow – are all quite nicely detailed and encourage exploration. The mini-games are all clearly marked for the player to navigate to, should they not want to spend time exploring, and they are all themed to fit in with their resort.
The concept of an island resort may have been done before on the Wii, and may have been done better. But with some 50 odd activities available on the island of Kawawii, Go Vacation is not beaten on variety. The games are all fairly simple, and emphasise the fact that this title is aimed at the younger audience. It doesn’t have the feel of a party game, but is more suitable for gathering the family around the TV for some interactive, family-friendly fun.
Go Vacation does absolutely nothing wrong, it just feels a bit late to the party. Although not really holding anything captivating for the single player, for a group of family or friends Go Vacation can provide a Wii-related ray of sunshine during these dark, wintry days.