Game Review: Go Vacation
Release: October 11, 2011
Genre: Family Entertainment
Developer: Namco Bandai
Available Platforms: Wii
Players: 1 – 4
MSRP: $39.99 US
ESRB Rating: E10+
Go Vacation has redefined the term “All Inclusive Vacation”. Take a virtual trip to Kawawii Island, where if you can’t find enough to keep you busy, you’re just not looking hard enough. The island is divided into four, huge, un-creatively named resorts: Beach Resort, City Resort, Snow Resort and Mountain Resort. While the names may be lame, each resort is packed with mini-games, activities and NPCs to keep you busy for a very, very long time.
The game opens at the Beach Resort where the main modes of transport are Jet Skis and ATVs, but there is always the option of walking and swimming in the resorts. Transportation is needed because the resorts are vast and spacious with a bit of a commute needed to get from one activity to another. This open-world feel allows you to wander and explore or follow the recommendation of your guide who will point you in the direction of the next activity. Each beach themed activity, such as volleyball, squirt-gun fights, parasailing, jet ski racing, etc. earns a stamp in your passport ,even if you do not win, and earning just four stamps will unlock the next area, the City Resort.
Each of the following three resorts each require four more stamps to unlock them, so earning just twelve stamps will unlock all of the resort area. But wait – there’s more. Get twenty stamps and get your own villa where you can make the two-story home-away-from-home your own by arranging furniture and décor to you liking. There are hidden treasures, clues and quest to be found in each resort, some of which will have you chasing from resort to resort, others are as simple as just kicking back and enjoying the scenery on a train, boat or helicopter ride. Rewards include everything from new clothing for your Mii to wear or new equipment or items for your villa. Did I mention this game was huge?
Scattered all over the island are photo opportunities where you can get your picture taken alone, with the other players in your game and your AI companions and pets. Yep, if you are playing alone, another Mii from your system will show up and you can invite them to tag along with you. There also seems to be several trusting individuals who will loan you their dog to tag along with you also. The collection of “stuff” to do goes way beyond mini-games and borders on a virtual life experience. You can even watch “vacation video” replays of any event before leaving that event.
The best thing about this game is that there is something here for everyone. All of the usual suspects are here: racing, tennis, skiing, shooting, carnival games, etc. but it is the unlikely activities that give Go Vacation that extra push to place it above other mini-game collections. Surfing, Capture The Flag on Skateboards, White Water Rafting and Scuba Diving stand out as being unique and fresh.
With all of these games and activities, there is some switching of controls frequently, such as adding and removing the nun-chuck. I understand having some consistency through the game helps make it an easier learning curve, but using the same controls for horseback riding, ATV racing, jet skis and skateboards feels like an opportunity was missed to make each special and less generic. Unfortunately, the controls are not editable. All of that aside, Go Vacation supports nearly every accessory you can connect to your Wii or Wiimote including the Wii Zapper, Motion Plus and the Wii BalanceBoard.
I look for Go Vacation to be a hit for families this holiday season. It is priced reasonably and literally could provide hundreds of hours of game play. My family has latched on to this during my review and we have played nearly twenty hours and I feel we have barely scratched the surface. This is a relaxing and frustration-free game that is fun for family members of all ages.
- Huge open world to explore
- Fresh new games and activities mixed with old favorites
- Great value and great fun
- Controls are a bit repetitive
- No helmets or safety equipment on Kawawii?
Final Score : 9 out of 10