Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Studios Inc.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: July 27, 2018 (EU & NA)
“Honey! you can cancel those plane tickets. I’ve found a much more affordable, yet expansive holiday plan and the family is going to love it!”
After losing Miitomo back in May, my Mii felt sad and alone and had nowhere to go. I was pretty beat up about it as well. The few years we spent together, I cherished and now it was all gone. My Mii and I needed to move on from the loss of Miitomo and get away from it all. Perhaps it was time my Mii and I took a Vacation? And then, the answer came… Go Vacation was coming to Nintendo Switch!
Some people may think that Go Vacation is Bandai Namco‘s own spin on Wii Sports Resort. I like to think that it is so much more than that. Go Vacation released in 2011 on the Nintendo Wii, two years after Wii Sports Resort. Wii Sports Resort boasts 12 different minigames including archery, wakeboarding and fencing, that had their own different modes and challenges. It had a central hub menu where you could choose where you wanted to go and you would be taken directly to that minigame.
Go Vacation may have taken inspiration from Wii Sports Resort but Bandai Namco built upon its foundations and created the living, breathing Kawawii Island with four themed resorts and over 50 different activities to immerse and entertain yourself with. Though there are menus you can choose to go through to get directly to the activities you want to do, most of them you have to physically discover first by walking or taking the available mode of transport like horses, water bikes, ATV’s, roller skates, off-road cars and snow mobiles.
For a Wii Game that has been ported to the Nintendo Switch, there hasn’t been a highly significant overhaul graphically. The graphics have been touched up but there are still a few rough edges around character models and scenery. With that said, Go Vacation still manages to be a visually stunning game that I feel does indeed capture the essence of what it was trying to represent. Everything around you is easily distinguishable and instantly recognizable. Go Vacation may not be a 1080p masterpiece but it certainly is nice to look at.
The music changes depending on the type of activity you are doing or your current setting. It can be charming, soothing, energetic and/or upbeat and though it can be a little repetitive at times, I never found it to be irritating and actually enjoyed listening to it. The sound effects are easily recognizable like the sounds of the ATV motor as you race about the marine resort, the bubble effects in the SCUBA diving activity, the gentle clopping of your horse or the pitch changes of the water bike as you jump off and land on the water’s surface.
Go Vacation can be enjoyed as a single player experience or with other players. Up to four players can play together on a single switch console with split-screen or you can link up Switch consoles via Local Wireless. Even if you are playing alone, you can create a party with up to three NPC’s and even your own doggy partner.
When setting up your character for the first time, you can choose either your Nintendo Mii or an avatar provided in game. If you choose Mii, you can pick one of your Mii’s that you have created on your Switch. If you have made up your own Mii, you will have to go to the Switch main menu and create your own Mii on the profile settings. If you don’t want to use a Mii, you can select between a number of preset male and female avatars of different ages and races that you would like to play as.
Don’t worry too much about your attire, you will be able to change your apparel as much as you like as you unlock more outfits to wear. It is worth noting that Mii characters can not wear hats or glasses but you can switch between Mii and Avatar anytime you like on the character selection screen.
As mentioned before, there are 50 different activities spread through 4 differently themed resorts to try your hand at on Kawawii Island. The Marine Resort is home to watersports activities. The City Resort boasts loads of urban fun. The Mountain Resort has plenty of wilderness themed activities and the Snow Resort will have you carving a name for yourself in the high octane sports of Snowboarding, Skiing, Snowmobile racing and more.
From Scuba Diving the depths of the Mystery Sea to scaling the summit of Tonga Blanca, Kawawii Island is the full holiday package. You can participate in skydiving, water gun fights, marine bike racing, horseback riding, kayaking, snowtubing. Treasure hunting, animal photography and so on. With so many activities to do, there is surely something that will take your fancy.
Gameplay wise, there are some activities show a strong likeness to others available in-game. Each resort has a number of races and stunt challenges that have the same principles but a different aesthetic. For example, Marine bike and ATV races take place on two completely different terrains but the general rule of getting from start to finish whilst beating your competitors by holding down the A button and using the joystick to change direction is still the same. The courses themselves are not the same so each activity finds it’s own identity be offering diverse race tracks that differ from one to the other.
Some activities offer more than just a simple mode of play. The Scuba Diving activity has two modes; Casual dive and Fish Search. Fish search has players compete against each other to find a set number of sea life creatures before time is out. Casual Diving is a single player experience that allows the player to explore 4 unique dive sites in their own time while air supply lasts. Players can opt to just swim around aimlessly for the fun of it whilst watching the many different marine creatures swim around the reefs and wrecks.
An additional challenge makes thing more interesting by trying to photograph every single species of marine life over the four dive sites. With 49 different critters (9 more than the Wii version), you will be diving each site over and over again to find every last marine creature so you can be awarded the title of Master Diver.
Trying to find every activity takes a lot of work. Fortunately, your friendly tour guide is on hand at the information desk at each resort and can help point you in the direction of the next recommended activity. By going to each recommended activity and participating, you will receive a stamp. These stamps not only highlight what activities you have played but by collecting enough stamps, you can unlock other Resorts as you can only play in the Marine Resort when you first load up the game. After collecting 20 stamps, you will be given your own luxury villa that you can decorate however you like.
When you first receive your villa, you are quite limited to what you can decorate with. You may have noticed that when you complete challenges pertaining to activities, you will be rewarded experience points. When you level up, you will be rewarded with keys that you can use to unlock more decor for your villa including, Sofas, beds, TV units, Petition screens and also new villa skins. When you are connected to the internet, you can save a “ghost” of your villa so that other players can visit your villa and leave a Like if they want to. Nothing like a good old fashion home invasion while you are on holiday, am I right?
Across each resort, there are a number oh hidden chests to find. They contain special items like outfits and transportation skins so you can customize your character and your current transportation. There are also daily rewards to collect as well that can also give you outfits, transportation skins or even new dog buddies to follow you on your adventure.
As well as personal transportation, there are a number of “Fast Travel” transportation available as well. Motorboats, Airplanes, Helicopters and Ski Rails are just a few of the options available that you can use to get to a particular destination in mind. You will be given a cut-scene animation as your character takes the different transportation available but you can skip it any time with ‘A’.
The Wii version of Go Vacation utilized a great many of the Wii Peripherals like the Wii Zapper, Wii Balance Board and the Wheel accessory. The Switch version does away with all that with the exception of the Switch wheel accessory but it is very much optional. You can choose to play solely on the Switch console in handheld mode, opt for a pro controller, play with dual Joy-Cons or single Joy-Cons. There is also the option to play with standard or motion controls.
There are not really many different button inputs except for when playing the stunt challenges. You can very easily play with a single Joy-Con and have a lot of fun, though prolonged use can result in hand stiffness. There are controller accessories you can use for a single Joy-Con which help bulk it out where necessary while still providing plenty of accessibility to all buttons.
One topic that does need to be addressed is the lack of information as regards to online play. Though neither Bandai Namco or Nintendo mention online play, Online Play was indeed mentioned on the eShop listing for Go Vacation. Whether there is a typo or just misinformation that has slipped through the net. I do feel that Go Vacation would have benefited from having actual online play available, as opposed to just being able to visit other players villas, thanks to Ghost Data. But, if Local Wireless is not a problem between 2-4 switch consoles, then online play should be the next plausible step. Players would be able to create an online party with their friends around the world and enjoy all the wonderful activities available on Kawawii Island.
I can’t begin to understand why Go Vacation has received sub-par reviews from top media sites. Go Vacation may not be the biggest and greatest game of all time, but ever since I saw the adverts of the game coming to Switch and actually playing it myself, I have not been disappointed. There are some flaws like the lack of online play or not being to give your Mii characters hats or glasses, but those pale in comparison to what you can do and achieve in this game.
Okay, so the price of the game is quite costly, especially seeing as it is a port of a seven year old game. If you begin to break it down however, you will see that you are essentially getting 50 different games for $49.99, that is a dollar per game! So there may be some minigames that you like more than others but there are so many hours of fun to be had alone or with friends and family and you don’t even need to leave your home to do so. Unless you want to leave the house? After all, you can take the Switch pretty much anywhere!
The best part for me of course, is being able to use Miis. I have had the same Mii since the Wii and any game that I can play as Mii, I am more than happy to play. Though Go Vacation has its own pre-set avatars, the Miis have so much more individuality and with Miitomo gone (Why Nintendo? Why?), my Mii can now live on happily in his own luxury villa on a tropical island instead of in a tiny shoebox on my smartphone.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*Review Key Provided by Nintendo
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This post was written by Mike Scorpio