Go Vacation, Nintendo Switch review: Not the Wii Sports substitute you were looking for

£39.99 - Namco Bandai 

Jack Shepherd
Tuesday 31 July 2018 16:36 BST

The Nintendo Switch has been screaming out for a solid party game ever since launch. 1-2-3 Switch was an OK start, showing off the console’s capabilities, but there’s so much untapped potential – something Super Mario Party will no doubt tap into.

Until the next instalment in the Mario Party series touches down, though, we have Go Vacation, an old Namco Bandai game that was originally released on Wii and has been ported to the Switch.

Originally seen as a Wii Sports knock off, the game picked up a sizeable fan-base but never became a classic. And for good reason: the mini-games were entertaining but not as fun or easy to pick-up-and-play as those on Wii Sports Resort, which made for the ideal party starter.

So, how does Go Vacation fare on Switch? Not particularly well. The graphics are dated, the controls frustrating, and the mini-games are uninspired.

First, we should note that there are a lot of mini-games. Dozens of them. There are the classics, such as tennis, mini gold, and fishing. Then there are the slightly more bizarre, such as throwing balls into a barrel and pie throwing. Then there’s hand-gliding, wheel slider (AKA roller-skating down a tunnel), bungee jumping... the list goes on, and they all sound way more exciting than they actually are.

Take, for instance, bungee jumping, that death-defying stunt for adrenaline junkies. Sounds fun, right? Wrong. On Go Vacation, the idea is that you pull up your controller at the right time to avoid smashing into the floor. That’s it. You yank your hands back at the right time. I managed to pull off a perfect score on the third jump, and for each jump I had to go through about 30 seconds of menus. Why would you ever return to the mini-game?

Another example: water gun battles. The problem here is that, as you can’t look around with the right joy-stick (you only use the left, and that goes for throughout the entire game) there’s not a whole lot of precision. You just turn left and right, then shoot. It’s such a basic, frustrating control system.

Then there are the races. Whether in a high-speed car, on roller-skates, on an ATV: there’s not much technique other than going round and round a course. Which could have been fun, but the courses are so dull and the racing itself not challenging at all. Even tennis has been dulled down to just pressing a button rather than swinging a Joy-Con.

And that’s the problem. None of these games use the Switch to its full potential. Volleyball, for instance, only requires two button touches – one to jump, one to hit – without any moving your characters (and it’s somehow one of the best games in the collection). So many of these mini-games are pointless, it feels as if they are added just so the marketing team can wang ”Over 50 activities to try out!” sticker on the box. Even when playing with a friend, these games are still frustratingly slow or lacking skill, meaning the competition feels lazy.

We have not, of course, mentioned the game’s setting. Kawawii Island has four unique paradise locations – Marine, City, Mountain, and Snow – which are the highlights of the game. The graphics may be dated, but at least walking around you feel as if you are on holiday. Finding the secrets of the pleasant, harmless island is more entertaining than any of the mini-games, offering so much more to do. However, even the four open areas have annoying problems; you can only interact with a handful of NPCs and you cannot (as mentioned) look around with the right joystick. It’s simple – very simple – and seemingly made for children below the age of six. Which is fine, but parents can entertain their children much better with the LEGO games.

Plus, players are really here to play the 50 activities, not walk around a game with dated graphics updating their holiday home (or maybe they are, but then there are other games I would recommend).

Wii Sports kept things very, very simple, but has become a lasting classic as a result. Go Vacation tries too many things without landing any. You can try 50 activities, but chances are you won’t be revisiting any of them anytime soon. Would I rather have five timeless, simple games that are entertaining than 50 that I’m already bored of? Absolutely. So bring on Switch Sports.

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