Game - Summer Sports: Paradise Island
Genre – Sports – Various
Platform – Wii
It’s no secret that the Wii is desperately in need of third-party titles. The old fallbacks, Mario, Zelda and Metroid, are well represented on the console, and there’s the ubiquitous Wii Sports, of course, but outside of No More Heroes and Zack & Wiki, there’s not much worth playing that’s not a Nintendo product. Destineer has thrown their hat in the ring with their semi-casual sports compilation, Summer Sports: Paradise Island. Can it help elevate the Wii’s third-party library above the level of mediocre? No. Not at all, in fact.
Summer Sports: Paradise Island is a compilation of mini games based on popular outdoor sports. Lawn darts, horseshoes, volleyball, badminton, mini-golf, croquet, and several basketball games are on the roster, and each is controlled entirely with the Wii-mote. For some games, like croquet, horseshoes, mini-golf and lawn darts, the translation from actual sport to Wii-mote control makes perfect sense and at least seems instinctual. The volleyball, badminton and basketball games are not as good a fit, and the control scheme seems a bit shoehorned in. It doesn’t really matter, however, as none of the games control well. Sometimes, the controls seem far too sensitive, especially in basketball and lawn darts, where an inch of motion can mean the difference between a severe underthrow and a massive overthrow. In other games, like mini-golf, the controls don’t seem to work at all sometimes, meaning you’ll try and fail over and over again to simply hit the ball. And don’t even get me started on badminton, where you have zero control of the direction of your shots, but still hit the shuttlecock out of bounds about fifty percent of the time.
The whole game features a tropical island theme, with tiki idols and sandy beaches aplenty. The soundtrack is loaded with relaxing steel drum music that does compliments the theme very well. All the menus, load screens and environments stick to the formula as well, evoking thoughts of Bermuda shorts and daiquiris for the duration of the game.
The Wii has never been touted as a graphical monster, and Summer Sports doesn’t do much to change that perception. Character models are okay, but suffer from major jaggies and look a bit blurry and muddy in general. They animate reasonably well, with some notable exceptions – serving in either of the net sports is laughable looking, with your player never actually making contact with the ball/shuttlecock. The environments are well-envisioned, and feature some nice art design, but poor textures, a total lack of interactivity and generally low-poly elements keep them from looking all that good.
When reviewing most games, it’s a good idea to bring up the game’s various modes and extras. I would love to do that here, but there are none. All the mini-games are available for 1-4 players, but that’s it. No career mode, no online play, no stat keeping, no tournaments. Nothing. I know it’s a family-friendly, semi-casual game, but with only exhibition mode to play in, and zero unlockables, there’s almost nothing here to keep gamers coming back for more once they’ve tried all of the games a few times.
If you loved Wii Sports (and I mean REALLY loved it,) don’t mind terrible motion controls, and have two or three friends willing to play a few sub-par mini-games, then Summer Sports: Paradise Island may be worth a rental. For most Wii owners, though, it stands as just another in a string of third-party disappointment.