Vacation Isle: Beach Party

7.0 Overall Score

Written by on January 4, 2011 in

Are you as tired of the winter weather as I am?  Ready to escape to an island filled with tons of fun in the sun?  Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and FarSight Studios hope so.  They have created a game for the Wii that includes 8 “vacation-style” games that hope to take us all to a warmer world.  Do they succeed in their mission?  Let me run through my experience with the game.

I played the game over the holidays and recruited my nephews and niece to aid me.  They range in age from 8 to 14.  The game can be played as a single player game but it can also be shared with up to 3 others.  We started up the game and were on our way to a warm sandy beaches and sunny blue skies.  After calibrating my Wii balance board we got to create our characters. Before I go any further, I want to say that you do not need a balance board to play this game.  The game’s creators have offered alternative controls for people for every activity.  The characters have a certain amount of customization and a small choice in beach wear to start.  After naming our characters we got a brief intro from our activities director on the game and then dove into our first activity.  We had gone to Hawaii in the last year and many of the activities reminded us of things we saw there.  The activities include hula dancing, fire dancing, surfing, ski slalom, wakeboarding, a jetski stunt park, stand-up paddling, and ski jumping.

Yes it's in spanish but it is fun in any language.

The crew decided to start out with the dancing.  We chose from three dances and 3 different difficulty levels (Easy, Medium, and Hard).  I had to force the kids not to click through the instructions but, luckily, they were short, concise, and fairly easy to understand.  The hula dancing consists of timing moves with either the Wii-mote or nunchuck or both of them together along with sections where you must rotate your hips to the music in a horizontal scrolling Guitar Hero style setup.  Your character stands front and center.  For every correct action we did we earn sand dollars, the game’s form of currency.  The moves were fun and we found ourselves swaying and really getting into the spirit of the dance.  I did find the hip rotating section a little strange since the game seemed to give points to me only when I rotated in, what seemed to me to be, the opposite direction from the way they showed the arrows on the screen.  If you don’t have the balance board you can use the joystick on the nunchuck to get through the hip gyration sections of the dance.  I found this control system much easier to do but definitely less fun.  At the end of the dance the game counts up the dollars you earned and shows the leaderboard.  In true family gaming style the leader board shows the players in the order of how many dollars earned but does not show a score.  Instead each player earns a title such as “Average”, “Good”, “Great”, or even “Amazing” hula dancer.  This same rating system is used in activities such as fire dancing and surfing.  Other Activities do have a point score.

All of the other activities share the same basic format.  You get a brief lesson on how to play then go try to earn as many sand dollars as you can.  The fire dancing adds an opportunity to earn extra sand dollars for doing a flip while the flaming baton is up in the air.  It took a bit of practice for us but while the baton is in the air you need to step off of the board like they show you on screen and you will flip.  Surfing is my personal favorite activity.  While I was a lot more accurate using the nunchuck to go up and down along the wave to grab sand dollars, I love using the balance board to hang ten.  I really started to feel like I was riding the wave as I leaned one way or another to get up or down the wave.  I had to avoid a few obstacles or risk losing sand dollars if I collided with a giant squid, a shark, or docks.  This will be the activity I will definitely be playing over and over in the game.

The other activities were fun but the slalom was extremely difficult for me to play.  The game had me try to zig and zag between buoys that were set at either side of the screen.  Miss too many of the buoy gates and the race is over.  To be honest my first mistake was placing the balance board the opposite way that I was supposed to.  I will warn you that if you should do this you will find yourself thoroughly confused as to why you lean left and your skier goes right and vice versa.  The wakeboarding activity is similar but you are on a wake board and are going through the course and can shake the Wii-mote, or the nunchuck and hold down the ‘B’ or ‘Z’ buttons while in the air to do tricks and earn more points. This is an option with all the waterskiing activities as well.  The ski jump is similar to the slalom using waterskis to jump off of ramps set at either side of the screen.  Collect a propeller along the water to add a speed boost when you jump.  The key to this activity is to catch as much air as possible off of each ramp.  The jetski stunt park has some of the most awkward controls.  You sit on the balance board and lean to help steer the craft.  The two controllers are held up together to form the handlebars.  Using the ‘B’ button to go forward and the ‘Z’ button to go backwards you maneuver your way through the course trying to smash through the gate at the end of each course before time runs out.  I had a difficult time trying to use the controller ‘handlebars’ to steer the watercraft the way they wanted me to.  I was supposed to angle the pair one way or the other to steer and it seemed less responsive than I would have liked. It was fun but not easy to master.  The Standing Paddle was cute as I used the Wii mote as the paddle and the balance board to steer my way through the course.  It was a simple control system that really worked well.

Once we had earned plenty of sand dollars in our island adventures my gang could head over to the surf shack in the game and spend them to buy new outfits and equipment to use in the activities.  The gear does not add any stats to help you do better in the game.  It is all a matter of fashion sense and looking good.  But, hey, who doesn’t want to look good on vacation?

At the end of the day all of my fellow travelers and I had found our favorite activities and had played the game for quite a few solid hours.  This is s a great game for all ages and gives enough variety to allow everyone the opportunity to shine.  The controls for most of the activities were quick to pick up and even if a child was not patient enough for the brief tutorial they were able to pick up the mechanics very quickly.  The incorporation of the Wii balance board into the controls not only made me glad I had one but really made the experience feel more real.  The good news is that you do not need the balance board to play but those that already have one will be glad they do.  As I have said before I stumbled with the controls of a few of the activities but that did not dull the fun I had with the other activities.  The game is very reasonably priced at $19.99 USD and provides some great entertainment.  So for those of you that have a desire to capture some fun in the sun this winter I recommend checking out this game for you, your family and friends.

A copy of the game Vacation Isle: Beach Party was provided to The Married Gamers for the purpose of examination and review.


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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

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