Column: Ranking the sports of Wii Sports Resort

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A Wii Sports Resort game and Wii remote. Andrew Morrison has Air Sports as the best of the bunch of different sports in the game.  Photo courtesy of Baron Valium via Flickr

A Wii Sports Resort game and Wii remote. Andrew Morrison has Air Sports as the best of the bunch of different sports in the game. Photo courtesy of Baron Valium via Flickr

Almost exactly one year ago, I published perhaps the most controversial column I’ve ever composed: Ranking the sports of Wii Sports. If you’re wondering, my thoughts haven’t changed — tennis is still the best, boxing remains horrendous. 

One year later, I’ve decided to attempt an even more ambitious feat: To rank the sports of Wii Sports Resort. Since there are a whopping 12 different sports, and people probably aren’t interested in a 3000-word column about a video game from 2009, I’ll try to keep it brief. I’ll also be excluding golf and bowling, given that they were also included in Wii Sports. So without further ado, here’s the definitive ranking, from worst to best: 

10. Frisbee 

I’m convinced the only reason Frisbee is even in the game is so Nintendo could advertise a full dozen sports, because no one could possibly be interested in standing still and throwing a virtual Frisbee over and over again. The Frisbee dog game was enjoyable only because there was a cute dog in it, and if you want to do an 18-hole golf course, just do the regular golf minigame. If Frisbee was never included in the game, it would lose absolutely nothing besides an adorable puppy. Just, like, find a dog in real life. 

9. Canoeing 

Canoeing is fun in kind of an infuriatingly frustrating way, but it’s easily the worst water sport in the game. If you play alone, you’re suddenly aware of your complete and utter loneliness, paddling along in a virtual canoe. If you play with friends, you can all pack into a single canoe and are forced to work cooperatively. Sometimes yelling at friends is fun, but canoeing is definitely capable of tearing friend groups apart. Avoid at all costs.  

8. Basketball 

Much like baseball in Wii Sports, I really wanted basketball to be good. Unfortunately, it’s really not. Basketball is a tough game to code — I mean, 2K still struggles with basic mechanics in 2020 — and the result is a clunky, unrealistic experience. Imagine NBA Jam, but 15 years later and less enjoyable. The 3-point contest is better than the pickup games, but the shot timing is awkward and unresponsive at times. I admire the attempt, but the end result is disappointing. 

7. Archery 

The best part about archery is the innovative way in which you use both the Wii remote and the nunchuk, pulling the nunchuk back like the string on a bow. It’s obviously one of the slower-paced games, but I appreciate how it rewards patience and precision.  

6. Power cruising 

Essentially wakeboarding but worse. Racing against the clock adds a sense of thrill, and the wave physics are impressive. But it’s not particularly memorable or replayable, and the speed boost system doesn’t really make sense. It’s okay. 

5. Table tennis 

Maybe you expected this a little higher on the list given tennis’s No. 1 ranking last time, but a big reason why that topped my ranking was net play and volleying, and unfortunately ping pong by nature has nothing of the sort. With that said, the core mechanics are the same, and I enjoy the attention paid to spin and timing.  

4. Swordplay 

Swordplay Duel is basically everything boxing should have been in Wii Sports. It’s far more responsive and just as much of a workout, plus the added bonus of making your opponent plummet off the platform into the water below. The Showdown mode makes you feel like Batman, pummeling crowds of attacking Miis. I’d say all of the top four here are very solid, but swordplay just barely misses the top three. 

3. Cycling 

This one might be a little controversial, but I absolutely loved the cycling game. For one, it was easily the most exhausting of all the games, rapidly swinging the remote and nunchuk, and I mean, Wii Sports is meant to be somewhat healthy, isn’t it? The course was excellent, full of different types of terrain and inclines, while also displaying the scenery of Wuhu Island. It has the same competitive racing feel of MarioKart, with the added satisfaction of burning calories in the process.  

2. Wakeboarding 

Wakeboarding might have the most simplistic controls in the game, but it’s wildly addictive. Landing insanely high jumps and pulling off about seven flips mid-air was super rewarding. As you moved to higher difficulties, the obstacles added an extra challenge, and the graphics — surfing on orange-tinted waves in front of an Instagram-worthy sunset — were actually pretty impressive for a 2009 Wii game. Maybe it’s just that I wish I was that talented at wakeboarding in real life, but I put way too much time into this one. 

 1. Air sports 

Besides the bottom few, every sport is fairly entertaining, but really there’s no competition for the top spot. Skydiving is a perfect introduction to the game and the Dogfight mode is a cool two-player experience, but the Island Flyover mode is by far where I spent the most time of any game in Wii Sports Resort. There are 80 information points to find, and I probably spent hours trying to track down every one. It was a relaxing change of pace while still having an element of achievement and depth. While I do wish the plane was a bit faster, this was the mode where you felt most immersed in the island and could really appreciate the scope and attention to detail that went into it. Remove every other sport, and I would still pay full price for solely the air sports modes. It’s one of the most memorable gaming experiences I had on the Wii, and easily the best Wii Sports Resort has to offer.  


Andrew Morrison is the sports editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at andrew.morrison@uconn.edu. He tweets @asmor24.

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