Go Vacation (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 26.07.2018

Review for Go Vacation on Nintendo Switch

Family sports games have taken a slight backseat after the massive success of the Wii era. Plastic tennis rackets are collecting dust and families are collectively glued to mobile phones in close proximity. The Nintendo Switch serves up multiple ways to play, and with two motion-controlled pads out of the box, could there be a family party game resurgence? Go Vacation is the latest contender to bring family fun to the living room; a revamped experience from the Wii era.

After a beachside snooze, the best part of any holiday resort has to be the wealth of activities. Whether it's chopping waves on a jet-ski or pelting sand in an intense game of volleyball, it's what holidays are made for. Developed by Bandai Namco, Go Vacation welcomes holiday-goers to the amusingly titled Kawawii Island; a mythical land that's divided up into four distinct areas: water, city, snow, and mountain.

The initial impression is that this could well be a handful of mini-games bundled together in a neat little package. However, Go Vacation aims to live up to its name by mapping out large areas to explore as part of the adventure. Touching down on Kawawii and the action begins in an instant. There's no unwinding or sipping on post-flight cocktails here, folks! The action starts with a tricky jet-ski race that's not quite Wave Race, but is a smooth cruise into the game's opening. From there, the difference becomes apparent - it's not a menu decked out with mini-games and sports, but four resorts that players can actually roam around. This mechanic expands and fleshes out the experience. It's engaging and can often burn away more time than the activities themselves. Players can dash across a cityscape with roller blades, take an adorable horse on a castle stroll, or even cut through thick snow on a snowmobile.

Screenshot for Go Vacation on Nintendo Switch

Whilst it may suggest a gimmicky experience, these exploration options do handle surprisingly well, and make Go Vacation feel like a holiday in itself. Hunt down things to do, and discover something quite unexpected. There is a tendency to dismiss party game anthologies as potential shovelware, but there's a depth here that adds a little context to the setup. That said, games can be found via the menu for quick access for those frantic multiplayer marathons, but the free-roaming route is ideal for one or two players. The only drawback - despite the open worlds - is the lack of human folk to interact with. The island isn't some post-apocalyptic haven, there are NPC characters, but most stand about - soulless - not saying a word. It's a strange decision, something that some snippets of dialogue could easily remedy.

From the hustle of the city to the tranquil mountain range, there's an area that's bound to resonate. The marine or beach segment is the most standard fare, and perhaps a neat transition into some of the less traditional activities. Race about on an ATV, or even dabble in a little water gun battle, surf to the finish or casually leap out of a plane, as you do. Craving something a little colder? The snow range, unlocked later, echoes those traditional winter games: lush ski slopes, tricked-filled jumps, snow-mobile races and mogul. Head up the mountain-top for tennis, horse riding and a dollop of kayaking. It's not all traditional, with a handful of not-quite-Olympic activities thrown in, like snowman making, snowball fights, and car racing!

Screenshot for Go Vacation on Nintendo Switch

Where the game starts to deviate from the standard formula is a trip to the city. Friends can roller-skate across rails, dabble in a little mini-golf, or even throw pies for good measure. It's quite the contrast, and is perhaps the more intriguing area; an odd blend of Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi, with a sprinkling of mini-games.

It all sounds like a blast; large, vibrant worlds to dig through and a whole range of activities. It's the perfect pitch from a travel agent. It all comes down to the mini-games themselves, though, and whether these are compelling enough to maintain interest. Is there enough multiplayer merit to sustain days in the sun? Does the snow resort serve up a frosty reception? This, unfortunately, is where issues start to show. The fine print on the trip itinerary. Most of the games do handle well - there's certainly a refinement from the Wii era. Gone is the need to excessively waggle that controller, TV screens are safe - for now. What Bandai Namco has done, though, is generally toned down the need to be a Wii Sports clone. That was over a decade ago, and the original Go Vacation was released in 2010. The majority of games use the analogue stick (if playing with complete controllers / a pair of Joy-Con), and these handle as would be expected. When using a sole Joy-Con, though, there are some bizarre choices with unresponsive motion controls. There's the assumption that single Joy-Con players may well benefit from a slice of motion, but it doesn't quite feel as intuitive as it could possibly be. Refined, but still not quite there when requiring motion.

Screenshot for Go Vacation on Nintendo Switch

The highlights of the vast number of mini-games would have to be anything that takes on a racing angle. It's simple; there's a competitive element and something all players can take on from the offset. Whether it's ATV racing on the beach, or treating a puppy to a little dog sledding, this is likely where most of the replayability will come. Others include a simplified take on tennis, table hockey. and the thoroughly enjoyable skate trick session against a city backdrop. Amongst the roster are some odd choices - like the dire glass harp, or the tedious skydiving session. Some are a challenge due to fiddly controls, others causing an extended play due to a decision to make players take it in turns. Oddly, it's only a case for some of the activities, and not others.

Go Vacation also includes support for Mii characters, with an array of different outfits to match the occasion. Want something a little bit more preset? A small number of generic skins are also included, for those who crave a little anonymity on their travels. Bandai Namco has also thrown in a photograph button to snap images of wildlife, or strange NPC behaviour - if you wish. Want to deck out your in-game space? There's also the option of decorating the holiday home with tasty bits of décor. It's a neat extra that again helps solidify the holiday element, and inject some replayability - not an essential feature by any means, but a good extra.

Visually, this still shows signs of its Wii routes - it's choppy in places, and does show signs of wear and tear. Think of it is as a hotel that's stood the test of time; a summer-stay that's you have continually come back to year after year. The owners have sprinkled on a lick of paint and made the sign a little less wonky. That said, much like that hotel, there is a distinctive charm about the experience.

Screenshot for Go Vacation on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Go Vacation is a medley of summer activities - whether it's tearing up the sand in an ATV or trying to get a horse to ascend a castle and desperately leap over a river, because you can. Rather than a small number of traditional activities, Bandai Namco has gone all-inclusive with four resorts to explore - on foot, by train, on a skateboard, or even on a jet-ski. There's a surprisingly vast amount of content to discover and unlock in what many may assume could have been a shallow selection. It's a refined package that, whilst still harks back to the Wii era, feels more in-line with the Nintendo Switch offering for the most part. There are some odd control decisions for solo Joy-Con users, and some odd mini-games in the pot, but Go Vacation is a solid destination to visit - whether on a solo trip or having a bunch of friends tag along for the journey.

Developer

Bandai Namco

Publisher

Bandai Namco

Genre

Party

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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