Motorsport is a big part of Go Vacation, much to my excitement, and it’s found in the form of “Motor Fest” in the City Resort. This one mini-game manages to include not only street races through the resort, but also motorbike racing, checkpoint races, and open-wheel oval racing in a huge stadium. All the motorsport games are controlled with the Wii Wheel setup, using motion to turn – no nunchuck – and much to my relief it feels very smooth, a bit like Mario Kart Wii but faster. The car handling isn’t realistic, but they do wiggle about a bit if you tackle a corner too fast, and you need to lift off the throttle a fair bit, with braking only required on the sharp corners. It’s not exactly Race Pro, but it’s just challenging enough to be satisfying. It’s more comparable to Ridge Racer, which is no surprise when you find out the Ridge Racer development team actually helped work on Go Vacation.
This mode is called Number Chaser, and it blew my mind when I first picked it. I expected a normal racetrack with checkpoints, and the game gave me a huge open area to explore. The entire city becomes the track in this mode, and you get the option of choosing from multiple checkpoints to aim for, effectively creating your own race track while aiming for the shortest route. There’s no people walking around the city; the second you hop in your car everyone goes indoors and every sign of life disappears. Must be the noise? While it’s still a lifeless race, there’s a lot of options to explore in your driving and even some jumps appear that let you skip over bits of track to get to the next checkpoint faster.
Street Racing is the standard racing mode that takes place over 3 laps and features an impressive TEN tracks. Yes TEN! That’s three Ridge Racer Vita’s. They aren’t bog standard tracks either: while they all take place in the City Resort, they each have their own unique corners, elevation changes and even a few jumps in the later tracks. You can drive exotic cars, sports cars or standard compact road cars in this mode, but they all feel pretty similar. The difficulty is the big disappointment here: your opponents are pretty much done for by lap 2, they don’t seem to understand the concept of corners, and even their top speed seems lower than yours. On top of this, there’s a boost button that your opponents don’t have access to; it feels like I’m cheating when I use it. It’s something even Michael Schumacher would feel guilty about. Multiplayer is quite clearly the key to getting the most out of this mode, and most games in Go Vacation, actually. At least it records all your fastest times so you can still challenge yourself, and some of the tracks are interesting enough to improve your times on.
Motorbike racing adds a few new things into the mix, with a checkpoint mode that has multiple opponents all riding around the city. There’s also a slalom mode where you have to ride between gates. The bike handling is noticeably different to the cars, turning is fast and much more responsive, and you can wheelie in a straight line to gain speed, once again like Mario Kart Wii. No Funky Kong here, but I hear putting shades on your Mii gives you a top speed boost.
Oval Racing adds the ability to slipstream other cars in front of you to go faster, it’s got a great sense of speed too. The handling of the open wheel cars is very twitchy and it’s easy to lose control, but this is how oval racing cars are supposed to handle and it’s the only thing that makes it challenging. This mode is still incredibly easy and you can lap the field even in 5 laps. On top of slipstream giving you a huge advantage, this mode also retains the boost button from street racing, making it ridiculously easy to drive straight by all the AI drivers in a single lap, something only Will Power could do in a real race. Still, the fact that this mode even exists is impressive to me – I had my fun with it.
Outside the Motor Fest mini-game, there’s still more racing to be had. There’s an Off-Road mini-game in the Mountain Resort, and the rally mode here is probably the best racing in the game. It’s the same as street racing, except with more bumps and better scenery in TEN new tracks, with a few of them being straight line traditional rally courses. We’ve surpassed Kart Racer in terms of content now, and we’re up to seven Ridge Racer Vita’s. Oh dear, pointless comparisons – now I’m a paid gaming journalist, time for a shower.
Skateboarding, Jet Skis, Snowboards, ATVs, Kayaking – pretty much every mode of transport in Go Vacation has some kind of racing mode. I’m not going to run through all of them – I’ve already written more than the traditional gaming media have about the entire experience on KaWaWii island (and more to come). It’s mostly standard races or checkpoints. It’s a big theme of Go Vacation; some of the streets in the Mountain Resort are even named after the great rally legend Colin Mcrae.
Even on its own, the Motor Fest would make a good budget racing game. It’s not going to set the world on fire and redefine racing games – every part of it is extremely basic, but I do think Go Vacation raises the standard in videogames by providing an unprecedented amount of variety. What’s important is the controls are good and even if you’re not a racing nut like I am, it still provides an hour or two of gameplay simply clearing the modes to check the boxes and see all the tracks. Everyone needs a bit of excitement on their vacation, put down the camera and throw away the sun lotion, it’s time to tear up the track!