World Championship Games - NDS - Preview
Summer Olympics and other track and field-themed games have left a bad taste in most gamers’ mouths. It seems that every four years a new track and field game emerges, we get excited, and end up being more disappointed than we were the last time. That compounding experience has severely reduced the expectations for these kinds of games, which haven’t been fun since the 90s.
World Championship Games, a new mini-game collection for Nintendo DS, may be the game that breaks the disappointing cycle. It’s not attached to an Olympic license (or any other for that matter), which means it can only rely on gameplay to sell the product – the name on the box won’t be enough. That forced the developers to think about what a game needs to be fun, the results of which are pleasantly surprising.
Run track, shoot targets, pole-vault, jump long, jump hurdles, throw objects (such as a discus) and compete in a handful of other sporting events. There are tournaments that combine various events and a decathlon that combines another set. More interesting than the event presentation is how the games actually play. Running track, for example, lets you place both thumbs on the touch screen and jam on several foot icons as they scroll by. Yes, it was likely born from the Guitar Hero style of gaming where timing is everything (or merely followed in the footsteps of the dozens of other games that have mirrored GH), but it plays very well. You won’t be able to keep your eyes on both screens (the top shows the race in 3D; the bottom shows your feet) at the same time without going a little cross-eyed, but that isn’t necessary…unless you’re hurdling. Then you might want to go cross-eyed or grow a third eye. Whichever is easiest.
Since your thumbs are busy controlling the speed of your runner, the L and R buttons are used for jumping. When competing in the discus and shot put events, you’ll be too distracted by the touch screen (scratching left and right or drawing circles) to worry about any of the face buttons. To launch the object you wish to throw, tap one of the shoulder buttons, which activates the various power/angle meters – a line will scroll by; make sure it’s as close to the center as possible – press the shoulder button when lined up and you’re done. Long jumps and pole-vaulting mechanics are very similar. For archery, you’ll use the stylus to aim from afar, hold a shoulder button to pull the camera forward, and release it to fire the arrow.
Most of the mini-games don’t take more than a couple minutes to get through. The shortest sprint takes less than 30 seconds to complete, thus making this a pick-up-and-play, drop-it-when-you-must kind of game.
World-Class Multiplayer Options
Don’t you hate it when a game forces you to have at least two game cards to experience the multiplayer options? World Championship Games took a different route, offering the player four different options: single-card, multi-card, WFC and single DS. The latter isn’t true multiplayer since you have to take turns, but it’ll work in a pinch. Single-card play gives the card holder and his friends access to four of the events (a limitation all single-card multiplayer options have). But that’s a decent taste that will let gamers know if they should pick up a copy of their own. And if they do, they’ll be able to play all of the events with anyone else who has the game.
Right now, this doesn’t appear a sports game that’ll get you through a long car trip. But if you love simple and addictive, touch-based mini-games, World Championship Games should be worth examining upon its March release. Stay with GameZone for more on this title in the coming weeks.