Everybody who owns
a Wii has seen the looks of sheer joy on people’s faces when playing Wii
Sports. I’ve seen non-gamers first hand (my parents) waggle the Wii-Mote
bowling or hitting a homerun like they’ve played games their whole lives. Deca
Sports, to be released in May, is trying to capitalize on the success of Wii
Sports, offering roughly 10 different ways for players to waggle.
I went hands-on
with the game recently, and while my preview build only featured 4 of the
events, I got a good sense of what Deca Sports would be like when the other
events like basketball, snowboarding, and archery are finally released. The
games included badminton, beach volleyball, a motocross bike racer, and figure
skating. To begin with, Deca has mimicked nearly everything about Wii Sports,
from the techno-music, to its own version of cutesy Miis which populate the
selection of players and the audience. Being a copy-cat is okay, as long as
you’re gosh-darn good at it. In this case, while I like the music, the cartoon
characters look more like Lego characters with very rough textures and polygons.
The graphics overall looked like early PS2, but games like badminton and beach
volleyball featured good animation.
The controls in
badminton were actually pretty impressive and worked well. Contrasting from Wii
Tennis, the game is played from an isometric point of view. Players flip the
Wii-Mote to serve, and then to return shots, swing down at the angle you want to
it. I was most impressed by how it registered the angles and speed of the
swing. If you swung quickly left, it would go far left; swing easy right, and
it goes short right. Wii Tennis used timing to position the shots, but it
looks like Deca has done something better. Hitting a smash is about timing when
the feather ball glows red. The controls for beach volleyball are identical to
badminton, except for a few serving differences.
In the bike racer,
players control the bike by holding the Wii-Mote horizontally and tilting it.
The controls were very tight and quick – almost too much so. There were too
many A.I. characters racing against me that I just kept bumping into them (no
wrecking is allowed), which was frustrating. The full version will include a
kart-style racer, which hopefully will be more fun. Figure skating was not what
I expected – in a good way. Winter Sports featured a rhythm style figure
skating game which, while it did work, didn’t always feel immersive. Deca
Sports lets players actually control the skater with the Nunchuck analog and
follow a trail of glowing circles around the arena. When you come upon a big
circle you flip the Wii-Mote up, doing a trick. It was actually fun.
Like Wii Sports,
Deca Sports will be more fun with friends. While not exhibiting the same
quality of Wii Sports, Deca has more to do and there are more options to
customize. Time will tell (and so will the price tag) but Deca Sports could be
a fun game for Wii owners this summer.