Just over a year and a few months ago, the Wii’s launch introduced millions of gamers and non-gamers alike to virtual entertainment that required you to move more than just your fingers to play. Bundled along with Nintendo’s new hardware was Wii Sports, which showcased new, intuitive gameplay mechanics. Although the game is straight forward and simple, its popularity is nearly unrivaled on Nintendo’s format. Thus, what better way to capture an audience than emulate such success: Enter Hudson Soft’s Deca Sports.
We’ve had the opportunity to sit down and play a shortened, demo version of the Wii Sports wannabe to give you a little glimpse at what this casual-friendly title has in store for this summer.
While the full release will be shipped with 10 different sports to play, the preview build we have on hand is shortened to just four: Badminton, Beach Volleyball, Supercross and Figure Skating. Expect to find more than just sunny-weather sports as, along with Figure Skating, the full game will also include Curling and Snowboarding; other than that, you’ll find a mix of other sports which don’t require ice, including: Archery, Basketball, Soccer and Go-Karting events.
For the purposes of this preview we were only given the opportunity to play each individual sport separately, but there will be a Tournament mode included in the full release. Before starting any of the events, you must first choose a team which can specialize in either speed or power. We had a choice between four of the eight different teams, being all-male, all-female or co-ed. Surprisingly, from what we saw, there didn’t seem to be much of a difference if you chose a power team for Supercross, or a speed team for Badminton; you’ll be able to compete in any event fairly competently no matter which squad you choose.
Each of the four events we had time with used the Wii-mote’s waggle and motion-sensing functionalities. First up were Beach Volleyball and Badminton, which both have similar control schemes. To serve either the birdie or ball, hit or bump the object, and make big slams, all require little more than a simple flick of the wrist. Timing shots just right, as they float to your offensive side, allows you to jump in the air for a powerful strike in both sports.
This early build still had a few bugs in it however, as hit detection wasn’t all there. During matches on the beach, bumps and digs didn’t really match up with the location of the ball. Also, much like in Wii Sports Tennis, your characters are controlled by the computer as they run around the court. Unfortunately, the AI didn’t quite comprehend where the optimal place to be was as we fell just short of returning both ball and birdie.
Things felt much tighter as we made our way into the dirt of the Supercross tracks. Unlike Wii Play’s unresponsive motion-steering, piloting on-screen dirt bikes match up well to the tilting of the Wii-mote. Three different difficulty settings determine the kind of track you race on, with more, tighter turns the harder you go. Also, after hitting jumps, it’s possible to add a little flare by flicking the mote for different tricks.
The final event, Figure Skating, was the most surprising of the pack. What you might imagine to be a fairly uninteresting event, turns out to one of the most engaging. Using both the nunchuck and Wii-mote, you steer your character around the ice with the joystick to one of three different programs, composed of nine varying tricks. To execute spins, jumps and combos, you have to follow a trail to nine colorful circles and time your wrist movement just right as you pass through the center of the shrinking marker.
Between the four events, only Badminton limited multiplayer players to two, while the rest allowed for up to four to play. Also, each sport allows for varying options of CPU difficulty and other match-specific rules.
Deca Sports is scheduled for a May 13 launch, just in time for summer, so expect a full review in the coming weeks.