Wii got another sports game
There are enough sports compilation games out there for the Wii, in fact one could say the sheer numbers of them rival the GameCubes lifetime library. Tons of games that deliver a sub par experience and are hampered with control issues- a shame really considering the Wii is built on hassle free controls. Today I’m going to take a closer look at a title that at may be a departure from your average third party offering- Decca sports 2.
You see analyzing sport compilation games, especially on the Wii is a hard pill to swallow. You have to keep telling yourself that this title might be decent enough to play but your experience tells you that the majority of times you will be stuck with an utter travesty of a game.
I’ll get right to the point, Decca Sports 2 is not that bad. In fact I would say it worth a shot and is a breath of fresh air in the stench of Wii Sport knock offs. What makes this title stand out are three simple things.
Firstly you have a game which has much better production values and almost seems like a homage to a sports channel. It is by no mean excellent but has enough of a design aesthetic to really carve an identity for itself.
Secondly the title houses 10 unique sporting events that have a couple of variations thrown into the mix and lastly this would be the first sports compilation game out there to be online (not all of the 10 games are playable online by the way). But is that all this title has going for it?
I won’t meticulously go over each of the ten sports and their gameplay controls but I will highlight all ten sports and talk in depth about what works and what doesn’t. You have: hockey, dodgeball, darts, tennis, speed skating, Motorbike road racing, synchronized swimming, mogul skiing, kendo, and the odd game of petanque.
That is a lot of sport games and then you realize that the first game had just about the same number. Granted they were different sports but I wonder if they could have fit all the games from the first one, it wouldn’t be that hard either, overall the sporting events are an interesting bunch and some of which have never appeared on the Wii.
Control wise you will need just your Wiimote and nunchuck. The nunchuck makes uses of sports like dodgeball, hockey, speed skating, and mogul skiing. The rest ask you to use the Wiimote as is. Sadly there is no motion plus support here so if you were blown away by Tiger Woods and Grand Slam tennis then prepare to go back in time where true 1 to 1 motion did not exist.
Expanding on controls you will realize that they are very simple and for the most part understandably so. Road racing utilize the Wiimote held sideways, hockey has you shaking the Wiimote and using the directional stick for a pass, darts have the IR sensor point a cross hair at the board while you throw, and synchronized swimming has you shaking the Wiimote as if it is a rhythm game. Aside from speed skating and mogul skiing- which have you using the Wiimote and nunchuck to be shaken alternatively to get more speed thus straining your arms- the rest of the games have sensible control mechanics behind them. One gripe I had is how they handled Kendo which uses the Wiimote on its side and utilizes the D pad for movement, it just feels very constraint and clunky.
What works here are games like Hockey, Tennis, dodgeball, darts, and motorbike road racing. The simple reason why these sports work is how the core gameplay is utilized. Good controls and design lead to a game that you wouldn’t mind playing with your friends and even competing in single player leagues. They are simple enough but also have enough depth to be mastered.
The online part is a bit misleading, you see not all of the ten sports make it online. You can only play dodgeball, hockey and tennis online. There are active leader boards and it won’t take you long to rise through the ranks considering it is based on how many skill points you nab, each win you receive skill points and every loss they are taken away from you. Single player is broken up into four sections – open play, league, tournament, and challenges. League play has you facing off against other AI leagues across all ten sports and does open up its options to national and global. Tournament on the other hand has you climbing the ladders for one particular sport. And then there are the challenges which take a particular aspect of one sport and create an event of it. A good example is hockey and taking out the goalie so it’s all about the shots or syncronized swimming and trying to perfect your rhythmic timing as you do breast strokes. The controls stay the same during these challenges but the gameplay may differ slightly.
There are no real incentives to doing the challenges or league modes aside from skill points and much needed practice. I hate to draw direct comparisons to Wii Sports but that title did set the bar. You don’t get to see a graphed approach of you skills nor are you treated to a medal collection that acknowledges you pro status. I just wanted something to compete for, something that would expand the blueprint laid out by Wii Sports. I loved playing Wii Sports alone and that is not something I can say for Deca Sports 2. Leader boards are a good start but there needs to be much more. Unlockable content would have created that motivational factor as well.
Hockey and tennis were extremely fun to play, both these titles had a tad bit of a learning curve (about 5 minutes of a curve) but once you got the hang of it these games wielded the most fun. Tennis had a huge emphasis of tossing and then timing your connection when serving. By allowing forward and backward movement at the sacrifice of not being able to track the ball you are thrown into a game of risk taking. Hockey on the other hand was the most arcady fun sport on the disc. Try scoring 7 goals in 20 seconds fun. Seriously reminded me of Wayne Gretzky 3D hockey. Sure it won’t stack up to NHL 2k10 on the Wii but it beats the hell out of their arcade pond hockey mode. Shooting thankfully was allocated to a button press first which makes passing then shooting a sublime experience.
Both tennis and hockey are not to be missed if you get a chance to play Deca Sports 2.
The game has its own look and feel but you can’t help but wonder if Nintendo refused them the right to use the Mii images in the first place. Sure you can create your own team as I did(Snake, Vegetta, Reiko, Taki and Jill from RE) but the title begs for Mii integration more than anything. Its stylistic (simple and clean) approach is akin to Wii sports but instead your avatars have fully connected arms and legs. You would be mistaken to think its visual fidelity is better than a two year old sports game; reality is that Wii Sports looks much better than this. Granted Deca veers into territory that the former has not – with indoor arenas, race tracks, and an ice rink- and it does an impressive job at creating a lively environment filled with clever replay snippets and all but in the end it still falls a bit short visually. What hurts this title even more is the fact that most of the character animations are stiff and choppy. It is a sad realization to see some of these character move around like it were the early years of the N64. Sure sports like Tennis, Hockey, and Motorbike road racing are decent enough; the rest however fall miserably short and pull you out of immersion. On a cool note Adidas is a sponsor and you’ll be glad to see their brand of striped sports gear.
There are nice subtle effects like blur and some particle magic on the slopes but nothing to go crazy about.
Sound is fairly well done with a great intro and menu theme that might just get stuck in your head. Each sport often carries its own music and for the most part they sound like hybrid techno mixes. It strangely does a great job of keeping the intense competitive feel. There is no voice acting and the lack of an announcer does really hurts.
The characters for the most part are mute and don’t even have any authentic reaction sounds.
It is a standard job that could have been something much more.
Well there is very little incentive to play this one alone. With no progress charting or different achievement style trophies to unlock your pretty much left just beating the computer AI- which has multiple difficulties thankfully. I do like the fact that there are multiple environments for a couple of the sports and the teams aspect adds to the competitive feel. I love the multiplayer as these games are meant to be played with people. Crack this open in a party and you will surly love darts and pentaque while titles like tennis and hockey may take a bit of practice but can yield the most fun multiplayer experiences. The online system is a small let down by not having all sports playable but once you see how intuitive and simple it is to get online you will begin to see the workings of what I assume will be a stellar system in Deca Sports 3. I mean you have the friend codes still but now you have the option to join various rooms and play either quick or custom matches which is a big accomplishment for the Wii. Online play was smooth and refreshingly fast paced. Of our sessions we once came across a bit of slow down while playing dodgeball. Hockey ran smoothly and so did Tennis. Heck I competed against Hudson Entertainment (for the record hockey was a tie, dodgeball I won as well as tennis- cuz andPOP got real gamers!). It may be hard during some times of the day to play anyone online but blame the lack of people connected. With the exception of Brawl and Tiger Woods every online game on the Wii has atrocious wait times.
Replay in the end will be measured by how much you play this game with your friends and online, this is not meant to be played by yourself.
Look at it this way, this title can be found for under 35 bucks, has ten sports games and utilizes simple controls that are essential for multiplayer. Its versions of hockey and tennis are actually deeper and dare I say evolutionary in some respects. I will actually say that playing hockey reminded me of the good old days of Gretzky 3D hockey- and that’s a big complement- nowhere else could you score 2 goals with7 seconds left on the clock except here and Gretzky!
Deca Sports 2 even houses an interesting take on Tennis with a deeper emphasis on serving. This title for its price point and value is worth a look. It may even be good enough for your kid sibling. It’s no Wii Sports but Deca Sports 2 is probably as close as any developer has gotten so far.
Of all the 3rd party sports compilations this stands heads and shoulders above the rest but just below Wii Sports.