It's impossible to overstate just how much impact Wii Sports has had on the sports game genre, specifically as it relates to the Wii. Very few people would have believed that such a simple collection of games would spawn a worldwide craze, let alone shape a whole generation of games. However, if Nintendo has taught us anything, it's that people love to pretend the Wiimote is a bowling ball, tennis racket or golf club. With this knowledge in hand, Hudson is attempting to expand the genre a bit more with Deca Sports, a collection of 10 simple, easy-to-play minigames that will likely get the whole family up off the couch for another round of athletic fun.
Deca Sports, as the name implies, is a collection of 10 different sporting events (Archery, Badminton, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Curling, Figure Skating, Kart Racing, Snowboarding, Soccer and Supercross), all combined under one banner. The games are very simple to pick up and play, and each of them utilizes the Wiimote in fun and appropriate ways. For example, when playing basketball, you have to yank the controller straight up in the air to jump for a shot, and then flick it forward at the right moment in order to score a basket. The timing takes a little getting used to, but once you've got it down, it feels just right. Other events, like kart racing, require you to tilt the Wiimote to steer, while archery asks you to pull the controller back as if you're drawing an arrow on a bowstring. It just goes to show once more, that there is so much that can be done with the Wii's control scheme when it's placed in capable hands.
A large variety of game modes are offered, including Open Match, single sport Tournament, Deca Sports League and the granddaddy of them all, the Deca Challenge. Once you've chosen your game mode and sport, you must choose one of eight teams to represent you. The teams are composed of small, medium and large characters, and each class is best suited for specific events. Small competitors are quick and agile, yet not very powerful, so they are best suited to the pure speed events. Large characters are strong but slow and are best utilized for the strength challenges. Medium characters offer a combination, being capable at everything but excelling at nothing, so they are the choice for events that require a careful balance of speed and power. Of course, the only downside to these preconceived teams is that there is no room for using your Miis, and it remains to be seen if Hudson will make a late decision to allow players to create their own teams based on their homemade avatars.
Much as the gameplay itself is molded on Wii Sports, so too are the graphics and sound. If you weren't playing close attention, they look and sound so much alike that you may just assume that this is a sequel. However, they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the developers have made no bones about the fact that they are actively pursing the Wii Sports demographic.
After some hands-on time with the early build, it is safe to assume that Deca Sports will be a fine addition to the Wii's library of casual, family-oriented games. The title's simplicity and quick pace will make it a fun family affair for a rainy day or some late-night fun. Hudson does face a challenge in rising above the Wii's flooded market, and drawing attention may be tough next to all of the shovelware titles that promise similar experiences. Accept no substitutes, though, as Deca Sports looks like it may just be the real thing. Keep an eye out for it this summer.