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Sean Pettibone


Deca Sports (Wii) 

Featuring ten entertaining games, Hudson's Deca Sports for the Wii goes beyond the usual mini-game collections to give players a great value for their money. With a range of accessible and easy to play sports ranging from soccer to badminton to more obscure and somewhat odd events like curling and archery, Deca Sports provides plenty of variety in terms of style of play. Each game in the package has intuitive, easy-to-understand controls that make the game easy accessible for players of all abilities. Single player modes are fun, but Deca Sports really shines when playing against friends, where the social element really takes off making for a title that should appeal to a broad audience of players.
When Deca Sports loads up, players a greeted by an upbeat song encouraging them to 'move their body' as an array of sports themed games unfold on the menu. It's not your typical sports title and has more in common with Nintendo's Wii Sports than Madden, though it does feature a couple of traditional team sports. Ten events are available in all including Volleyball, Basketball, Snowboard Cross, Kart Racing, Figure Skating, Soccer, Archery, Curling, Supercross racing and Badminton. These events are well rounded and offer a full game experience, not a cheap mini-game which makes each event satisfying in their own way. As you begin the game, you can select from a number of different teams, each of which has their pluses and minuses. When you've selected your character, you can then compete in a number of events, either in tournament mode against other players or you can challenge each event individually. As an added bonus, each event has a special mode called Deca Challenge where you can earn a trophy by completing a mini-game. These trophies can then be viewed in your team's locker room, which is a cool feature that adds some replay value to the game.

Eschewing many of the hardcore features that make many modern sports games so intimidating to newcomers, Deca Sports takes the essence of each and allows gamers to play a variety of sports without learning an array of complicated controls. This allows you to jump right into something like the Kart Racing game without much effort, you steer by moving the wii-mote from side to side and need to avoid obstacles, perform massive jumps and steer through the mud to overtake your opponents. This approach also extends to the game's Supercross bike racing mode, which features similar controls but more complex courses. When you're driving on these courses, you steer as you do in other games, but can tilt the controller back and forth to slide your bike into position and perform special moves by shaking the controller around. The snowboarding game follows the same basic formula as Supercross, but players adjust their rider's speed and position by moving the wii-mote and try to make better time by flowing with the course. Your opponents are aggressive, but you can earn extra points by performing special moves when you hit jumps and gain speed by crouching down, slowing around the corners. It's a fun little game with some surprisingly difficult tracks and corners, so you need to be careful when you play not to get too casual about things.

What's really remarkable is just how polished and well-thought out the controls and interface for each game in Deca Sports is. For example, in the basketball game, players need only to swing the remote down to jump and time their shot by pressing up to score a basket, which makes for a major change from traditional sports interface design. Another example is the soccer game, which takes a five-on-five form with indoor fields for much faster play. This extends to controls where you move the players with the nunchuck and shoot by swinging the remote. It's fun to play and there are no complex formations to memorize here. It simple and fun, though you can pass and perform some special moves here and there, this is a fast-paced party soccer game where the action comes before realism. It's not going to challenge FIFA, but it's loads of fun, and much simpler which means it should appeal to younger or less experienced players. Deca Sports also includes a fairly decent array of characters to choose from in the various sports, though you can't customize them like a Mii, they're still appealing.

So far, the games included on the disc will probably seem quite appealing, but there's still more to see. Deca Sports also includes an entertaining and challenging volleyball game where you can hit the ball at the opponent with a simple swing and spike with quick thrusts, making it easy to play and surprisingly challenging, though not surprisingly, the game is even better with friends. None of the games are particularly deep but this doesn't matter since this has obviously been designed from the ground up as a party game. Two of the more interesting events in the game are curling and archery. It's a bit of an obscure sport, but curling is surprisingly fun to play - think of it as shuffleboard on ice, with the player beginning by launching the ball which is then guided over the ice by controlling two sweepers who steer it towards a center ring where points are determined. It probably takes some time to get used to the rules, but it's lots of fun. Another enjoyable event is Archery, which requires a great deal of skill to hit the target while providing a fairly decent reflection of the bow mechanics, where you have to pull up the remote and hold the trigger button, aim your shot and release. It's surprisingly tricky to do this successfully but makes the challenging game fun to play. One of the more interesting games is Ice Skating, where you have to guide your skater though a series of indicators and perform special moves and techniques when you get to special points on the course. It's not as easy as it sounds, and the interface is a bit clunky, making this one of the less enjoyable titles on the disc.

Deca Sports succeeds more than it doesn't, and its Mii-like characters are cute and the atmosphere is light enough to make this instantly enjoyable. With ten entertaining games in all and a bargain price, Deca Sports provides a great deal of value for gamers, and its accessible controls make it fun for both casual and experienced players. This instantly appealing approach makes for a light and incredibly accessible experience. Deca Sports delivers a surprisingly enjoyable game that's loads of fun to play and should keep you occupied and entertained for many hours, making it a highly recommended addition to your Wii party game library.

- Michael Palisano

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Grade: B