Preview: Deca Sports Hands-On

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Like Wii Sports? Chances are you’re going to enjoy Hudson’s Deca Sports too, which ships next week exclusively for the Wii. Here’s a quick preview of what to expect.

The demo I’ve been playing features single-player Open Match modes in four of the game’s 10 total sports events, including Supercross, Beach Volleyball, Badminton and Figure Skating, so let me break each one down for you.

I don’t need to waste much time telling you about Supercross, because unfortunately it’s not very good. Actually, it’s downright awful. Sorry to be so harsh, but it really is just that bad. The driving physics are lousy – the bikes slip and float like they’re on ice – and the tilt-based steering controls are overly sensitive. So yeah, not exactly that enticing.

Fortunately the other three sports fare MUCH better. Badminton is basically the go-to game of the bunch. Like the Wii Sports tennis game, all character movement is handled automatically (which I’ll never be a fan of, but I can deal with it) and you simply swing the Wii Remote to swat the shuttlecock over the net at the other player. Soft swings of the remote lightly float the shuttle over the net, harder swings launch the shuttle in a rainbow shot high in the air, and stiff downward strikes when the shuttle is at its highest point (it glows red to indicate this) spike it for the score. And of course, the direction you angle the remote during gestures also influences the direction of the shot. It works really well and is highly entertaining.

Beach Volleyball is similar in control style to Badminton, with a few slight variations. All actions are performed by either swing up or down with the remote, with no real bearing on gesture force. Quick flips upward perform sets, bumps and blocks, while downward swings spike the ball when it’s at its highest flight (same glowing red indicator as Badminton). Serving combines the two, as you swing up to toss the ball then swing down to launch it over the net. Character movement, again, is automatic, but compared to Badminton it seems like more of a noticeable weakness since volleyball has a quicker pace to it. But all told it’s a reasonably fun time.

Figure Skating is the real shocker, though. I’m not a fan of real figure skating whatsoever, but Deca Sports somehow makes it incredibly enjoyable. Of the four sports in the demo, Figure Skating is the only one that utilizes the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Three routines are provided, each with a different song and difficulty level, with the goal to skate each routine and earn a higher score than the other competitors. The game actually plays out like a rhythm game. Yellow dots on the ice indicate the routine’s path, with larger dots in either red, green or blue colors indicating when it’s time to perform various tricks. Using the Nunchuk’s analog stick, you guide your skater around the ice along the path of yellow dots and flip up with the remote as you pass through the center of one of the other colored circles. If your gesture timing is off, your skater will fall and bust their butt on the ice.

The rhythm game twist to it is that you must keep up with the background music (a timeline bar at the top of the screen shows where you are in relation to the music). If you begin to lag behind, the colored trick circles shrink and the smaller launch window makes it more difficult to perform tricks properly. Unbelievable as it may sound, Figure Skating is my favorite sport of the four and a real selling point for the full game.

So basically, here’s how the demo version breaks down. Two of the sports are excellent (Figure Skating and Badminton), one is more middle-of-the-road (Beach Volleyball), and one is a real stinker (Supercross). That’s a respectable ratio of good to bad for what is basically a mini-game compilation. If that ratio holds true with the remaining six sports – which seems likely considering some of the other sports are Archery, Soccer and Basketball – Deca Sports is sure to deliver hours of Wiimote-wagglin’ athletic fun for the whole family.

Check out these trailers for more.

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!