By now if you own a PlayStation Move, chances are high that you also own a copy of Sports Champions. Zindagi Games‘ motion control sports activity pack easily took home the title as the Move’s top launch game, and to this day it remains one of best showcases of the controller’s technology (despite the somewhat annoying calibration process). It’s also still just plain fun to play.
Two years later, Sports Champions returns to defend its PlayStation Move championship title on October 30th, all buffed up to deliver another winning performance with a fresh selection of sporting events, new modes and features, and other upgrades.
In our latest Q&A, the team at Zindagi answers our burning questions about Sports Champions 2 as the final countdown toward launch ticks away. PlayStation Move gamers and Sports Champions fans, you’re going to want to check this out!
VGBlogger: With Sports Champions 2 now being Zindagi’s third PlayStation Move production, how have you seen the technology evolve since first beginning to create motion control PS3 games and do you still see potential that hasn’t been fully tapped into yet? What has the team learned about developing for the Move that has influenced improvements/new features in this particular game?
Zindagi Games: The first Sports Champions was a great local multiplayer experience. People standing side by side swinging PlayStation Move motion controllers in their living room and having a great time was a very common occurrence. So for Sports Champions 2 we wanted to take that atmosphere to the next level and added Party Play. Party Play encourages you to have friends over and get into quick and friendly competitions. We think that this part of the game will be the perfect way to play for friends and families.
Also, in Sports Champions, players had to do a 3 point calibration before every match. We wanted to make Sports Champions 2 as pick-up-and-play as possible so we’ve worked on making the sports fun while eliminating that extra calibration step and we’ve been able to do so without losing the one-to-one connection between the player’s actions with the controller and their actions in the game.
VGB: Sports Champions 2 is introducing new activities, including skiing, boxing, tennis, golf, and bowling. What selection process did the team go through to narrow down to these five sports and what general criteria were used to determine which sports to include over others?
Zindagi: There are a lot of factors that go into picking the sports. The most important of these is “How do my actions with the PlayStation Move motion controller translate to actions within the game.” We are always trying to get that one-to-one connection, so picking sports which support that is the most important factor. We also consider the popularity of each sport, and the appeal over different regions. We do all that, and then come up with a big list, gather feedback from all the parties involved which would be Zindagi Games and Sony San Diego Studios, and then basically just talk it out until we come up with what feels like the best list.
VGB: Can you reveal any sports that were considered but ultimately didn’t make the cut? I would love to have seen what you guys could do with stuff like football (quarterback challenge style throwing drills) and basketball (3-point shootout or some form of shooting competition).
Zindagi: We’ve basically considered every sport under the sun from Basketball to Soccer, to Curling. In the end, we went with our gut on what we thought was best for the game.
VGB: How will two-handed sports like skiing and boxing control for players who only have one Move controller?
Zindagi: When designing skiing, we wanted the game to be fun and accessible for all players, regardless of how many motion controllers they have. We spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to translate how skiing feels into one motion controller. Although using one controller may not be as immersive in skiing as with two controllers, it will still feel just as good and responsive as all the other sports. We think you will like it!
The trouble with boxing is that, unlike our other two-handed sports, it really is best played using two controllers. Since both arms are constantly in motion, often doing very different things, controlling two fists with two controllers just makes the most sense. So coming up with a one controller scheme was definitely a challenge. We wanted to still give players using one controller the ability to throw combos, mix up punches, and do everything else that a player with two controllers could do. To this end, we opted to have single-controller boxers control one arm using the PlayStation Move motion controller and the other arm with the face buttons of that controller. After a lot of experimenting, we found that this scheme was the easiest to get used to and also the most flexible, and we feel it does a good job at approximating the two handed experience.
VGB: Archery is the one sport returning from the original. Why did you decide to bring it back and not any of the others, and how, if at all, has archery been enhanced for the sequel?
Zindagi: It was a tough call. There were so many great games in the original Sports Champions, we could have brought back any of them. I think with Archery we felt that we could take the existing mechanic pretty much as is and create a whole new experience by making fun new target types and new game modes.
Our primary goal with archery this time around was to combine the competitive nature of the original Sports Champions game with the fast-paced, high-action style of Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest archery. The idea was to maintain the tried-and-true archery mechanics from those two games while really emphasizing and expanding on the arcade element of the gameplay. The result is a fun, exciting experience that anyone can pick up and play. We also wanted to continue to offer the player several different ways to play archery. This was a notable feature of the first Sports Champions and we made every effort to continue that tradition. Sports Champions 2 archery offers an even more expansive variety of match types and tests the player’s abilities with numerous different types of targets to shoot at.
VGB: Will Sports Champions 2 offer any additional online functionality beyond the original’s leaderboards, such as full online multiplayer, social networking ties, video sharing, etc?
Zindagi: While we don’t have online multiplayer, we will be supporting online leaderboards. We also have a cool new feature that we are calling the Victory Booth, where you can go into the main menu and pose with a number of augmented reality objects (like sharks, lollipops, tennis rackets, giant swords, etc.) and then post the pics onto Facebook at any time.
VGB: Does Sports Champions 2 provide expanded control options of any kind? Perhaps optional support for a Navigation controller (particularly for manual character movement in tennis) or greater support for multiple Move controllers at the same time across solo and multiplayer?
Zindagi: We really wanted to focus on delivering the best PlayStation Move centric gameplay experience. Supporting a Navigation controller was something that was discussed; but in the end we just wanted to give the player who only has a PlayStation Move motion controller the best possible experience, and not have to rely on them having a Navigation controller as well. All of the games are playable with just a single PlayStation Move motion controller; but if you have two, then you can play Boxing, Skiing, and Archery with an additional controller.
VGB: Deeper character customization is something a lot of fans wanted from the first game. How does the new avatar creation system work in Sports Champions 2 and how deep does it go? Will players be able to create a global avatar attached to their profile to take into every event like a Mii or Xbox 360 Avatar?
Zindagi: Even though this was our first entry to allow for character customization, we really wanted to give players as much control of their character as possible. Everything from the pattern on your shirt to the equipment you wear in sports is customizable. In fact, we allow players to customize an outfit for all six sports, if they choose. As you might guess, that means that the character you make for your profile is used globally throughout the game, even in the menu!
VGB: Will the game still have predefined characters to choose from if players don’t want to create avatars and if so, will we be seeing familiar faces from the first game or a new cast of athletes?
Zindagi:: Yes, there are predefined, prefabricated (we call them “prefabs”) characters that players can choose if they don’t want to take the time to create a personalized avatar. They were made from the same parts that are available to all players, so they won’t look out of place. As for the previous cast, they haven’t made an explicit return but they did serve as inspiration for some of the avatar components. Overall, it’s a new approach to characters with an added emphasis on player creation.
VGB: How about secret PlayStation mascot characters or costumes to unlock? Or is that something that will be held for DLC and/or pre-order bonuses?
Zindagi: For Sports Champions 2, we’ve focused on customizable avatars as well as our prefab avatars. We do not have any announcements to make regarding additional avatar options at this time, but we’re always looking for fan feedback.
VGB: Have the returning Cup Play, Free Play and Challenge modes evolved or expanded in any way or do the core modes function the same as before?
Zindagi: We have updated Cup Play a bit. Basically, we’ve gone for more of a streamlined experience so players have fewer, more meaningful matches to complete before they face-off against the sport’s unique boss character. For Free Play, we’ve made it easier to fully customize your game by making the options like match type, match length, etc. more accessible to the player so they don’t have to dig through lots of menus.
VGB: What does the new Party Play mode entail?
Zindagi: Sports Champions 2’s Party Play is a local multiplayer mode allowing 2-4 players to compete versus one another in a very casual and fun environment. It is designed to include several layers of depth, allowing a new player to get into the game very quickly while giving a more hardcore player the tools to fully customize the playlist of sports and the rules within each sport. Each player takes a picture and records their voice during character setup that is used to represent the user throughout the party. It’s all really fun and lighthearted. When a player wins a round, he can draw on the picture of one of the losing players. This is definitely the mode of play for when you have a group of friends over.
VGB: Have details surrounding Sports Champions 2’s launch been discussed or worked out yet, including things like simultaneous release on Blu-ray and PSN or potential retail/digital bundle offers with Move controllers and/or a complimentary copy of the first game?
Zindagi: Sports Champions 2 officially launches on both Blu-ray and PSN on October 30th!
VGB: Will a demo version be made available on PSN before or after release?
Zindagi: We have not yet made any announcements regarding a demo version of the game.