Between Nintendo’s Wii Sports pack-in, The Playstation Move’s Sports Champions, and the impending release of Kinect Sports, it seems that an athletically-oriented mini-game collection is essential to show off the capabilities of new motion-sensing hardware. In concept, it’s a wickedly clever concept. Not only are newcomers ushered into these games with body mechanics used by familiar recreations, but there’s also the indirect notion that all this arm flailing is compare to good old-fashioned, boring exercise.
Although recent release Sports Champions never got my heart racing like a succession of Wii Sports Boxing matches did, it also eliminated much of the sporadic inaccuracy and wild appendage thrashing associated with the diversion. Developer Zindagi Games has crafted a skillful successor to Nintendo’s popular collection, one that illustrates the precision and finesse of the Move controller, while offering players high-definition visuals beyond the capabilities of the Wii.
Of the six titles on the disk, Archery and Disc Golf are Sport Champions uncontested hits. The former works best with a Move controller in each hand, as players test their skills on a variety of ranges. With a backward motion, players pull an arrow from their quiver then notch the projectile by move this controller toward their other outstretched arm. As players pull the controllers apart to simulation bow tension, a cursor appears on-screen, along with a faint target to indicate trajectory. Aiming for a single stationary bulls-eye would undoubtedly induce tedium; smartly, the players are tasked with shooting fruiting, floating targets, tic-tac-toe boards, and even power-ups which can stymie another player.
The key to Disc Golf’s success is the range of moves available to players. Participants can curve disks around trees, fling a quick sidearm toss, and even roll their disk toward each hole’s marker. By expanding a participant’s repertoire, the game feels more organic. After a few matches, I was confident that my newfound skills would translate onto a real-world course experience. Whether that could actually happen is irrelevant- the Disc Golf carefully cultivates the sensation.
Sports Champions‘ remaining recreations-Bocce, Table Tennis, Beach Volleyball, and Gladiator Duel all display varying degrees of competency. Bocce is accurate and simple, elevated by a selection of fanciful courts, while the game’s interpretation of ping-pong allows for a surprising amount of accuracy when returning shots. Volleyball is the most pedestrian of the disk’s events, requiring players to mimic the sport’s mimic bumps, sets and spikes as the game automatically move players around the court. Like Archery, Gladiator Duel is best enjoying with two Move controllers, one acting as a shield, while the other controls a melee weapon. Contests are move about taking advantage of openings, rather than all-out waggle fests. As such, the mini-game begs for extension into a full-fledged action RPG.
Visually, Sport Champions is surprisingly meticulous, with well-detailed character models, environments, an animation. While this type of game has undeniable draw for multiplayer competitions, sole gamers can enjoy each sports variety of challenges, which reward gamers with a steady string of unlockables. Sadly, the title lacks any online matches, having to rely on leaderboards to foster a sense of rivalry.
Sports Champions‘ selection of events is definitely satisfying, with most of the game’s diversions showing off not only an unexpected amount of depth, but also the accuracy of the Move controller. Add online matches, a few more sports, and unify the package with an Olympic-style multi-game contest and the inevitable sequel could be an exemplar for future motion-controlled compilations. Wii Sports, it’s time to step aside.