As purchasers of any of Nordcurrent’s 101-In-1 anthologies will likely tell you, there’s a direct correlation between the number of diversions on a collection and the depth of each game. One series that has admirably attempted to straddle the balance between quantity and quality is Hudson’s Deca Sports series. With franchise entries on the Wii, DS, and Kinect-enabled 360, each compilation has delivered a set of simple, pick-up-and-play activities, recalling Wii Sports’ mini-games.
Following Konami’s acquisition of Hudson last winter, the latest iteration in the prolific series may have changed publishers, but the core tenets haven’t changed. Deca Sports Extreme for the 3DS still showcases teams of Mii-esque athletes who compete in a variety of pastimes which range from the conventional to the exotic. One of the game’s strengths over similar collections is the inclusion of a light-role playing aspect, where success earns points used to augment each athlete’s abilities, as well as unlock additional appearances for the title’s player editor. However, unlike previous entries in the Deca franchise, the title can exhibit a curious lack of continuity.
One of Extreme’s core blemishes is the lack of a unified control scheme. While Basketball, Soccer, and Tennis utilize the circle pad and buttons, Hockey employs a curious combination of the pad and touch screen. Meanwhile, Sport Blowgunning uses the gyroscope and microphone to launch darts at a target. With such diversity in input schemes, new players are compelled to read each game’s instructions, instead of instinctively leaping into each activity. Ideally, the game would have offered redundant control methods, allowing players to utilize the input system of their preference.
Fortunately, at least one universal control technique exists. Pressing the left trigger in any mini-game initiates a Super Play- where players are able to execute a formidable shot-on-goal, slam dunk, or in Bowling create a whirlwind around the ball. Similar to NBA Jam’s ‘on-fire’ mode, athletes are able to perform superhuman feats and depending on when the ability is instigated, can assist a player who is trailing on the scoreboard.
Like any comparable compilation, Deca Sports Extreme’s mini-games vary widely in quality. Both Tennis’ baseline and Soccer’s sideline perspective provide a solid view of the action, while Hockey’s camera can become obscured, giving the AI an unfair scoring advantage. Even worse, Snowball Fight’s protective barriers tend to conceal both friend and foe. When it comes to gameplay, both Sumo Wrestling and the aforementioned Snowball Fight are the cartridge’s uncontested clunkers. The former feels like a slapdash fighting game with players’ swings rarely connecting, while the latter’s take on ‘Capture the Flag’ in undermined by auto-aiming, eliminating any challenge.
Luckily, a few mini-games are bound to hold a gamer’s interest. Sport Blowgun recalls Wii Sports Resort’s Archery, tasking players to compensate for wind, target distance, and the slight lag which occurs before the 3DS picks up sound of player’s blowing into the 3DS mic. Trampoline’s increasingly complicated button taps, holds, and when Super Play is activated, direction-pad presses are another standout.
Supplementing the decathlon of diversions is a championship where players ascend the ranks against opposing teams, in-game achievements, as well as a tournament mode. While each of these variations are pleasing, occasionally a match can pit two team with very similar uniform colors, putting human players at a serious disadvantage. While Deca Sport Extreme omits online play, the cartridge does allow download play, sending mini-games to up to three local players.
With two superior pastimes, six competent games, and two duds, Deca Sports Extreme doesn’t quite live up to its hyperbolic moniker- supplying a rather conventional collection of ten activities. Although the anthology is being released at a $29.99 price point, I’d recommend that curious gamers wait for a ten dollar drop in price before adding the cartridge to their collection. Which each mini-game comparable to a two-dollar smartphone app, the injury to player’s wallets shouldn’t be Extreme.