|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: The Code Monkeys||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: The Game Factory||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Mar. 17, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
February 17, 2009 - Sports buffs may have plenty of DS titles to pick from to fulfill their desire to flex virtual muscles and compete in rounds of action-packed digital athleticism, but players seeking a full-flavored track and field experience on Nintendos handheld are limited in their choices.
Konami recently revived its old-school Track & Field franchise with a cartoonish reboot. Moving in a different direction, The Game Factory is going for a more realistic-focused athletic gaming experience with the upcoming World Championship Games A Track & Field Event.
To be more specific, World Championship Games contains more than a dozen different track and field events that span many of the traditional activities one would associate with stadium competition alongside a few rather unique events. Youll find track events (like the 100m and 400m sprints, 110m hurdles, and 1500m run), jumping events (long jump, high jump, and pole vault), throwing events (shot put, discus, javelin, hammer), and targeting events (archery, rapid pistol fire, and running target). While some activities provide a greater challenge than others, a variety of play modes and unlockable rewards (including additional events) provide added incentive to replay and hone your skills over time.
Players start out by customizing their virtual athlete by picking their sex, skin tone, body build, hair color, outfit, and name. In the preview build we played, changes to some elements didnt make a huge impact in a characters appearance. Theres a little variety built in to switch things up, but the end result is still essentially a nondescript, trim athlete that looks pretty much exactly like most other opponents youll compete against. It wont take long to finalize your appearance; from there, its off to compete.
Whether youre up for a marathon session or just want to play a few quick events, there are a handful of options available to suit your fancy. In a decathlon (the games career mode), youll compete in a sequence of 10 events in an attempt to beat your personal best, beat the world record, and unlock medals. Tournaments send you to different countries to compete in varying numbers of events. The venue and events change depending on you locations, and youll seek to rank higher than other competing countries in order to earn trophies and unlock other goodies. For anyone having trouble mastering a particular event, a quick play mode lets you spend a little extra time mastering controls and gameplay in tougher challenges without fear of scoring poorly and losing out in a major competition. Three different difficulty settings provide a scalable challenge. The game supports local wireless and online multiplayer competition via Wi-Fi. As an added bonus, another multiplayer mode is included to let you take turns competing against a pal by passing a single DS back and forth.
All of the events in World Championship Games are played through a combination of stylus maneuvers and button presses. Running events have you either tapping left and right foot prints as they alternately scroll down the lower screen and come into contact with a horizontal bar in order to build a steady momentum. Alternately, youll sometimes just rub the stylus back and forth, paying attention to a stamina bar to ensure you can keep up a steady pace. Events requiring jumping are a little trickier, since youll have to input different button combinations at just the right times while also tapping the touch screen to keep running. Throwing events control similarly, even though youre engaged in a different motion. Shooting activities are perhaps the easiest to master and the most enjoyable. Admittedly, the controls take some getting used to, and they occasionally require you to divide your attention between things happening on both screens. In most cases they work reasonably well, but youll likely have to clock some practice time in to get the hang of it. Fortunately, instructions are displayed on the top screen before each event.
The graphics and audio presentation in World Championship Games take on a serious tone that conveys an appropriate sense of pride, honor, and sportsmanship that accompanies Olympic-style competition. Theres plenty of cheering from the crowd, and tremendous fanfare to set the proper mood. The athletes themselves posses a broad range of movement and physical expression, even if their facial features are tough to make out. Frequent changes in viewpoint and unique camera angles mirror what youd see on TV and provide a good perspective on the competition and the stadium locations youll frequent.
Players seeking a more serious track and field competition experience on the DS that emulates the look, sound, and feel of actual tournaments should find World Championship Games to be suitably appealing. It contrasts sharply with traditionally kid-oriented sports game fare on Nintendos handheld, and it provides gameplay aimed at a more general audience. Overcome the minor hurdles presented by the somewhat tricky touch controls, and you just might find youve got what it takes to go for the gold.
CCC Staff Contributor