|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Vancouver||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 3, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Outside of Story, players can participate in Quick Play matches or hop into unlocked mini-games, giving consumers at least a couple more options to extend gameplay. However, Story is the mode of play that will see most of the action. That's because the mini-games and soccer matches are not particularly compelling on their own - when brought together in Story they take on more meaning and feel far more satisfying. There are also a load of items and upgrades, 50 achievement badges, as well as famous Ubisoft characters to unlock, giving the title some meta-game goals to shoot for.
Despite the lack of content, the developers did an excellent job incorporating varied control schemes into the game. While Wii Remote and Nunchuck support works quite well, players with Wii MotionPlus and the Wii Balance Board will also find a few more options. The addition of Wii MotionPlus makes controls and gameplay a bit more complex, allowing you to perform chip shots and lofted passes more readily. The Balance Board has limited support, but taking on freestyle challenges by moving your body in time with the action is a good bit of fun (at least for a little while).
The presentation and production values are of very high quality. As mentioned, the game's look and setting are strikingly similar to what's found in the Harry Potter franchise. The quirky, illustrated take on the characters and venues is very pleasant. Animations, while basic, do a good enough job of representing the action. I also enjoyed the musical themes and sound effects, though they're nothing spectacular or even out of the ordinary. The gibberish mouthed by the onscreen avatars is initially interesting, but it eventually seems like corners were cut to save on paying for real voice acting. After all, none of the conversations are nearly as complex and enjoyable as, say, the comical Simlish spoken in The Sims and My Sims franchises.
Academy of Champions: Soccer is not a must-have game by any stretch. However, it is a very competent collection of soccer-themed mini-games. Still, I wish soccer matches weren't quite as simple as they are, but I doubt the intended audience will mind much. After all, both the mini-games and the soccer are brought together quite nicely in the game's Story mode, which will likely keep soccer-loving kids engaged for hours. What's more, the game's only $30, making it a valuable addition to Wii's kid-friendly library of games.
CCC Editor / News Director