When it comes to defining gameplay on Wii, nothing quite says it better than the new Wii Sports franchise. From its humble beginnings as a mere system pack-in, the series has captivated mainstream audiences and still remains one of the most-played games among current Wii owners. With that in mind, it’s no surprise to see third-party publishers follow suit, hoping to take a bite of Nintendo’s now-sizeable install base. Deca Sports 2 from Hudson has a presentation and premise that’s ripe for the picking, but is this compilation worth your cash?
Like Wii Sports, Deca Sports 2 offers no story. In fact, the very first options you’ll be presented with are Offline Mode and Nintendo WiFi Connection Mode. The menus are attractive and easy to navigate, with large buttons and a simple system that makes jumping into gameplay a breeze.
Offline options include Single Play, Team Play, and the Locker Room. The Locker Room is where most folks will want to begin, since it offers tutorials for each of the 10 included sports; it’s also the place to check out personal records, as well as edit teams and characters.
When creating or tweaking characters, you’ll make use of an editor that greatly resembles that of the Mii Channel creation tools. There are a few unique features and options here, but on the whole, it’s nothing most Wii owners shouldn’t already be well familiar with. Team editing, however, is much more limited, with merely a selection of preset emblems to represent your team, as well as the option to name your team and change out characters.
Once you’ve acquainted yourself with the Locker Room, you can get on with the actual gameplay. Regardless of whether you opt to play alone or with friends, the options are mostly the same. Single Play modes include Open Match, League, and Tournament. Open Match is your typical free-play mode, allowing players to quickly jump into any of the 10 included sporting events. League mode tasks you with playing through all 10 sports, and finally, Tournament allows you to focus on one particular sport, competing against various teams in hopes of winning a championship.
The multiplayer is much the same, though, of course, you’ll have versus options for up to four players. You’re occasionally afforded the opportunity to choose a certain type of landscape or determine the length of each game, but the options are otherwise fairly basic. Certain events do have a left-or-right-handed option, but, oddly enough, the sports that would otherwise benefit from it the most – those that use both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk – do not.
The mini-games on tap here include: hockey, tennis, kendo, speed skating, synchronized swimming, petanque, road racing, mogul skiing, dodge ball, and darts. All of the sports make use of motion control in one form or another, though with varying degrees of success.
Hockey is probably the most fleshed out game of the bunch, and it plays, in some respects, like Mario Strikers. You’ll use both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk for hockey, steering your player with the analog stick and shooting the puck by shaking the Wii Remote. Control feels pretty tight, and with a bit of practice, hockey promises a fair amount of entertainment.
Tennis will likely be an easy event to jump into for anyone who’s already played Wii Sports, but there are a few notable differences here. For one, there’s a slight delay from the time you swing the Wii Remote to the time your character swings his or her racket. Additionally, pressing the A button allows you to move up toward the net, and pressing B moves your character further back. These extra mechanics come in handy for lobbing the ball, which is executed by swinging upward with the Wii Remote. Unfortunately, the controls are super sensitive, and subtle movements are often misread as swings.
Kendo is the game’s take on swordplay, and we’d have to say it’s the weakest of all the sporting events. The kendo mini-game amounts to little more than performing vertical and horizontal swipes with the Wii Remote to execute attacks, and gestures are consistently misread. Blocking and lunging add a bit of strategy to the mix, but the gameplay feels archaic when compared to the sword fighting in Wii Sports Resort.
Speed skating and mogul skiing utilize both controllers. You’ll need to hold the Z and B buttons while gesturing in sync with onscreen cues. Both games are functional (for right-handed players), if not completely lacking any excitement.
Petanque can be mildly amusing, but without use of the Wii MotionPlus accessory (which none of the events utilize), tossing balls is imprecise; road racing uses just the Wii Remote turned sideways to steer, and though the controls work fine, it’s a completely lackluster experience; darts offers three types of traditional gameplay, but the mechanics are poorly designed; and finally, we have dodge ball and synchronized swimming, both games fitting snugly within a package that just isn’t all that enjoyable.
Though it’s often overlooked in Wii games, rumble feedback can add a lot to the experience of motion-controlled gameplay. Unfortunately, there is no tactile feedback in Deca Sports 2, which means most of the events feel hollow.
Hudson must be commended, however, for adding online play into the mix, something many Wii owners felt was lacking in Wii Sports Resort. The downside is that a community for Deca Sports 2 is likely to never flourish. In our numerous attempts at testing the game online with random players, we were unable to get matched up with anyone. Getting logged on to the network was easy, however, even if finding other players proved fruitless.
On the production front, the presentation is polished and slick, though the actual in-game graphics leave much to be desired. Menus are attractive, with music conspicuously reminiscent of Nintendo’s own sports-themed, mini-game compilations. The actual events, however, are lifeless, and the character models are as generic as it gets. The crowd animations look terrible, moving in stunted frames that are poorly rendered. The music for some events is inappropriately lively, while other themes are mind-numbingly sedate.
It’s impossible to fault Hudson for wanting to tap into Nintendo’s success of the Wii Sports franchise. Unfortunately, the publisher seems to have missed the forest for the trees. Putting style above substance, Deca Sports 2 looks a lot like Wii Sports on the surface, but that spark of magic just isn’t present here. One or two of the minis can be fun in short sittings (especially with friends), but on the whole, it’s a package that lacks a solid fun factor. The controls are often a crapshoot, and ultimately there’s little here to hold players’ interest.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.0 Graphics
The menus are attractive; everything else is merely passable. 2.5 Control
Hockey is the one event that works fairly well and offers the most spice. Most of the other sporting events are reasonably competent, even if they aren’t very fun to play through. The lack of rumble feedback is sorely missed in Deca Sports 2. 2.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Completely average in every respect. Both the sound effects and music are uninspired and often mismatched with the gameplay at hand. 2.8
Were there an online community for Deca Sports 2, the hockey alone might be a selling point. Ultimately, though, the game will only serve to remind people of the value of Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort.
2.7 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.