World Championship Games: A Track & Field Event Review for Nintendo DS

World Championship Games: A Track & Field Event Review for Nintendo DS

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The Olympic dream seems to be alive and well. With DS entries such as Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games and New International Track & Field, players have the opportunity to win big in the virtual world of championship athletics. The Game Factory and Code Monkeys now team up to jump in the ring with World Championship Games: A Track & Field Event. It promises “the most realistic athletics simulation available on handheld consoles,” but does it truly win the Gold, or is this merely a pipe dream?

World Championship Games: A Track & Field Event screenshot

World Championship Games (WCG) gives you three single-player options, though each offers essentially the same experience. Quick Play gives you the option of selecting from any of the unlocked sports events for a quick fix on the go; Decathlon paces you through 10 events; Tournament seems to be pretty much the same thing as Decathlon, and we’re not at all sure why it’s been at added.

The menu system is fairly straightforward and easy to use. Regardless of which single-player option you choose, you’ll first be asked to select a difficulty setting – Rookie, Pro, or Advanced. You’ve got track events, jumping events, throwing, and targeting.

In track events, you’ve got the 100m Sprint, 400m Sprint, 110m Hurdles, and the 1500m. The way these are each played is by tapping footprints on the touch screen as they appear over a shadowed bar – very much like a rhythm game. The controls work fine, and the 100m Sprint is mildly entertaining. Once you move up to the 400m Sprint, things feel a bit long and drawn out; the 1500m is simply not fun in any shape or form.

World Championship Games: A Track & Field Event screenshot

The hurdles event mixes things up a bit in terms of track events, but the design is simply too impractical to be fun. You move your athlete in the same way as the other track events, though you’ll have to hit a shoulder button to get them to jump over hurdles as they approach. The thing is, having to constantly watch the bottom screen in order to keep your running in rhythm doesn’t work when you also need to watch the top screen so you’ll know when you need to jump.

Next up are the jumping events. Here, you have Long Jump, High Jump, and Pole Vault. This is where things begin to get a little more interesting, though again, the design just doesn’t quite pan out. For the Long Jump, you’ll again tap on footprints in order to make your athlete run, and when you approach the jump area, you’ll then have to tap a shoulder button to initiate the first of two gauges; once the first gauge reaches its sweet spot, you have to press and hold the shoulder button again until a second gauge reaches its sweet spot. Unfortunately, the way in which the game explains the controls to you is completely useless, though once you figure out how the event actually works, it is somewhat fun and challenging.

World Championship Games: A Track & Field Event screenshot

The other two jumping events work similarly. However, you’ll move your character by simply sliding your stylus from side-to-side on the touch screen in order to build up speed. In both the High Jump and Pole Vault you can set the bar to whatever height you like, since winning the event is based solely on your combined height after three attempts. The High Jump uses three gauges, and though it’s challenging to pull off, it’s rewarding when you’re successful. The Pole Vault, however, unnecessarily complicates things, and with control instructions that are utterly baffling, it’s merely an exercise in extreme frustration.

The throwing and targeting events fare a bit better, and though all of the events feel quite sterile, the controls generally work well. Throwing events mostly call for you to spin your stylus in circles on the touch screen to build up momentum and then implement gauges to optimize your throws. Targeting offers archery and shooting, which are fairly accurate in terms of control; simply aim with the stylus and fire with a shoulder button.

World Championship Games: A Track & Field Event screenshot

And that’s it, really… that’s pretty much everything WCG has to offer. There are several multiplayer options, and a couple of them are actually quite viable ways to enjoy the game with friends. The first is Single DS, which offers an ad hoc option where you simply pass the DS around (up to four players). There’s also Single Card, Multi-card, and online play via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. When giving the online option a go, we had absolutely no luck finding another human soul to play this game with. There is a trophy section, as well as stat tracking, but with gameplay that falls flat, these additional features feel fairly shallow.

Though the game’s official website boasts WCG to offer “Superior character, animation [modeling], and in-game A.I.,” nothing could be further from the truth. This game, on the whole, looks downright ugly – all but the menu screens, perhaps. When you first start playing, you’re given the option of creating a character – gender, hair, outfit, skin, and build. Hair comes in four colors – no different styles – and changing the build merely zooms the character closer into view. Regardless of how shallow the options are, everything just looks terrible. Character models are blocky with very little detail, and though you are given five different countries to sport in, each arena looks the same: bland and lifeless. There was no noticeable slowdown and the characters do animate smoothly, but there was constant screen-tearing, as well as textures popping in and out during events.

The audio does very little to add to the presentation, as there is no music during events. You’ll get some victory music at the end of competitions, as well as a bit of cheering here and there, but overall, WCG is a fairly bleak experience throughout.

World Championship Games: A Track & Field Event is less of an event and more of a chore. Some of the games are mildly entertaining, but extremely bad instruction, matched with poor design, make for an experience that is less than satisfying. Add to that a terrible presentation and an online component that’s sure to remain barren, and this $30 game is a total bust. If you’re a fan of these types of sporting events, try one of the other two aforementioned games – each offers better control, better production values, as well as genuine fun.

This game is a very poor example of the 3D visuals that can be rendered on DS. Though animations are okay, there’s no art and no style. 2.5 Control
It’s all hit-and-miss, with a lot more miss than hit. Ultimately, though, the game stumbles far too often to be a champion… or even an amateur athlete. 2.9 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The cheering from the audience doesn’t sound great, but at least it comes in shades that offer feedback about your performance. Music is sparse and uneventful, and panting sounds from your athlete do little to add to the sense of fatigue. 2.4

Play Value
There are some decent ideas here, as well as moments of mild entertainment. However, there’s very little variety on display. An exhaustive number of missteps, along with slapped-together production values, make this a fairly poor offering.

2.4 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Accurate representations of 14 events: 100m, Long Jump, Shot Put, High Jump, 400m, 110m Hurdles, Discus, Pole Vault, Javelin, 1500m, Hammer, Running Target Ri?e shooting, Rapid Fire Pistol shooting, and Archery.
  • Single-player Decathlon, Tournament, and Quick Event modes, and Multiplayer modes for 2-4 players.
  • Create your own customized male or female athlete with their own distinctive attributes.

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