Deca Sports Updated Hands-On

We check out a few more events in this quick-play sports game from Hudson.

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With the 2008 Summer Olympic Games approaching quickly, it makes sense that we'd start to see sports games based on the kinds of athletic events that make the Olympics so popular. One such game is the upcoming Deca Sports, which we first saw at last year's Tokyo Game Show. The game was in the early stages then, with only three of the final 10 events available to try out. In January, we saw the game again and tried out a few other events, including figure skating (OK, not all of the games are based in the summer) to get a feel for how the localized version of the game was shaping up. Recently, Hudson dropped by to give us one more look at the game, bringing a build that was much closer to the final product that will be on store shelves this summer.

It's not Mario Kart, but kart racing will be in Deca Sports.
It's not Mario Kart, but kart racing will be in Deca Sports.

Deca Sports will include a number of game modes: open match, tournament, Deca league, and Deca challenge. Open match mode is a quick start match that will let you get into any of the 10 events. In tournament mode, you tackle one individual event, working to rise to the top of that particular sport. The Deca league will have you taking on challengers from a number of different teams in every sport available in the game. Finally, each of the events in the game will have one or more associated Deca challenges that you can compete in to test yourself and better learn the controls in the game.

Not that the controls are much of a problem, mind you. All of the events in the game, including the new events we tried today (curling, basketball, kart racing, supercross, and a look at the slightly revamped archery event) use the Wii Remote in ways that are very natural. Most events only use the remote by itself, but basketball--like the soccer event-- you use the Nunchuk for player movement.

Kart racing was our first stop in this build of Deca, and it should be noted that while this is still an arcade racing game, the kart racing in Deca Sports has very little to do with Mario Kart. There are no turtle shells or other weapons to shoot; instead, it's strict track racing for up to four players. You control the cart by holding the remote horizontally and steering left or right. The 2 button acts as the gas and the 1 button is the brakes. You can draft off an opponent ahead of you or swerve around to avoid an opponent from taking advantage of your draft. The supercross event is controlled similarly except that in this event, you have control over the pitch of your bike by moving the controller backward and forward. You can even pull a trick off a big jump by waggling the Wii Remote in the air.

Canadian sports fans, rejoice, because curling is finally coming to the Wii in Deca Sports. That obscure but strangely compelling competition--somewhere between shuffleboard and marbles (and played on ice, naturally)--makes a pretty smooth transition to the game thanks to some easy controls. In curling, the goal is to slide a heavy marker, known as a stone, down the long icy court and onto a target, known as a house, with the player who manages to be closest to the center target earning points. In addition to the person setting the stone off on its path down the ice, you have multiple sweepers who move in front of the stone and literally sweep the ice to help keep it moving.

The Deca Sports version of curling serves as a good way of explaining the different teams that are found in the game. The game has eight teams, each made up of players of different size--small, medium, and large. This lineup will play an important role in the Deca league, where you have to play certain people on certain events, because using one player too often will result in that player getting tired. In curling, however, the differences between the players are accentuated by the power they have to move the stone down the ice. This is shown most obviously in the power meter associated with each player.

To push the stone down the ice, you first hold the B button down, then move the Wii Remote forward at the right time; twisting it to the left or right will add additional "curl" to the stone, allowing you to maneuver around opponent stones (or knock them off target). As the stone moves down the ice, you can sweep the ice in front of it by wiggling the Wii Remote back and forth. Sweeping will add distance to your shot or increase the curl. Because each player on your team takes a turn throwing the stone, you'll always need to be conscious of your player's size (and his or her power bar) to move the stone accurately.

Rejoice, Canada, for curling is in this game. Better yet, it's actually sort of fun.
Rejoice, Canada, for curling is in this game. Better yet, it's actually sort of fun.

In basketball, you use the analog stick on the Nunchuk to move players around the court. This is three-on-three hoops, and you switch between players by using the Z or A button. When in possession of the ball, you can pass with the A button and shoot the ball by moving the remote up, then flicking it forward at the right moment. When on defense, you can swipe at the ball by moving the Wii Remote or go for the block or board by moving the Wii Remote up. Again, player size makes a difference here, though oddly enough, your biggest players turn out to be your best shooters. The games move at a good clip, partially due to a lack of penalties, and it winds up being one of the better events in the game.

Taking a cue from the Mario & Sonic Olympic version of archery, the bow-and-arrow event in Deca has been slightly tweaked. Previously, all you did was point your Wii Remote and use the B button to draw your string. In this build, you'll have to pull back the string by moving the Wii Remote back. It's not a huge change--you can still hold the Wii Remote out in front of you to aim once the bow string is locked. The archery event still requires a steady hand and remains one of our favorite in the game.

All of the events in Deca Sports will include challenges that will help you hone your skills. For the racing events, you can do time trials on the different tracks (three total, one for each skill level). For the other events, the challenges differ: For curling, you aim your stone at different targets on the ice looking to achieve a certain point total, whereas for archery, your goal is to earn points for hitting a progressively smaller target.

Deca Sports looks to be sticking close to the Wii Sports model of quick, casual games that are ideal for multiplayer. Look for more on the game as we lead up to its release this summer.

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