Deca Sports 2 Review
Posted by Anthony Dickens
Go on, be a sport!
Following quickly after Hudson's Job Island is the sequel to last year’s Deca Sports imaginatively titled Deca Sports 2 (Sports Island 2 in Europe). The follow up is instantly recognisable and extremely similar to the original game with the same visual style but with ten new sports to play.
If you haven't heard much of the first game, essentially Deca Sports 2 is another sports-compilation game which tries to follow in the footsteps of the ever-popular Wii Sports that debuted with the Wii console. Hudson, one countless third party developers are trying to emulate the success and innovation of Wii Sports but to this day they have pretty much all failed with the odd notable exception of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games.
Much like Deca Sports, you can play the game either as a Single Player with an Open Match, League, Tournament or Challenge or with friends in Team Play (1 to 4 players) with an Open Match, VS Play or Tournament.
The original Deca Sports was criticised for its unbalanced controls, strange selection of sports and general unpolished feel. Unfortunately things haven't improved massively with the new iteration. Let’s talk through the different sports we have on offer in Deca Sports 2:
First up is five-a-side Ice Hockey, controls are fairly predictable here with the controlling your player then a quick Wii Remote waggle to pass and a Wii Remote waggle whilst holding to shoot. Ice Hockey is actually one of the better sports to be found in the game, but even this has control issues, it's hard to really know what you’re doing and feels somewhat disjointed all the way from the face-off.
Next is Tennis, a questionable move from Hudson after the excellent example set by Nintendo themselves. In this sport you can play either singles or doubles with one crucial difference over Wii Sports; you can actually move your player around. Movement however is done using the and buttons to move forward/back with the (D-pad) moving you left and right; why the option of simply using the Nunchuck was excluded we'll never know.
The Kendo sport is basically a form of Japanese fencing, extremely simple controls involving forward/back movement with some Wii Remote waggle for thrusting sword attacks, one of the simplest games on Deca Sports 2.
Speed Skating is almost your typical running event (think Mario & Sonic) however each left/right action needs to be timed with an on-screen gauge, whilst this does make it slightly more skilful, it'll take you all of 5 seconds to understand and master - again too extremely simple.
Synchronised Swimming raises an eyebrow, a curious choice for inclusion, this sport works by timing Wii Remote gestures with on-screen rings around your character. Rings with a left arrow require a timed left swing; rings with a right arrow require a timed right swing etc. Once more it’s extremely simple and doesn't feel particularly involving.
Having played Petangue in real life, I wondered how this would translate with the Wii Remote controls, the closest thing to compare it to is Wii Sports Bowling. Throwing your balls at a jack is achieved by underarm hold and release of the button, your throw is measured against a power gauge which determines the distance. It's surprisingly difficult to get consistency in your throws, gauging the power is frustrating from what otherwise is a pretty good implementation of the game.
Motorcycle Racing is exactly what it says on the tin, holding the Wii Remote sideways you race around some pretty simple tracks with frankly some very poor controls. The developers have tried to distract the gamer with a poor motion blur technique but even that doesn't hide the unrealistic gameplay you will find here.
Having played a couple of other Skiing games I was disappointed with the Mogul Skiing section. Similar to Speed Skating your required to swing the Wii Remote/Nunchuck left and right in time to weave the moguls before hitting the jump kickers where you can perform basic tricks by flicking the controllers left or right or alternate.
Dodgeball has a little more to it than other sports; you can throw, pass and catch the ball. Classic rules apply; knocking out your opponents with hits until none are left wins you the match. In fairness Dodgeball works okay however it lacks any real interest after the first couple of games.
Completing this year’s collection of sports is Darts. The idea is to hold the Wii Remote like a dart, pinching the and buttons as you pull back and throw forward - being careful not to let go of the Wii Remote. Personally I found it incredibly difficult to hold the Wii Remote like this, instantly turning me off and causing me to find aiming extremely frustrating.
All of the sports are presented in a consistent style with a vibrant array of colours with sadly, reasonably poor graphics; its no-way near the levels of detail of Mario & Sonic. One of the good things about Deca Sports 2 is the presentation, menu systems are clear and work very well, music is upbeat and encouraging if only slightly repetitive.
Before starting each match you’re given the opportunity to complete the sport tutorial - essential the first play through. The tutorials are mainly useful albeit slightly long winded at times.
It's clear that Hudson have made some improvements over the original title but not enough to really warrant a second look. One big addition to the game is the Team Editor found in the "Locker Room".
The Team Editor allows you to create/design/edit your entire team using a Mii style character editor. Whilst this is a nice idea the Mii imitation is not even as good Nintendo's basic Mii offering; it would of made a lot more sense for Hudson to send Nintendo more Christmas cards and gained their trust to use the Mii characters. Perhaps Nintendo's QA department had something to do with that decision.
Deca Sports 2 inherits a number of the problems from the first game, strange questionable control schemes coupled with a wild array of sports leave us slightly confused as to what Hudson are trying to achieve especially when Mario & Sonic delivered such good cohesion throughout.
Hudson's Deca Sports 2 is not the worst sports compilation game we've played on Wii but it's certainly not in the top echelon either. Frustrating controls, simplistic gameplay and relatively poor graphics make for a forgettable title. If you decide to take the plunge and give this game a chance we suspect you'll tire of it after only a short while. Compared to Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games which runs away with first place, Deca Sports 2 barely manages to just limp over the line.