Wacky World of Sports Review
Posted by James Newton
Or should that be "Tacky World of Warts"? Maybe...
It’s a well-known fact that the Wii excels at quick-fire games – sports compilations and minigame packages abound, and amongst all those renditions of golf, tennis, boxing and the rest you’d have to assume there’s no sport on Earth yet to be rendered in glorious Wii-o-vision. Well, you would be wrong, as Tabot have proven with this compilation of decidedly left-field sports. Is there enough to recommend this package above its oddball choice of events, though?
Well, initially, no. The game starts off nicely, with some classic Sega sports game music and a decently animated movie that shows off the characters and events. Jumping into the tour mode you take on your first event, Fierljeppen, which is sort of a cross between pole vault and long jump, only over a crocodile-hosting river. The controls are as you’d expect – shake the Remote to run and flick it up to jump onto your pole, but after that you must continue shaking the Remote up to climb the slippery pole. If you shake it any direction other than perfectly vertically, your stick will start to lean over to one side, at which point you must shake in the opposite direction to straight it, before finally leaping off with another flick of your Remote. As with all sports games, it’s down to timing, physical exertion and skill, but the standard Remote’s ability to detect perfect vertical movements makes it difficult to climb the pole quickly: MotionPlus would have been a big help here. As it stands, it’s a mediocre introduction that is as likely to frustrate you as entertain you, especially considering your opponents will double your best efforts at the drop of a hat.
In fact, the opponents drag the game down in other events, too. You always compete against three other characters – understandably as your position in each event dictates whether you progress to the final – but you have to skip through their performances too. Mario and Sonic (the only other sports compilation of any quality on the console) lets you play your event, then see the results at the end, a much better system in our eyes. It could be argued that seeing the other competitors do their thing will help you get to grips with the sometimes odd controls, but in reality it makes all the turns-based games drag.
Once you get past the first event, you move onto Log Cutting, which is much more reliant on observation and rhythm than straight-up waggling. Three types of object appear in front of your character – vertical logs, horizontal logs and, of course, bombs – and you must either chop them vertically with a Remote swipe or bat them away by holding and swiping horizontally. In time you build up an attack meter that lets you stun other competitors, but even without that, you shouldn’t have any problems winning this event by a country mile, especially compared to the slog of Fierljeppen.
This inconsistency has plagued countless minigame compilations over the years, so it’s disappointing to see it take effect here too, especially as a last-place finish in any event often ruins your chances of progressing to the final no matter how well you do in the others. Failure isn’t necessarily the end of the world though – your position in each event earns you points which get converted to gold, which you can spend in the official Wacky World of Sports shop to give you the edge next time you venture into the world tour. A few attempts at each sport and a new piece of equipment could make all the difference, although depending on which event you’re taking on you might lose patience long before this point.
Ice Golf, for example, is laborious and dull beyond traditional measurements of human pain. It’s essentially a standard hole of golf played on – right! – ice, but the tweak is your body heat is dropping all the time, so you need to hole out quickly or play close to one of the bonfires littering the course to recover heat. The control scheme works reasonably well but the game’s far too tedious to keep your attention, especially as you have to skip through your opponents’ shots, meaning you spend less than half your time actually playing shots and more just tapping until you’re up. Considering the slippery surface you’d hope for a little leeway on the size of the cup – our hopes were on a Wii Sports Resort Frisbee Golf-style target – but sadly it’s a standard-sized cup, although to be honest you’re just as likely to have snapped your virtual club before you even get to the pin.
As bad as Ice Golf is, the package improves once you take on one of the driving-based games. Furniture Racing is a bog-standard racer (literally – one of the available cars is a toilet!) that recreates a Wacky Races-meets-F-Zero vibe with its cheeky shortcuts, jostling playstyle complete with attacks and a big old boost button. It’s an odd mix that works nicely, and although there’s only two courses in multiplayer it’s still good fun.
The other racing game – Lawnmower Racing – almost makes the package worthwhile on its own. Well, maybe not, but it’s still entertaining. Played top-down like Super Sprint or other old-school races, you have to cut grass as you race along, with the chopped grass fuelling the boosts you activate with . The standard racing line is on pretty short grass, but if you venture off the beaten track you’ll find patches of longer grass that fill your boost gauge quicker. It’s an interesting mechanic in that it encourages you to stray from the racing line as once the short grass is gone you’ll actually move slower, and results in some pretty frantic races as you end up competing for grass patches as well as just to head to the finish line quicker. With power-ups including a big old Blade, a Watering Can to rejuvenate the grass and even a raging Cow, it’s the only sport whose wackiness ably transfers to creating an enjoyable video game approximation.
Card Boxing is decent too, though not actually based on a real world sport (it claims to take its influence from Chess Boxing). Essentially it mixes a super-simple boxing game – you only have one glove for a start! – with a game of concentration (or pairs), with the winner being the first pugilist to score a knockout or match up seven pairs. The boxing mechanics actually work well with only the Remote (in fact, none of the sports support a Nunchuk), with being used to guard and a combination of and a sway evading your opponent’s punches.
Of the other events, Extreme Ironing is definitely worth a go – it plays out as a rhythm action game with you using different movements to lay out shirts, iron those pesky creases out, add a burst of steam with and then, brilliantly, “freestyle” when the wavy arrow comes up. You build combos and your score increases accordingly, and it’s good fun at first, though it’s hard to say you’ll want to come back to it again and again.
Tuna Tossing is a slight alteration of hammer throw (see if you can guess the main difference), but rather than spinning your arm constantly you only make one rotation when an arrow lines up in the right section of the gauge, then you can shake the Remote to get your tuna to flap its fins and get a little extra distance. Cheese Rolling is a little like bowling only long distance – you can alter the cheese’s lean by rotating the Remote, although again the standard Remote’s not ideal for this and sometimes you’ll find yourself wishing for MotionPlus support. Mud Sliding, the final event, starts out as a standard running race and ends up a cross between slalom skiing and bobsleigh, as you rotate the Remote to direct your character through gates to earn speed boosts. They’re all decent events, with only the imprecision of the controls really bogging them down.
You’re probably getting the impression by now that it’s hard to recommend Wacky World of Sports due to its hit-and-miss events and occasionally poor controls. A few events – specifically Lawnmower Racing, Card Boxing and Furniture Racing – are worth playing, but in general they’re not good enough to raise this package above the mediocre. The graphics are stylised in a decent enough way, the sound is largely inoffensive (although the repetition of a small number of voice samples will send you mental) and it’s not the affront to gaming it could have been. However, if you’re after a sports package you’ll want to play repeatedly, save your money and grab Wii Sports Resort instead.