Deca Sports DS Review
Posted by Jon Wahlgren
Jack of all trades, master of none
Having met considerable success on Wii with their sports game compilation series Deca Sports, Hudson has seen fit to bring their hit to the small screens with all new games and even more players. Living up to its name, the game sports ten games of varying quality: golf, ping pong, rugby, sepak takraw (sort of like a mix between soccer and volleyball), sky diving, cheerleading, clay shooting, wall climbing, arm wrestling and bobsledding. For the most part they're competent minigame adaptations that you and your friends can have some fun with, but they're all a little too simplistic to want to spend any considerable length of time playing.
Events switch between touch-based or button control, and about half of the touch-based ones are a little iffy in implementation, showing good ideas but not really panning out as well as they should. Take cheerleading: it has you tapping in time with shrinking circles to the beat of a generic techno athletic song, essentially a dumbed-down version of Elite Beat Agents. Unlike EBA, the circles are not on the touchscreen and everything feels a little disconnected; you'll eventually get the hang of the timing, but it would be much easier if the touchscreen had the indicators.
In fact, it would be nice if the touchscreen was used to display more during events, but instead it's relegated to the same blue pattern most of the time (there are a few exceptions, like bobsledding and golf) with all of the action happening up top. For a dual-screen setup, the game doesn't exactly take advantage of the hardware in this way. The touch-based games would all benefit from being able to tap your actions directly onto the playing field; accuracy would increase and there'd be less of a disconnect between you and the game. Golf does this and is one of the better events for it; ping pong doesn't and feels discombobulated.
Solo gamers won't be getting too much out of this, even though on paper the options are plentiful. League mode sends you and your team through a gauntlet of each event, you can partake in single-event Tournaments, do some challenges and of course just play any individual game you'd like. There's even a "skill" ranking system in place. The problem is that playing alone against the AI isn't all that challenging in many of the events once you either figure out the trick or get the timing down pat, so it gets dull after a while. Challenges sounds like it'd be the lone gamer's saving grace, but instead of conquering a list of preset challenges it's just a place to set high scores and earn more skill points to boost your rank in order to face harder opponents.
Deca Sports is not about solo play though; multiplayer is the clear way to go and up to six people can get in with single-cart Download Play. Some of the games are more conducive to six-player simultaneous than others –most notably sepak takraw, skydiving and rugby – and the shallow nature is much more tolerable when there's competition involved. It's a more attractive package when you have others to play with, but depending on your friend group's tolerance the lack of depth might be a killer.
Like most minigame compilations, you really need to round up a few friends to get the most fun out of Deca Sports DS. The events have a simplistic skew and several just aren't worth returning to alone, leaving you underwhelmed after a while. You'll likely find a few that bring out that competitive spirit with some friends, but your mileage may vary on how long the spirit stays out.