Winter Sports 2012: Feel the Spirit on Wii is, to put it bluntly, catastrophically bad; so bad, in fact, that we “awarded” it a measly 2/10, so there’s obviously absolutely no reason you should be rushing out to pick that travesty up. There is, however, a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel for Nintendo fans in the form of Winter Sports 2012: Feel the Spirit for 3DS. Should you be eager to feel and embrace the spirit of winter sporting events in 3D while on the go, or does this 3DS iteration fall foul to all the unfortunate shortcomings of its console big brother?
One area in which Winter Sports 2012 on 3DS suffers when compared to the Wii version is in playable disciplines; the number available has been stripped down from a generous 10 to a more conservative seven, with slalom, downhill skiing, ski jump, ski cross, curling, ice speedway and short track all present and correct.
However, developer DTP Entertainment has foregone stylus- or gyroscope-based controls in favour of going back to basics on 3DS, with every event controlled solely through the handheld’s Circle Pad and buttons. Some players may lament DTP’s decision to play it safe and not take adequate advantage of the unique control schemes available, but as a result the sports available are, by and large, executed with far more finesse than they were on Wii, with the simple controls remaining tight and responsive across the board.
The 3DS version of Winter Sports 2012 trumps its Wii counterpart in terms of how its controls are implemented, but stumbles in the same way in regards to the amount of content it delivers. As mentioned above, there are fewer playable disciplines, although players can still participate in single events or in cups — made up of predetermined sets of events — in addition to partaking in a plethora of challenges. These are spread across all seven of the included disciplines, except the 30+ available on Wii have fortunately been bolstered by over 20 additional challenges, the difficulty of which range from the insultingly easy to the sadistically challenging.
On 3DS, these challenges can also be undertaken in either normal or pro mode; the former requires the player to simply complete the presented challenge, while the latter ranks players with stars upon completion of each challenge, one to five stars depending on how well they performed. It’s a fantastic way to reward both novices and more skilled players alike, allowing pretty much anybody to dive straight in and feel like they’re accomplishing something, regardless of their level of skill.
Unfortunately, despite the added single player content, multiplayer does take something of a blow on 3DS. The play and pass mechanic from Wii returns here, with up to four players able to compete against each other in all available disciplines and cups, although the bewildering need to take turns also applies to the race-oriented disciplines. You're unable to go head-to-head against rival human players during the ice speedway and short track events; a bizarre omission, we think you’ll agree.
Despite the absence of simultaneous multiplayer in the racing disciplines, the ruthless nature of attempting to achieve a faster run than your friends in downhill skiing or shave mere centimetres off their distances in the ski jump results in some joyfully competitive multiplayer nonetheless. This is amplified by the blisteringly impressive sense of speed present in the relevant events, coupled with Winter Sports 2012’s unrelentingly smooth and consistent framerate, even when players are going full pelt down a snowy piste on nothing but two planks of wood.
That being said, Winter Sports 2012 is somewhat underwhelming in the visuals department. It’s not overly poor by any means — certainly displaying far more graphical grunt on 3DS than it does on Wii — but the visuals can look noticably muddy at times, while the 3D effects are somewhat jarring and add very little to the experience.
Whereas its iteration on Wii is indeed a textbook example of how not to develop a title comprised of multiple sports, Winter Sports 2012: Feel the Spirit on 3DS makes a far more compelling case for donning some virtual thermal underwear and taking to the slopes. There’s definitely room for improvement should there be another instalment next year — the lack of head-to-head multiplayer in relevant events is disappointing and it’s not much of a looker — but this is a sound investment for any sport-loving 3DS owners.