Another month, and yet another collection of motion controlled recreations of various sports rears its head on Wii, a console that already has sports-based minigame collections in unparalleled abundance. The latest contender to make a foolish bid to overthrow Wii Sports Resort as the undisputed champion of must-have titles for casual Wii-owning sports fans? Winter Sports 2012: Feel the Spirit, courtesy of PQube and DTP Entertainment.
We’re not going to beat about the bush here: Winter Sports 2012 is terrible. Right from the off, it assaults players’ unsuspecting eyes with bland, garish visuals portraying the usual powdery snow of the pistes as nothing more than a solid mass of white. Character models don’t fare much better as they jerkily lollop their way down ski slopes or around ice rinks in some of the most unconvincing animation routines ever pressed onto a disc. Rounding off Winter Sports 2012’s woeful production values are a few pieces of irritating music — looped constantly — that will likely lead you to jam knives inside your TV’s speakers just to put an end to the unrelenting audial torture
That might sound like we’re being overly critical; after all, graphics and audio should always come second to entertaining gameplay. Sadly, while there’s nothing inherently wrong with Winter Sports 2012’s control schemes, its front end nonetheless surrounds controls that are so woefully unresponsive and give the player such a miniscule amount of tactile feedback or feeling that they’re actually governing what their on-screen character is up to that they sap away any of the potential enjoyment that might have been found.
This applies whether you're using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo or the Wii Balance Board, which Winter Sports 2012 supports in all of its ski-based events; for example, attempting to traverse the twisting, winding slalom while standing on the Balance Board is a bona fide lesson in futility. The only exception is the ski jump event, which Winter Sports 2012 manages to pull off with relatively few blunders.
The ten disciplines on hand for players to lurch their way through — slalom, downhill skiing, ski jump, ski cross, curling, giant slalom, Super G (a mixture of downhill and slalom), short track (ice skating race), ice speedway (motorcycle race) and snowboard freestyle — can be played as either singular events or within cups, of which there are a handful present, each one containing a predetermined set of sports. In addition to being cumbersome and unwieldy, the majority of the events are plodding and unexciting; it's most apparent during the ice speedway and downhill skiing segments.
Alternatively, Challenge mode presents players with over 30 challenges spread across all available activities. The objective of each is seemingly designed to help hone skills in each discipline, though the lethargic responsiveness of the controls makes doing so utterly pointless.
All told, there’s not a tremendous amount of content included. Therefore, should you be masochistic enough to tumultuously slog your way through every cup and challenge and somehow coerce even a glimmer of enjoyment out of what’s there, it’ll all be over before you know it. Following that, Winter Sports 2012 supports multiplayer for up to four players, with races taking place via split-screen while the remaining events employ a play and pass mechanic, forcing the people that you claim to hold in high regard to sit and watch as you oafishly and helplessly attempt to perform well, perhaps crying a little inside while they do so.
Had the accompanying nine disciplines proven to be as inoffensively playable as the ski jump event, Winter Sports 2012: Feel the Spirit would have been a serviceable and adequately entertaining collection of sports minigames. As it stands though, what we have here is nothing short of a travesty. It’s an ugly and uncompromisingly detestable assemblage of poorly recreated winter sporting events that has no business even existing. If you purchase and subsequently subject yourself to Winter Sports 2012, then you have nobody to blame but yourself. You have been warned.