It's just like elementary school, but without the homework!
EA Playground is Electronic Arts' attempt to bring a casual games alternative to Wii Sports. NWR recently got some time with the game at EA's pre-E3 event last month, and now we can bring you all we know about it thus far.
The main focus of EA Playground will be multiplayer gaming with a variety of playground-style games. Confirmed games include dodgeball, tetherball, slot-car racing, RC car racing and dart shootout. The games will use the features of the Wii remote in ways that are relevant, such as driving slot-cars by holding the Wii remote on its side. There will be a single player mode centered around playground exploration, item collection, and game challenges, but EA stressed that the game was designed from the start to be a multiplayer party-style game for the Wii.
Every game will have customizable rules, and judging by the options available from dodgeball (the only game available to play; see our impressions) there will be many to choose from. In that game mode, you can change the number of players on each team, the number of balls on the court, regeneration rules, time limit, score limit, and at least three or four different settings. If you prefer one way of playing over another, it looks like the game won't get in your way if you want to go crazy with it.
EA Playground does not include support for online features, nor does it include Mii integration. Although developer EA Canada could have included Mii avatars, the game has a kid-friendly style of its own and adding Miis to the mix would have made things inconsistent.
A DS version of EA Playground is also planned. It will have different games than the Wii version to better take advantage of the unique features of the handheld. For example, there will be a spitball game where you need to “spit" into the DS microphone to do the dirty work. The DS version of the game has not been shown to the public as of yet, so nothing more is known about it.
Finally, there are no plans to integrate the Wii and DS versions, at least for this year. EA is looking to make EA Playground a recurring series, so once Nintendo makes it clearer how the Wii and DS will interact with each other, we may see some connection between future EA Playground games.
EA Playground is set for release this fall. If new details emerge from E3, we'll let you know.