EA’s mini-game collection wants to take your inner child on the road.
Video games have come a long way over the last thirty years (give or take). It can be easy to slip away into worlds of fantasy, political intrigue, or complex military tactics, but this Fall EA Canada wants to prove that nothing is more fun than a simple schoolyard game. EA Playground is a collection of straightforward games most players will remember having played in their formative elementary school years. Developed in conjunction with a waggle-enhanced Wii version, the DS game will feature nine familiar playground classics like dodgeball, hopscotch, and a spitball contest. EA Playground is aiming to keep your inner child entertained with a bevy of unique controls and multiplayer options to keep you amused until Mom calls you in for dinner.
EA Playground’s collection of featured recess favorites is loosely organized around a young elementary school student wandering through a schoolyard and entering into various games with other students. Winning each given mini-game challenge will yield specific stickers or marbles which can be used to unlock additional games and challenges to help you achieve the vaunted title of Playground King. Many of the games are shared with the Wii version, including Dodgeball, Kicks (a variation on volleyball played only with the feet), Hoops (a basketball shootout), and bug hunting. In addition there are five games unique to the DS version, designed specifically for the portable experience. These are Hopscotch, RC Racers (an overhead racing game featuring tiny remote controlled cars), Skate and Stretch (a rhythm-based game that has players connecting dots in-time to do tricks), Spitballs, and Trampoline.
EA hopes to match the casual and approachable design of the game’s content with a similarly intuitive control setup that takes advantage of the DS’s unique input possibilities. Dodgeball, for instance, is controlled entirely with the stylus. The player’s team appears on the bottom screen and the opposing team is on the top screen. Players will point to a spot on the court where their characters will move (think Animal Crossing: Wild World or Zelda: Phantom Hourglass) and then tap the “throw zone" to hurl the ball at the other team. A well-timed tap can be used to swat away an in-coming ball and bring back a previously knocked-out teammate. In Spitballs, players use the stylus to move an FPS-style aiming reticule around screen and then blow into the microphone to fire a spitball at enemies. For Skate and Stretch, you’ll watch your character on a halfpipe where each time he or she shoots into the air, a series of numbered dots appear on the touchscreen. You’ll have to connect all the dots in numerical order before your character lands to avoid a nasty wipeout. The more tricks your character pulls off, the more numbers will be required to land each successive trick.
Visually, the DS version will look fairly similar to the Wii version, sporting the same chibi-esque art style that is more than a little reminiscent of the just-released My Sims. EA Playground will support up to four players in a local multiplayer mode, but requires each player to have their own cartridge. There are no plans to support Wi-Fi play. Sorry kids, you’ll have to keep your friend codes in your pockets for this one. There won’t be any added DS/Wii connectivity for zealous playground pro’s who happen to pick up both versions of the game.
Make sure to finish your homework early because EA Playground ships in just a few weeks. Expect to conquer the playground in North America on October 22, and in Europe on November 2.