Finally, the Sepak Takraw simulator you've been looking for.
The Deca Sports franchise, one seemingly based on capitalizing on the success of Wii Sports, has come to a new platform: one completely free of the series' motion-controlled roots. Whereas the previous games in the seriesfocused on imitating the motions of various sports, Deca Sports DS has you using either the stylus or traditional controls to mixed results. While some of the games feel natural with the assigned control scheme, others misstep badly. The end result is an uneven, though deep, gaming experience.
Deca Sports DS contains 10 sports to choose from: Arm Wrestling, Wall Climbing, Clay Shooting, Cheerleading, Sky Diving, Golf and Ping Pong all use the stylus for control, whereas, Bobsled, Rugby and Sepak Takraw require use of the D-pad and buttons. The game has four difficulty levels for each sports (Beginner, Amateur, Pro, and Legend) and multiple modes. It also supports up-to-six players via single-card multiplayer, which is a fantastic accomplishment. Although I was unable to test six-player multiplayer, I did try out two-player multiplayer and the game allowed you to choose your team, and performed admirably and without noticeable lag. Depite boasting six-player multiplayer, some of the games are clearly geared toward two-player play, such as Ping Pong or Arm Wrestling. As I was unable to test six-player multiplayer, I cannot say for sure if these sports support more than two-player multiplayer.
If you're playing the game alone, you have quite a few options. First, you can pick both a single sport and difficulty level, and play a single game. The higher difficulty levels must be unlocked via League play, as only Beginner is available at first. League play has you playing all 10 sports using your chosen team, and earning points for each event, similar to how a cup is played in Mario Kart. If you have the most points after all 10 sports, then you are the winner of the cup, and the next difficulty level is unlocked. If League Play doesn't interest you, the next option is Tournament mode, where you can play a single sport against several computer opponents of increasing difficulty. Finally, a Challenge mode is available for each sport, which acts as a single mini-game based off of the sport. These are mere high score challenges, meant to break up the monotony of the other modes. Some of these are actually more fun than the sport they're based on, as they offer a quicker game experience, and breaking your own high scores is often more fun than trying to defeat a computer opponent.
The game comes prepackaged with six teams, each containing six members of varying size. There are also six slots for created teams. The character creator, while not incredibly deep, allows you to customize your on-screen avatar, which brings a nice touch of personality to the game as you play. The different sizes for each team member boil down to small, medium, and large, and the performance you'll get from each game differs depending on the size of the player.
As a package, this game gives you plenty to do. As illustrated above, the game contains three separate single-player modes, and a robust multiplayer mode. If you find the content of the individual games entertaining, then you'll more or less enjoy Deca Sports DS. Unfortunately, some of the them are either too simple, too difficult, or too frustrating to enjoy. I found about half of themto be truly enjoyable gameplay experiences that related well to the choice of controls. While that's not a particularly great batting average, that's par for the course with any mini-game collection.
Of the 10 games included, I found Wall Climbing to be the easiest. The game relies on just a quick tap on either the left or right side of the touch screen, depending on which direction your character needed to reach to climb next. The most difficult game was Sepak Takraw, a game which combines volleyball and soccer. My characters would often miss a return for seemingly no reason, and after I started playing on anything but the easiest difficulty, the computer never seemed to lose a single point.
Another miss is Cheerleading, which mechanically feels like Elite Beat Agents, but instead of tapping directly into the targets, you merely mimic them on the screen below while music plays that doesn't quite follow the beat. I spent most of the Cheerleading game confounded as to why I was missing the pattern sometimes, but not others.
Clay Shooting had an interesting take on firing a rifle; instead of tapping a button or double-tapping the stylus to fire your gun as you aimed using the touch screen, the game asks that you violently jerk your stylus upwards, simulating the kickback you'd feel with an actual rifle. At first I hated this technique, but then I got used to the idea and I found myself getting very high scores in Clay Shooting. In fact, Clay Shooting might be the single most accurate game in the entire package in terms of the feel of the actual sport that the game means to replicate.
Deca Sports DS does pretty well for itself in terms of presentation, giving full 3D environments for each sport, including a dual-camera introduction before each game. While the graphics are far from realistic, and the sound design in the game is unremarkable, the visual style is fairly distinctive and it's pretty clear that there was real effort put into the way the game was presented.
In the end, the amount of enjoyment you get from the game will depend largely on finding sports that you want to come back to over and over again. With 10 selections, it's likely that you'll find something that appeals to you, but if you only find a few sports that you like, you're only getting a small percentage of the game that you spent your hard-earned money for. With the control issues that some of these games have, you'll probably have to play Deca Sports DS quite a few times just to decide if you like any of them at all.