Should everybody be moving their bodies to this title?
They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. In that case, Nintendo's Wii Sports must be more than flattered. Hudson's Deca Sports series has been playing off the success of that game for a while now, and despite receiving mixed reactions from the media and gaming fans, it has been successful enough that the franchise has seen various sequels and spin-offs, including one for the recently launched Kinect. This year's edition of Deca Sports for the Wii adds new sports and MotionPlus support. Unfortunately, all the new features in the world can't hide the fact that this is a mediocre effort.
As Deca Sports 3 proudly states on its box cover, there are ten new sporting events in this year's game: Air Race, Lacrosse, Slalom Skiing, Springboard Diving, Indoor Volleyball, Racquetball, Kayaking, Logging, Halfpipe Snowboarding, and Fencing. As expected, these are compressed versions of their real world counterparts. Unlike the efforts of Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, the events in Deca Sports 3 are very technical, requiring a lot of timing in many of the events. To help players learn the events, there are good, detailed tutorials for each one.
The way these games are designed are often hit and miss. Racquetball, for example, is all about timing. While the sport in real life is about how and when to swing your racquet, in Deca Sports 3, the event feels a lot like a timing mini-game where you aren't truly in control of your character. The same problem lies within Volleyball's gameplay.
Meanwhile, Fencing is mainly about flailing your Wii Remote in order to land a hit, requiring very little strategy except moving back and forth. Lacrosse can be best described as a simplified Mario Strikers Charged clone. Most of the events have been done better in games such as Wii Sports Resort and Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, so their inclusion in this title feels derivative and poorly executed.
Deca Sports 3 does excel at having a variety of options and game modes. There are eight different teams to choose from, all with unique stats. There is also the option to create a team, which allows you to create each individual team member. There is a tournament mode for each event, and a league mode where four teams compete in all ten events. Lastly, there are challenges that require you to play through the events and complete specific requirements.
Of course, it wouldn't be a party sports game without a multiplayer mode for each event locally. Deca Sports 3 also offers online play using Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Players can either choose Free Play or play with their friends if they have registered their Friend Codes. Unfortunately, only four events can be chosen for online play, and at the time of this review it was very hard to find an online match.
The worst part of the game is the controls. There are two main control methods: Normal (just the Wii Remote) and Master (Wii MotionPlus required). With just the Wii Remote, the game controls well enough, often being all about timed flicks of the controller and basic tilting features. Even then, there are times in which the game doesn't pick up on the movement, often saying that you swung the controller too late or too early. But the game at the very least is playable. The MotionPlus controls, to put it bluntly, are awful. They often make even the simplest events very hard to enjoy. Air Race and Kayaking are too sensitive to the tilting motions, while the MotionPlus enhancements were hardly noticeable in events like Lacrosse.
In terms of presentation, Deca Sports 3 sports a very clean and slick look for its menus. The Mii-like characters are very soulless, lacking a lot of charm and personality. You can alter their looks, but their appeal remains boring. The music is serviceable, but nothing too memorable. Overall, the whole presentation can be summed as uninspired and forgettable.
There's no denying it, Nintendo's Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort remain the champion of motion-controlled sports games on the Wii. No matter how many modes the game claims to have, Deca Sports 3 is too poorly designed to be entertaining, and when your standard motion controls are better than the enhanced MotionPlus controls, something is horribly wrong here.