Sensible use of Wii controls helps MLE go down smooth. Video included.
WiiWare continues to promise more and more wackiness from unexpected directions, and that's something that Mastiff is embracing fully with this game. In what other game, or sport, could you expect to swallow and belch your way to victory?
There are three basic components to the gameplay of competitive eating, which is played with just the Wii Remote. Your mouth is represented in a diagram on the upper part of the screen and the cursor moves back and forth across it. When the cursor highlights a section of your mouth with food in it, you press the B Trigger to chew and swallow it. If you press B when there's no food available in a section of your mouth, you'll "bite your tongue" causing you to lose time as well as the game emitting a slightly discomfiting yelp of pain. This is critical, because lost time means less food eaten, which is the ultimate determiner for who wins the match.
The next major portion of the game is getting the food from the plate to your mouth. This uses the Wii Remote in any of three unique gestures based on the food type that the competition revolves around. For foods like hot dogs, you lift the Wii Remote all the way up to your mouth. For sushi, you need to “toss” them into your mouth with small jerks of the wrist. With corn, you need to move the Wii Remote left and right in a typewriter motion to cram more food into your mouth. It's a good use of motion-sensor gameplay that feels just right.
During the eating competition, you have a stomach meter on the bottom of the screen that slowly fills up. If it gets full, the resulting digestive pyrotechnics will forfeit the match for you. Not only do you have to be sure not to eat too fast or stuff food in your mouth when it's already full, but periodically you'll need to hold and and shake the Wii Remote back and forth to bring the acid level in your stomach to a comfortable level. This will cause your character to do a sort of funny shimmy on screen, which is an actual competitive eating technique to compact food in the stomach.
Major League Eating: The Game in action. Here you can see a competitive eat-off.
Periodically, a minigame triggers to throw more variety in a player's battle plans. Hot potato is exactly what it sounds like. A potato is tossed back and forth between two players by pressing the B Trigger until it blows up and inconveniences the one who ended up with it in his hands. Burp-offs show both characters spewing different colored gases from their mouths, with players shaking their Wii Remotes rapidly to force the belch coming out of their mouth to overpower their opponent's. The burp-off is also the tie-breaker mechanic for when two players end up tied after a match.
Special items appear on the table while eating, which can be grabbed by being the first to eat a food item after it pops up. These items can unleash farts or fire breath at your opponent and raise their stomach meter, bringing them closer to regurgitation; or flip the food tray around to shield items and protect your stomach. You can have two items at a time, which are activated by pressing left or right on the D-Pad. Some attacks can attack other attacks, like using fire breath to ignite your opponent's fart.
All of this adds up to a pretty crazy two-player competitive face-off, which is what most attendees played at the summit. There is also a single-player story campaign where the player will take on each of the other characters in the game in order. There are as many as nine playable characters, plus boss and secret characters. Each of these computer opponents will have different AI strategies to win, like causing the player to overfill their stomach meter or by simply out-eating them.
With a variety of food items, a roster of real life competitive eaters, and burp-offs, Major League Eating surprisingly went beyond being an out-of-left-field idea to being an engrossing (or just gross) experience whenever two players were at hand.