Sports Champions is to the PlayStation Move just like Wii Sports is to the Nintendo Wii. It’s basically a full fledged title that comes packaged with the peripheral in order to give gamers a taste of what the product is capable of. Sports Champions comes packed with six different sports and features a pretty lengthy challenge tree for each individual competition. Surprisingly enough, the game is deep and does take a serious amount of time to play through.
This past week, Sports Champions received DLC during the PlayStation Store update, so that means Sony has no qualms with extending the lifespan and enjoyment factor of the title as well. While the one thing Sports Champions lacks is actual in-game emotion and excitement, it still manages to do exactly what the development team intended and that is show off what the Move can do for your gaming experiences.
In this review, I’m going to break down each mini-game sports package and let you know how it plays on an overall level. Before I begin, you should know that each sport has 3 levels of competition and you must beat each level before moving on to the next. There are also challenge levels within each “Cup Level” you can compete in as well.
The goal behind disc golf is to get your frisbee from point A to point B in a predetermined amount of shots in order to beat your AI opponent or another player. It’s played exactly like golf except with a disc (frisbee) and each player is given three types of disc to choose from. One disc is designed for distance, but no accuracy, another is for medium distance with slightly more accuracy, and the last is for short distance but is extremely accurate.
During play, you have the opportunity to take part in various environments surrounded by forests, snow, and other hazards. Unfortunately, the game is extremely unrealistic in how the disc interacts with its surroundings. For example, I once fell shy of the target by a good 200 yards, but the disc managed to slide in the grass and dirt for another 175 yards to put me just outside of the goal. Obviously in real life this would never happen and considering the visuals and physics of the title, you’d expect something like this to not be a regular occurrence in the title, but it is.
The coolest aspect of Disc Golf for me was the ability to handle the disc any way I liked. Unlike disc golf for the Wii, you’re capable of holding the disc high or low, and can rotate it to achieve any desired angle as well. Upon throwing the disc, it will take flight depending on how you were holding it and the amount of power behind the throw. This display of realism is a nice touch to the game and help brings it to another level. While Disc Golf isn’t my favorite sports game this title has to offer, it’s definitely not the worst either.
Gladiator is exactly what you’d expect it to be. If you’ve seen the stylish movie with Russell Crowe, you’re pretty much set on what to expect. One player duels another player with weapon+shield until there is a clear victor. Unfortunately, while Gladiator is one of the more enjoyable titles in the game, it’s also the most frustrating to play with a friend depending on the space provided. Considering all of the movements are nearly, if not, 1:1; it means you need a ton of free space to swing your sword, mallet, etc… With a friend side-by-side, it’s quite easy to accidentally strike the other player outside of the game and that’s always going to be an issue.
However, playing against the CPU is a blast. If you own two Move controllers, this experience is heightened even more and is taken to that next level. As you start to defeat CPU opponents one after the other, it becomes more challenging and more enjoyable as well. Sadly, the environments aren’t as varied as I’d like to see, but it doesn’t hinder the playing experience what-so-ever. Also — I’m not sure if this is just me or not, but this game does seem to be a tad repetitive in what the CPU will allow you to do and what it won’t. You kind of have to live and die by the low attack as the AI seems to continually block anything from the waist up unless you bash with your shield first.
In the end, Gladiator is a great way to show off what the PlayStation Move can achieve, but it’s still not my favorite game on the disc.
Sore arms should be expected when you take up Archery and on the PlayStation Move it’s no different. After playing Archery for two to three hours the other day, both of my arms felt wrecked and I was ready to take a solid break from the game. The accuracy of the Move helps bring Archery to that next level and actually gives you the feeling as though you’re really competing in the sport. There are also a slew of different styles of play within this mode that makes it probably the deepest title Sports Champions has to offer.
Whether you’re playing with standard targets or tic-tac-toe against an opponent, Archery is definitely a work out. Some of the challenges mid-Cup level are also very fun to take part in. For example, the first challenge has you fend off what I like to call — pirate zombies — as they make their way to you. By blasting them in skull, they blow up and hitting them anywhere else just slows them down. This was easily one of my favorite challenges the game had to offer and I actually found myself continually replaying it to try and best my previous mark.
To me, Archery shines brightest against another real life opponent though as the AI is quite easy to beat through a lot of the stages. It does get more difficult towards the end, but by the time you get to that point you may have already given up. One of the more satisfying things within Archery is splitting your arrows on the target as well. Overall, Archery is easily in the Top 2 games that Sports Champions has to offer. The other top game is Bocce and I’ll get to that one soon.
Volleyball is a 2-on-2 outdoor affair and features limited game mechanics and limited environments. I’m not sure why, but I feel Volleyball has the most potential to be fun in Sports Champions but ended up falling short of my expectations. The controls aren’t as responsive in figuring out what you want to do and sometimes force you to make the type of play that you don’t want to make. If there is an opportunity to spike the volleyball, sometimes the game forces you to set your teammate up instead and doesn’t even give you the option to go for the spike at all.
While the game does have great mechanics in general and in theory, this lack of total control is what makes it feel very limiting. It’s almost as though you aren’t really playing the game itself, but the game is just playing you. Despite this, I do enjoy playing Volleyball with a friendly teammate or opponent, but also feel that Volleyball missed the mark by so much I’m not sure what to say about it.
As far as reaction and movement go, Volleyball, like the other titles, moves at a realistic 1:1 pace and does what you’d like it to do. It just doesn’t live up to the freedom of movement like the other titles and that is a big disappointment in the end.
Bocce is pretty much curling without the ice and you have the ability to move the target. At the start of each match one contestant will throw the target ball down the field in order to create a target point. Players then toss their balls to see who can land the closest and who can get the most balls inside the closest perimeter of the other player’s closest ball. This means you can either score one point for the closest to the target or you can score multiple points.
This was one of my favorite titles to play because it was simple, fun with friends, and very competitive. There is also a definite strategy involved as well because you have the opportunity to strike the targeted ball in order to move it in your favor at any time. Some of the courses plotted out within the game are also very interesting featuring giant plane propellers and odd shapes. It definitely brings out the challenging side of the title.
If you’re looking to throw back a couple of beers and just have fun with some friends, Bocce is definitely the best title available on Sports Champions. There is room for trash talk and bragging rights galore. Some people may not feel the same way I do about this one, but I definitely think Bocce alone is worth picking Sports Champions up for.
This may be hard to believe, but Table Tennis is the one game that had the most potential, but ultimately failed ridiculously hard because of how accurate the game truly is. That isn’t to say that it is too difficult or if you don’t know how to play Table Tennis, you will struggle. That isn’t the case at all. The issue I take with Table Tennis is that the depth field is far too accurate for the game to truly be enjoyable. This is another example of space coming into play and ruining the experience.
In Table Tennis if you move your Move forward or pull it back, your paddle on the screen does the same motion. This is how you react to shots that come your way close to the net or off the table. Unfortunately for some (if not most), this means you’re always trying to reach forward and step back to make a play. Due to space limitations in most apartments and bedrooms, that makes Table Tennis nearly unplayable to an extent. It’s still possible, it just isn’t as fun and entertaining as it honestly should be.
There are obviously going to be some of you who largely disagree with this assessment, but it’s definitely something I ran into with living in an apartment opened to having a wide open living room in a larger house. If you somehow have found a way around this issue, I’d love to hear how in the comment section below.