A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Deca Sports is a collection of accessible sport simulations. It's good, clean fun for the whole family, and can be played in groups of up to four players. It provides a diverse selection of playable athletes from which to choose; both genders are represented, along with varying body types and races. Younger players may glean some insight into the rules and objectives of a few relatively uncommon sports, including curling and archery.
What's it about?
DECA SPORTS crams 10 sports, ranging from the popular (basketball and soccer) to the somewhat obscure (archery and curling), into a single game. Each sport has been condensed and simplified; it takes just a few minutes to learn how to play using intuitive motion sensitive controls that mimic the physical actions of each sport, and some events take less than 60 seconds to complete. Players begin by selecting one of eight teams composed of five members who have varying abilities -- some are fast, some are strong, some are all-around athletes -- then determine the specific members they want to use in each event as they play through a variety of modes.
Is it any good?
Wii Sports, the popular sports anthology game bundled with every Nintendo Wii, has spawned no shortage of cheap imitators, but Deca Sports stands above the rest in several ways. For starters, it provides a depth unmatched by other games of its ilk, thanks to the plethora of modes in which it can be played. There are open matches, leagues, tournaments, and mini-game challenges, not to mention fun, four-player play. Plus, its polished motion sensitive controls are both intuitive and well calibrated; the game registers your movements correctly far more often than not--a rarity among the typically low budget, hastily thrown together games often found in the sports compilation genre.
Deca Sports' downfall, unfortunately, are the sports that developer Hudson Soft decided to include in the game's roster. Some of the less common sports--curling and figure skating, in particular--are a blast, in large part because they represent a rare opportunity to try a sport most of us have never taken part in before, in real life or in a game. However, the more popular sports covered here, such as soccer, snowboarding, kart racing, basketball, and motocross, have all been done better in games dedicated to just that sport. In comparison, Deca Sports' simplistic simulations seem lackluster and some players may grow tired of them in mere minutes. The game may have fared better had it stuck with less familiar sports, like, say, lawn bowling, diving, or petanque. It's worth trying if you're interested in learning the rules and strategy of a game like curling, but it's safe to say it won't be the most frequently played game in your Wii collection.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the degree to which the game's motion sensitive controls mimic the physical actions of the real-world games upon which they are based. Does moving the remote up and then down accurately reflect the motions involved in serving a volleyball? Does pulling the remote toward you and releasing a button imitate the act of drawing a bow and loosing an arrow? You can also discuss whether the game's depiction of less common sports like curling and figure skating is compelling enough to make you want to try them in real life. Are they sufficiently engaging to warrant their own, dedicated video game?
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