A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this collection of family-friendly mini-games is similar to most other Wii party games in its presentation. The digital representations of real world activities such as bocce ball, mini-golf, and shuffleboard can be safely viewed by even very young children, and play is simple enough that people of virtually all ages and skill levels will be able to get the hang of things relatively quickly. Note, though, that the controls for some activities are finicky and can be prove frustrating for players both young and old.
What's it about?
The latest party game collection for the Wii is the awkwardly dubbed ISLAND SPORTS PARTY: SUMMER SPORTS 2, a sequel to last year's shallow and lackluster Summer Sports: Paradise Island. This follow-up offers a bit more diversity than its predecessor, delivering 12 mini-games spanning seven sports, each with multiple skill settings, play modes, and awards.
The only returning activities are Mini-Golf and Basketball—or, more precisely, five different kinds of basketball, ranging from a dunking contest to HORSE. New sports include bocce ball, target football (in which players toss pigskins at pop-up bull's-eyes), soccer, archery, and shuffleboard—both the classic game as well as a variation that plays vaguely like bowling. Like most games of this ilk, Summer Sports 2 is safe for consumption by all ages, though some of the games are complex enough (and their controls sufficiently finicky) that they could aggravating for younger players.
Is it any good?
A quartet of entertaining activities can be found among Summer Sports 2's dozen mini-games. Bocce ball is a faithful recreation of the classic backyard ball tossing game and features intuitive motion sensitive controls. Archery is similarly enjoyable, requiring a degree of skill in judging distance and wind, while the short and fast-paced target football challenges can prove surprisingly exciting. And an innovative slam dunk competition, which has players moving their remotes and nunchuks in accordance with onscreen cues to execute spectacular baskets before being judged by a panel of rocks, is sufficiently different from all of the other events to act as a nice change of pace.
However, for each fun game there are a couple of failures. Computer-controlled opponents in most of the basketball games are remarkably inept, and the motion controls for the shuffleboard games are annoyingly insensitive. Mini-golf is passably entertaining the first couple of rounds, but the holes start to feel too easy too quickly. And Summer Sports 2's version of soccer is, unfortunately, just too simple to satisfy anyone with a passion for the Beautiful Game. When it comes to party game collections, we're almost always provided a grab bag of good and bad. Four fun games out of 12 might be acceptable in a budget title with a $20 tag, but Summer Sports 2's suggested price of $40 makes it one of the more expensive games in the genre. Wait for the bargain bin.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about avatars in games. Summer Sports 2's player characters span both genders and a wide variety of ethnic groups, from Hispanic to Indian. Do you prefer your onscreen character to be similar to you in appearance? Does it bother you when avatar options are limited in scope? Think about the video games you have played -- what nationality are most heros and heroines?
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