The previous Deca Sports games are precisely the kind of thing that drives "gaming journalists" crazy. They are visibly, obviously flawed in multiple ways, and they apparently sell like crack. In their defense, every game so far has contained a full 10 sports-based minigames, which cover some of the ground that the <I>Wii Sports series hasn't touched. In each Deca Sports title, two to four of these games are competitive, entertaining sports-based matchups that hit the ideal Wii user sweet spot: They take 10 seconds to learn, and they're fun for the whole family.
The other six to eight games vaguely qualify for the use of the descriptive noun. They aren't games so much as they're a sort of interactive tech demo; they're "simple" to the point where they require almost no thought or input from the player. They're perfect in case you're trying to get your Amish relatives into video games, but anyone who's played a game since Super Mario is instantly and automatically bored.
In Deca Sports 3, for example, lacrosse is an example of the former game type; it's multiplayer-friendly, online-enabled six-on-six lacrosse, with next to no learning curve and surprisingly entertaining gameplay. You can tune the computer's AI anywhere from "barely sentient" to "plotting to steal nuclear launch codes," and shooting a goal involves one button and a quick Wiimote gesture. On the other hand, there's stuff like log cutting, the air race, or snowboarding on the half-pipe, which are very simple tests of timing.
The big feature this time out, though, is the inclusion of Wii MotionPlus compatibility, which basically turns the game on its ear. Without the Wii MotionPlus, in Normal mode, each game is sort of heavily and automatically compensated for by the controls. Doing snowboard tricks involves one Wiimote motion; flying your plane through the red gates in the air race is as simple as holding down the B button. Anyone can do it.
If you have a Wii MotionPlus, you can turn on Master mode, which gets rid of all the shortcuts and handholding and makes every event entirely dependent upon your input. The downhill slalom goes from sedate and calm to a nearly surgical process, like threading a needle. The air race becomes like some kind of remote-control Zen plane, absolutely responsive to your controls. It's like having a "hardcore" mode for a very casual game.
There are 10 sports in Deca Sports 3, as the title may suggest: air racing, competitive log cutting, diving, downhill slalom, fencing, indoor volleyball, kayaking, lacrosse, racquetball and snowboard tricks on a half-pipe. The game's focus is strictly on multiplayer, to the point where a couple of the games cannot be played alone. Fencing, lacrosse, racquetball and volleyball can all also be played online.
Hudson's gotten some surprisingly big numbers with Deca Sports, despite the hilariously bad reviews, and I can see why. They'd almost do better to release the minigames as WiiWare titles. As it is, it's like you're paying $30 for the one or two games you really like. I'm not the market for this game, and if you're reading this site, odds are good that you aren't, either. Your family members, on the other hand, will probably have a blast.
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