I'm surprised that there aren't more Wii Sports clones in the world. Given the huge success of both Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, the simple formula of throwing together a mishmash of mini-games should've been repeated thousands of times by now. Thankfully that isn't the case as only a few clones have emerged with the Deca Sports series being one of the few to find actual success with gamers. While we critics haven't enjoyed the titles all that much, Hudson Soft is hoping to change all that with their latest, Deca Sports 3.
The third installment (fourth if you include the DS version) follows a familiar trend in that it delivers a collection of ten "sporting" events for one to four players. I say "sporting" because I don't consider log cutting or air racing a sport, but they're here nonetheless. Other activities include snowboarding, giant slalom, kayaking, lacrosse, fencing, and volleyball among a few others. All of these games have two modes of play. There's Normal and there's Master Mode. While it isn't described all that well, Master Mode is actually for Wii MotionPlus users only and is my preferred mode of play. After all, why would you want to deal with the frustration and general limitations of the standard Wii Remote?
My favorite of the events actually didn't rely on Wii MotionPlus to provide its fair share of fun. I know that it sounds strange, but lacrosse was actually pretty damn fun. The concept is simple: players shake the Wii Remote to both shoot and pass, the only difference is that B must be held to charge up your shot's power. Maneuvering your player is done with the Nunchuk's analog stick and switching players is done with the Z button. There are annoyances when trying to target the proper friendly player to make a pass, but I still found this mini-game to be the most enjoyable of the lot.
Others, like log cutting and air racing, were too finicky when it came to properly controlling your movements. In log cutting, I was constantly losing time for trying to anticipate the movement of the saw. Rather than trying to think ahead of the game, I had to instead follow the exact on-screen instructions with little space for error. Air racing, while it did provide for some obvious differences from non-Wii MotionPlus to Wii MotionPlus, the event itself is pretty boring, even in multiplayer.
Other events like giant slalom and snowboarding don't feel much like the genuine. I think adding Wii Balance Board support would've gone a long way for both events, and I hope it's something that can be included before this game ships in late-October. I also feel like the Wii MotionPlus support could be tightened up considerably before launch. Fencing doesn't feel as accurate as it should given what I've seen from Wii Sports Resort's fencing option. Racquetball, volleyball, kayaking, and springboard diving were all still locked in my preview build, so I can't comment on how those performed.
From my time with Deca Sports 3, I'd say the game is stacking up very similarly to the first entries in the series. Wii MotionPlus support is a nice addition, but they really need to tighten it up and make it more useful and responsive than what I played. If you were a fan of the first two Deca Sports titles on Wii, I'd say Deca Sports 3 will be right up your alley when it launches on October 26.