As with all new Nintendo consoles it was only a matter of time before someone dipped into the sweet honey of the casual sports title. ESPN unleashes a sports six-pack of multiplayer fun, but is this a revamped version of Wii Sports or just over priced shovelware?
After ZombiU and Assassin’s Creed III quietly went into the night I have had a strange desire to see if the Wii U can emulate the Wii glory days. In particular to see what it could do with the casual genre. New hardware and an a potentially exciting new gamepad could bring some interesting depth to a genre Nintendo has always shined in. Ubisoft seems to agree by releasing its own accessible title, Sports Connection.
Sports Connection offers soccer, baseball, kart racing, American football, golf and tennis. All can be played with or against friends, which is advisable as computer AI is like playing against quadrapledrics without wheelchairs.
The presentation is average at best. No real excitement is displayed, the menus are functional at best showing nothing more than a simple image of each sport, making it feel more like a downloadable title than a full price experience.
Tennis is a complete waste of time. Even with motion controls it feels slow and awkward. Players have almost no control over their location on the court, plus your character almost clips into range when playing a shot reiterating that the computer is in control of about 60 % of the experience.
Kart racing just feels limp, with no real excitement to be had. You’ll edge around the track in limbo as speed (unbelievably) is never really a factor and the courses are bland and simple, think Mario Kart on Valium. Alternatively, Golf is very well constructed. The detail is crisp and you can use the gamepad as a map to help you line up shots. However, be ready for a super steep learning curve. By the third hole the game expects you to be on top of how to play.
Soccer was fun if not a little over simplified and be sure to bring friends to play with as the AI will literally kick own goals or ignore a game in play sometimes. Baseball is worth a few laughs. Mainly as you can draw crazy untouchable pitches using the gamepad. Batting using a motion plus controls is a hoot , surprisingly accurate and perfect for those long drinking nights with mates or for a spot of early morning exercise.
American football was by far my favourite, Separated into two halves the game involves both attack and defense. Fans of the sport may feel the translation is a little awkward as it’s basically just strategising, tackling and passing. This translates to an insane amount of fun for n00bs to the sport like myself.
Overall the pack is a let down. None of the sports come off as anything more than a distraction and the lack of creative energy is palpable. Fans of arcade titles will probably enjoy this, but the it sadly fails to replicate the same feeling that Nintendo’s Wii Sports offered. Sports Connection needed to offer more than this to warrant its full asking price. Save your money.