The original Deca Sports was a big success for Hudson, as it shipped and sold loads of copies. There was room for improvement though, and Hudson was aware of this–the first title may have been a little too casual focused, and much of the core audience and many critics were displeased with that fact as expected. For the sequel, Hudson has included 10 sports, and has done their best to include ones that are not found elsewhere on the system while also making the game more appealing to both casual and core audiences.
The demo has four of these 10 sports included–ice hockey, darts, petanque, and dodge ball. You play as a character that is meant to be Hudson’s version of a Mii, but looks more like a Microsoft avatar in its appearance. There are multiple teams to choose from, each with its own personality and some differences that could be important depending on the game, like the size of your players.
Ice hockey is split into halves rather than thirds, but there’s also an option for sudden death overtime included. Ice hockey is fast-paced, since most of the game is passing to your teammates, slamming into opponents on defense with a motion of the Wii Remote (that never stops being satisfying, no matter the sports game) or going for one-timers to get past the goalie, which is controlled by the AI rather than the player. My one complaint with hockey is that the motion for checking your opponents and for a pass is the same, meaning that if you steal the puck before you get a chance to hit the guy holding it, you might accidentally pass it off immediately. That might be more on my end than on Deca Sports 2, but it’s something to keep an eye on when you play. Also, this game has the kind of one-timer success that made games like NHL ’94 so much fun back in the day, meaning that you will have some high scoring games. Try to go easy on grandma there, champ.
Darts takes some practice, but it’s rewarding once you get the hang of it. You have to hold the Wii Remote like a dart and simulate a throwing motion, but you need to keep the IR on it straight so that it doesn’t go flying off to the side of the dartboard. Countdown is the mode included in the demo, but there are a few different versions of darts you can play. Don’t be discouraged when you can’t get near the bulls-eye during the first few rounds–by the end, both myself and the person I played against were hitting the spots we wanted to with much more regularity. In fact, I screwed myself over by being more accurate than I planned when I hit bust and lost all of the points I had accrued that round.
Petanque is a French game and a version of boules that has you tossing a jack in a specific area, and then throwing metal balls as close as you can to said jack. You can throw from a crouching or standing position, and your throw distance is determined by the speed and force of your Wii Remote motions. This can make for some fun matches given the accuracy a petanque amateur like myself can exhibit, as you can hit the jack of your opponent’s balls in order to secure more points for you. The throwing works well, but if you need to go through some practice throws before tossing, you can. Thankfully there’s also a progress bar that is color coordinated, so you know that if the jack is over in the orange area, you need to get your throw around that to get close. It’s a simple addition, but it makes for a big boost in accuracy.
Last, we have dodge ball, which is my personal favorite from the collection. Hudson used international rules for dodge ball, so when one of your five teammates is hit by the ball and called out, he or she just goes to the outside of the regular playing area, where they are now able to throw the ball and pass it to your other teammates in order to nail your opponents upside the head. You can catch the ball by pressing Z and B at the same time, and if you manage to catch a ball that bounced off a teammate’s noggin before it hits the ground, you can keep them from being thrown out and take possession of the ball as well. Diving out of the way of the ball is as simple as motioning with the Wii Remote, but be warned: you can’t just spam dodging rolls, as you need to get up off of the ground before you can perform another. If you do it wrong, you will get caught in a dodge ball crossfire. This is definitely the most fun, especially since the dynamic of the game changes as more players are put on the sidelines to throw the ball, making things that much more difficult for the target that now sticks out like a sore thumb.
Deca Sports 2 is looking to be an improvement over the original, which was a success with a particular group of consumers. Hudson would like everyone to dig Deca Sports the same way that everyone is into Wii Sports, and things look like they could be heading in that direction based on the time I’ve spent with it. We’ll have more information on the title as it releases though, so be sure to check back.