This is the Move's flagship title -- its "Wii Sports," if you will, and in more ways than one. Sports Champions
is a collection of titles aimed at showcasing the controller's potential, culled largely from tech demos we've seen
since its initial unveil. We're looking at six sports in all: Disc Golf, Gladiator Duel, Beach Volleyball, Archery, Table Tennis, and Bocce. Each sub-game requires a quick calibration before beginning, whereby you stand in the appropriate spot (denoted by brackets overlaying the Eye's visual monitor) and hold the controller at shoulder level, down at your side, and then in front of your belt buckle -- or the general area where one might be. Even if you're using two motion controllers at once (more on that later), only the dominant hand is used for calibration. The process takes seconds, so despite doing it before every single game, it never really bothered us to have to repeat.
Table tennis was frustrating on the Wii given some of the liberties Nintendo's controller takes in 1:1 motion mapping, but here, a number of us on staff (including Show Producer
and Pong Aficionado™ Chad Mumm) found the system here much more accurate -- and less frustrating -- than our many experiences using the Wii remote. Not only does the paddle's angle look and feel pretty precise, but the Eye is used to detect which direction you're facing and adjusts your virtual character accordingly. Each game has three difficulty levels -- bronze, silver, and gold. Here, while it felt as if bronze would let you swing as obnoxiously as possible and still hit the ball in bounds, gold was far from forgiving. If you put a hard spin on the ball, it'd fly off the table. Unlike on Wii, however, we never felt as if it was an inaccurate and frustrating failure -- it was obvious to us that we had a bad swing.
Both Gladiator Duel and Archery give you the option to use two motion controllers, and if you bought a second one, we highly recommend using it. In the latter game, the off-handed controller is used to hold the bow, while the dominant hand grabs an arrow from the quiver, brings it up to the front of the bow, and then pulls back in preparation for firing, the combination of the two now used in conjunction for aiming. The entire motion is wholly fulfilling, and if you get tired, you can break with trying to feign reality by holding it at your side, something the in-game tips menu even suggests.
Gladiator Duel follows a similar suit -- shield in one hand, sword in the other. This isn't going to compare to the 1:1 lightsaber game of your dreams -- if you swing through and your in-game sword is blocked, the motion is deferred despite your arm flailing -- but your initial angle of attack is matched pretty well. Holding the trigger button on your shield will instigate your block, and it'll angle pretty appropriately with your own hand. Jumping will either get your character off the ground or, if already poised to attack, initiate an aerial attack. Enough damage and you'll be prompted to do a special attack that, if it connects, will enter your character into a cinematic quick-time event. What you don't get to control is your foot movement, quick dodges notwithstanding, as your character will always stay within blade's distance of the opponent. In our opinion, that could easily be made possible by allowing you to use the joystick-equipped Navigation Controller, but alas, the companion remote doesn't seem to be compatible with this or any other game in the bundle, bummer.
If we had to compare this to the similar motion-centric bundles being offered by the competition -- Wii Sports, Sports Resort,
and the still-in-development Kinect Sports
-- right now we'd rank this pretty high on the list. Every title felt like something worth multiple playthroughs, and we'll admit, the HD visuals did feel like a value-add. It's a pretty fun title for playing with you friends, and additionally, provides a pretty good showcase for Move's capabilities.
For this review, we had a chance to check out several other titles, to decidedly more mixed results.
- EyePet has come a long way from when we first saw it back in July 2009, but in its more final form, the frustration definitely outweighed the cuteness. The actual process of creating your pet takes forever, and setting up your floor to appropriately play never feels quite right, or maybe it's that we're not used to interacting with an intangible, three-dimensional furry gremlin. Your Move controller isn't always used, but when it is, it turns into an augmented tool -- a hand-held heater, a milk bottle, a baseball mitt, etc.
- If you ever played Boom Blox on the Wii -- or even to some extent Jenga in real life -- then you've already got a feel for how Tumble plays. Stack blocks in a 3D space, make those blocks fall / collapse: it's a simple game that teaches you how to use the motion controller in a three-dimensional space. Fun, but nothing too crazy.
- R.U.S.E. is Ubisoft's upcoming World War II-based real-time strategy game, and one of the few games we had that was designed to use the Navigation Controller -- in this case, for screen movement and unit selection. The Move controller can also pan / tilt the screen and issue commands based on where you're pointing. The system is very intuitive and even has some crafty options for cycling through highlighted units based on their type. However, it doesn't quite best a keyboard-and-mouse combination for controlling larger groups of units -- blame it on the joystick, mostly. Despite that, it's still one of the better strategy games we've played on a console.
- Heavy Rain actually came out this past February, but it's now getting software-patched to work with Move controls. And we're not just talking about a few tweaks. Movement has been mapped to the navigation controller, and all prompts are now specific swings and orientations that feel contextually appropriate with the characters' actions. It took us until halfway through the tutorial section to get accustomed, but once we did, it was fun to just sit back and enjoy. We can't say it enhanced the experience in any way when compared to the old control scheme, but it certainly didn't lessen our enjoyment.