Likely the best known game on Nintendo's latest platform is Wii Sports, given it's the first thing most people played after unpacking the console and a good demonstration of the system's unique controls. We've seen a few other sports compilations released since that time, most of which have simply fallen fell short. I was recently given a preview build of Deca Sports, and it's certainly trying to change that perception.
The preview build came with four sports (out of a total of ten, hence the 'Deca' in the title), all of which seemed pretty varied from one another. I had a chance to play badminton, BMX dirt-biking, beach volleyball, and figure skating. Other sports in the package ranged from archery to basketball to curling. Personally, as a Canadian, I'm actually kind of interested in doing some digital curling. The sport is, shall we say, under-represented in video games.
Before partaking in each sport, you were given the option to choose a team, either based on power or skill (at least, the ones available to in the preview), and a player to compete with. Each of the players in the teams had a size indicator that seemed to dictate how well they handle in particular sports. After briefly checking the rules and the controls, it's off for a game of whatever you wish.
Each of the games has you use the Wii-mote to perform actions, whether it's swinging the badminton racket, make a volleyball smash, or perform a graceful pirouette (or miss, falling flat on your butt). The gestures are varied enough to make it interesting, but it was pretty easy to see the similarities between badminton and beach volleyball both in the controls and the rules of play. Regardless, the controls handled pretty well after a bit of adjusting, and I could adjust the difficulty to my liking if the computer seemed to be a little too good at what they were doing. The BMX rally comes to mind, as I was pushed around by everyone else quite a bit. A great biker I am not.
Each of the sports themselves had enough material to make them interesting; there was actually more complexity in the input than just blindly swinging or flipping the Wii-mote madly around. Badminton (and volleyball) had you waiting for the right moment to smash the birdie/ball to the other side of the net; motor-biking required balancing after flying off leaps, lest you slow down when you hit the ground; and figure skating required following a path set before you and timing your triple camel axels and such at the right time. It's certainly not a physics test, so it's pretty fun. The addition of multiplayer, up to four people in some sports, also makes it better.
The graphics are nothing that will stretch your Wii to its capacity, but then they don't need to be. There's a fair amount of variation between each of the characters, and the places where the sports take place look pretty good too. And no, you won't be playing as legless nor armless people in this particular casual sports title.
The end result of the game is purported to have, in addition to those sports detailed in this preview, go-karting, archery, basketball, snowboarding, soccer, and curling to round up the ten. It's a little hard to preview the package as a whole when essentially the 'package' here is actually ten smaller pieces with a couple unifying features. From what I can see, however, Deca Sports can be that casual game that people will be pulling out when some friends or family come over. With the nice variety of sports in the title, it can definitely offer more for those looking for a bit of a fun time.