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Sports Champions (PlayStation 3) artwork

Sports Champions (PlayStation 3) review


"Itís a title made up of little-known yet completely enthralling games that were put together extremely well, their mechanics scrutinized and the focused placed almost entirely on gameplay. If it were to be judged simply as a game, Sports Champions would rank incredibly highÖ"



The title of Sports Champions is somewhat misleading. Rather than entering a world of favorites like football, basketball, hockey or even soccer, Championsí lineup consists mostly of games you would only see late at night on ESPN The Ocho. Highlighting games such as Disc Golf (Frisbee golf otherwise known as Frolf), Table Tennis, Archery and Beach Volleyball, theyíve also included one less-known sport called Bocce (donít worry if you have no idea what that is; I didnít either) and a non-existent game called Gladiator Duel.

Granted, doing this is risky. Whoís honestly going to say A game about Bocce?! Awesome! One copy of Sports Champions, please? One guy in Idaho probably, and heís eighty years old and doesnít have a Playstation. Most people will see that and pass on it completely.

Donít.

Banking solely on obscurity is a gamble, yes, but itís one that entirely pays off. We have games about football and basketball. The market is over saturated with them. We donít have Archery. We donít have Frolf. We donít have Beach VoÖwell, okay there is that one, but not done this well. This is new. Fun. By picking games that have never been showcased, Sports Champions can keep it casual and entertaining. They donít have to try and re-create the sport or try to add a new element to keep it fresh. Itís like that on its own.

And by doing so, they donít gum it up with silly ideas or ridiculous additions. Theyíve focused solely on the mechanics of each sport, and made it entertaining by keeping it straightforward. Thereís relatively no story mode in Sports Champions, aside from three different difficulty levels in the form of Champion Cups--bronze, silver and gold--and a roster of 10 playable characters (more to be unlocked later) each with their own short bio, so itís easy to get right into the action, learning the games and eventually challenging the other players in each Cup.

Most of the games are to-the-point, and strictly for an entertainment value. Table Tennis is virtually an intense, power swinging match of ping-pong and Disc Golf is the idea of hurling a Frisbee across an open plane or body of water to its intended target. Even Bocce--as complicated as it sounds--is a game of simplicity. The first player starts by throwing a small ball known as a Pallino onto a rectangular grass field. After that the second player rolls a much larger ball--a Bocce--as close to the Pallino as possible. From there, the opposition rolls. If they get closer the control switches back. If not, they have four more attempts to close the gap. If they fail to do so, the player with the least amount of space gets a point for each Bocce they have thatís closer than the opponents. It takes precision and control, but simple to learn and easy to follow--even in an inebriated state. Thatís always a bonus, right?

Gladiator Duel is even less complicated but even more involved. The best way I can describe it is by referring to it as a battle with plastic Light Sabers--meaning it looks intimidating and violent, but no real harm comes from it. Two players take the field adorned in body armor, wielding massive hammers or glinting blades in one hand, a shield in the other. From there, itís utter chaos, each swinging trying to hit the otherís head or legs, blocking blows with their shield or leaping back to safety. You have the option of either completely depleting your opponentís HP or knocking them out of the ring. Though it sounds brutal, thereís no blood or wounds present. Iím pretty sure theyíre playing with foam weapons. Regardless, itís crazy entertaining and adds an element of variety to the roster.

A game that adds variety to the rounds is Archery.

Archery? Thatís just shooting an arrow at a target, isnít it True Baby?

Not so, loyal Truep. While the first round begins that way itís not to last. Archery is perhaps the most ingenious and varied of all the sports. Bullseye targets pop out of the ground and float side to side to provide a challenge. Bags of money are hurled through the air and innocent fruit sits atop a pedestal waiting to be driven through. One battle returns you to the stationary bullseye, but at random another target will pop up and the first person to hit it will put up a barricade in front of their opponentís range. Another level is made up of a squared grid with nine sections. Hitting one will shift it to either an X or an O, depending on the player, turning it into a fast-paced, steady aim required game of tic-tac-toe. I wonít spoil anymore (though I will say Zombies), Archery was without question the most entertaining game in Sports Champions, but know thatís not said with ease.

Itís a title made up of little-known yet completely enthralling games that were put together extremely well, their mechanics scrutinized and the focused placed almost entirely on gameplay. If it were to be judged simply as a game, Sports Champions would rank incredibly highÖ

But letís be honest, shall we? As one of the first official games released with the Move means this review isnít only about Sports Champions, but the hardware as well. Perhaps even a comparison to the more popular motion-gaming franchise.

So how good, really, is the Move?

It is everything loyal Sony fans have been waiting for. Quite possibly, even beyond it.

Move plays off of the Playstation Eye, as opposed to a motion sensor bar. This means, in simple terms, an entirely new range of movement. Archery requires that you reach behind you to pull out an arrow, then put the controller straight forward. The Move captures every path your arm creates from beginning to end--even when youíre pointed straight up in the air or directly to the ground. If the camera can see the detection bulb (that funny little colored thing at the top of the controller) the game registers it. Even if you happen to go out of the massive range, it picks up the controller the moment itís back into view. Many a times in Gladiator Duel, often in a panic, I swung my arm well out of typical range and the game didnít miss a beat. Such only spurred me on and my nervous, unflinching act of pointing directly at the screen--fearful of a hiccup that may cost me a match--was a thing of the past. I spun and whipped my arms like the Tazmanian Devil riding a jackhammer. I jabbed forward for a Shield Bash and the Eye caught it--something even my Wii canít do.

Move has three axis sensors, as opposed to two, meaning itís even more accurate in how it registers the angle of the controller. A fact I learned the hard way when I whipped my arm forward--failing to realize that I turned my wrist at the end--and I saw my perfect game of Frolf go down the drain--my Frisbee sailing over the port by over two feet. I cursed my Move; then praised it and lavished it with comments.

Sports Champions also allows the use of two controllers for several games like Archery, Volleyball and Duel but since they communicate via bluetooth, thereís no annoying cord between them. When I hold my left arm out to aim my bow, then reach back with my right to draw I donít strangle myself in a frenzy to hit the target. Nor do I have to worry about how long my arms are, or take it easy. When Iím keeping my left arm down by my feet to block a sword, I can freely yank back and swing with my right without fear of ripping out a cord--only my shoulder from its socket.

You want to know how the Move stacks up to Wii? The Move is freedom. Itís no longer a tight-knit box that we players must adhere to avoid the annoying warning screen that weíre out of range. Itís a full body, arms flailing, completely involved and enthralled experience that sapped every bit of energy I had, but was without question the most entertained Iíve ever been. Sports Champions was the perfect game to showcase everything the Move has to offer.

Wii did it first; Sony did it right.

So if youíve questioned it up until now, give in. Buy into the hype. Itís worth every penny.

Rating: 10/10

True's avatar
Staff review by Greg Knoll (September 22, 2010)

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CoarseDragon posted September 24, 2010:

You are correct in this being a really good game(s). Really cool thing is if you have two Move devices you can use both for Archery.
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bloomer posted September 26, 2010:

As extension to my Rotw talk - this review has some loose writing.

1. There are a lot of floaty prepositions!

EG - 'By picking games that have never been showcased, Sports Champions can keep it casual and entertaining. They donít have to try and re-create the sport or try to add a new element to keep it fresh. Itís like that on its own.'

Ok so, 'SC can keep it casual.'

'They don't have to try and...' (who are they? the Sports Champions themselves?)

... to keep it fresh. (keep what fresh? They? Themselves? The Sports Champions? You see how the subject of this sentence keeps getting watered down more and more as it continues?)

'It's like that on its own' (Arrrrgh!)

2. There's some unnecessary qualification of stuff:

EG - 'Thereís relatively no story mode'

I'm guessing there is no story mode, period?

or, Table Tennis is virtually an intense, power swinging match of ping-pong

... which doesn't need 'virtually'.

etc.

So I think this needs proofreading.
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CoarseDragon posted September 27, 2010:

1. There are a lot of floaty prepositions!

EG - 'By picking games that have never been showcased, Sports Champions can keep it casual and entertaining. They donít have to try and re-create the sport or try to add a new element to keep it fresh. Itís like that on its own.'

Ok so, 'SC can keep it casual.'

'They don't have to try and...' (who are they? the Sports Champions themselves?)

... to keep it fresh. (keep what fresh? They? Themselves? The Sports Champions? You see how the subject of this sentence keeps getting watered down more and more as it continues?)

'It's like that on its own' (Arrrrgh!)


Would you think something like this would be better bloomer?

By picking games that have not been showcased before Sony Computer Entertainment America has been able to keep Sports Champions casual and entertaining. Sony does not even need to try to re-create the sports by adding any new elements to keep them fresh, they would be fresh on their own.
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bloomer posted September 29, 2010:

I would definitely think that was better than all of those 'its' and 'it's', CD.
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Masters posted September 29, 2010:

Although, that first rewritten sentence would need a comma...

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