Motion-based sports games have been big hits in the past, with the original Wii Sports being a major system seller for Nintendo and Kinect Sports being a hit for Microsoft. On Sony’s side of the court, the PlayStation Move originally launched with the compilation title Sports Champions back in 2010. Now, 2 years later, developer Zindagi Games is having a second go at playing sports with the Move, and the results are quite solid.
Sports Champions 2 contains six unique sports to play: bowling, boxing, archery, skiing, golf, and tennis. There are three modes to play each game in, with those being Cup Play, Free Play, and Party Play. Free Play is, as its name suggests, a straightforward way of playing any of the sports both solo and with a friend. Party Play is a multiplayer-focused mode with a bit of randomness attached to it, as various sets of minigames are chosen at random for players to try and beat each other at.
It’s Cup Play that offers the real meat of the game, at least as far as the single player component goes. Three tournaments (bronze, silver, and gold) are available for each sport, offering a mix of traditional competitive matches against an AI-controlled player, as well as some interesting minigames to spice things up a bit. These range from trying to knock down single-filed lines of bowling pins to knocking your tennis ball through rings hovering over the net a la Mario Tennis.
These variations are combined with a steadily increasing difficulty level, as well as in-game rating systems where you can be rewarded with up to three stars per round. Obtaining a certain amount of stars unlocks more items for the character creator, including clothing, equipment, and hairstyles. The creator definitely brings to mind the trademark Mii system Nintendo used in its sports games, but the art style here is much more defined and realistic, albeit with a slightly stylized edge. There’s a good amount of stuff there, and the enticing promise of more is a fun reason to continue going through Cup Play.
Individually, the sports vary in quality. Bowling works well, with players motioning their throws by holding and releasing buttons on the Move. Skiing is fairly simple but functional, with the player racing through snowy hills by holding the Move to their side like a pole and tilting it in the direction they want to turn, as well as jumping off ramps and properly aligning landings for an extra speed boost. Golf has many of the features you’d expect in a traditional golf game such as clubs of varying power to pick between, and the game does a good job of properly tracking the strength of your swing. Tennis gives players full control over the direction of their racket swing, as well as some control over their character’s movement and the ability to charge up power shots by holding the racket behind their back for a moment.
Archery and Boxing, while functional, require two separate Move controllers for the full experience. Archery plays fine with a solo controller, but Boxing feels very lacking in that mode. Being used to the similarly-structured Wii Sports style of boxing, it was hard to wrap my head around the single controller scheme, which has you hold the controller and physically punch with your dominant hand while pushing buttons on the move at the same time to throw differently angled punches with your other hand. Those who want to play boxing the most when they purchase the game should really consider purchasing an extra Move controller as well.
The other major complaint is the lack of online play. This would be a great way to give people whose friends and family aren’t gamers a way to still play socially, and considering that the competing Kinect Sports series has this feature, its omission definitely hurts. Thankfully, there’s not much else to really gripe about as far as both the gameplay and graphics go. The individual games are generally solid, and the presentation is slick and efficient.
Sports Champions 2 may be a bit late to the party, but it does its job well. For PS3 owners who never got around to purchasing a Wii, this is a very good equivalent. It’s a fun party game for those interested, and even more hardcore players will find something to like in the form of the meaty Cup Mode. This is definitely one of the better uses of the Move, and those who enjoy this type of game should look into it.
This review is based on a Ps3 copy of the game that was provided to us.
Sports Champions 2 is definitely one of the better uses of the Move, and those who enjoy this type of game should look into it.