Almost two years after Wii Sports launched, Japanese game company Hudson released Deca Sports in 2008. The game was a collection of ten motion-controlled sports games. Now, it's 2010 and is launching Microsoft its own motion control system, Kinect.
And Hudson has a collection of remote-free mini-sports games for Kinect called Deca Sports Freedom. The first Deca Sports game sold big, but... it wasn't very good. It wasn't very good at all. Is Deca Sports Freedom going to be any better?
While checking out the game at E3 last week, I was impressed how the game looked. It's a cartooney as Deca Sports and has Xbox 360 Avatar support, so the game has a nice HD sheen. The E3 demo showed off tennis, archery and paintball.
Tennis was self-explanatory: You swing your hands as racket. This actually was my first chance to check out Kinect, and I could see the potential of the device. It wasn't as precise or as sensitive as I would have liked — meaning I felt I had to make a full swing. That could be a good thing as it did mean I had to exert a fair amount of energy to play the game, instead of sitting on my butt and flicking my wrist.
Archery has players mimic holding a bow and firing an arrow. The arm that would hold a bow is used to aim, and the other is used to shoot. It's instinctive, straightforward and out of the three games I checked out, it was my favourite of the three games.
Paintball was a bit tricky. Unlike Tennis and Archery, it wasn't entirely instinctive. There have been jokes about using one's finger as a gun in Kinect games — you do do that in this game. I kinda liked that! Using one's finger as a gun is natural, kids do it and it's a global gesture for a gun. So why not? To shoot, players flick their arm. What was less instinctive was how to move your character. There is a box in the bottom of the screen that shows where your feet are. To move forward, you must step forward so that your feet are at the front part of the box. To go right, you step right so that your feet are in the right section of the bottom. To go left, you step left so your feet are in the left portion of the box.
Interesting controls! And a valiant first effort. But I felt like I was doing the hokey pokey. Just moving my Avatar around felt challenging at first, and adding the paintball element was like walking and chewing gum. Or walking and playing paintball. Whichever.
Deca Sports Freedom did seem to free me up during play — only the tricky controls of Paintball caused stumbling blocks. Keen to check out the other sports.
Other sports? Deca Sports Freedom will be out later this year and will feature ten sports: tennis, archery, paintball, bowling, beach volleyball, dodgeball, kendo, figure skating, moguls and snowboarding.