Celebrity Sports Showdown Wii
Published by: EA Sports Freestyle
Developed by: EA Sports Freestyle
Release Date: Out Now
The Wii has become the console of the mini-game collection with a seemingly never ending supply of them attempting to generate the mass appeal of the original mini-game compilation on the console, Wii Sports. Next up is Celebrity Sports Showdown. The game offers twelve mini-games and a collection of celebrity characters to play as and against. As with mini-game collections what we are mainly concerned with is the quality of the mini-games on offer and whether they will hold your attention after the novelty value has worn off. In this respect Celebrity Sports Showdown is a real mixed bag.
Before we look at the mini-games on offer, let's look at the celebrities that have been included in the game. I'm not the best person to comment on celebrities if the truth be told. Most of the time I'm either playing games or tapping away on my keyboard writing about them. Personally I think the celebrities on offer here seem a little strange. There's Fergie, Sugar Ray Leonard, Kristi Yamaguchi, Paul Pierce, Keith Urban and Avril Lavigne amongst others. For the most part the celebrities seem to be aimed at the American public with most of the personalities here being American and drawn from the world of music or American sports. The choice of the celebrities on offer might be questionable if it were not for the fact that they might as well be bog-standard Mii characters. The characters might have a vague resemblance to the celebrities but they have no personality.
So the celebrity personalities don't add anything to the experience then but you can also play as one of the Wannabe characters if you wish and it's the games that really matter. There are twelve games on offer in Celebrity Sports Showdown and in terms of quality they are a real mix. The games include: Beach Volleyball, Inner Tubing, Wild Water Canoeing, Hurdle Derby, Slalom Showdown, Cliff Hangers, Smash Badminton, Curling, Rapid Fire Archery, Joust Duel, Air Racers and Arena Dodgeball. Some of the mini-games are actually quite enjoyable. None of the games are difficult to play which I found to be a positive (and a necessity if you're going to get friends and family members playing). Take Hurdle Derby for instance. You hold the Wii remote sideways and move it up and down to make your horse move faster. To jump you press the 2 button. In Slalom Showdown you hold the remote in its natural position and move it from side to side to steer. Pressing the B button allows the rider to tuck to make increase speed and to jump you simply flick remote upwards. All of this is pretty intuitive even if it's not particularly challenging. There are a few stinkers though. Personally I didn't like the Beach Volleyball as it's one of the few games that just didn't feel right.
The mini-games on offer here are on a par with those found in Wii Play. Of course Wii Play sells really well because you're only paying a few pound more than the price of a Wii remote and the game comes with a Wii remote making it a great way of buying an additional remote for new Wii console owners. The game has two modes: Free Play and Tourney Play. Free Play allows you to practice any game of your choice whilst Tourney Play allows you to either play a Solo Tourney or a Tourney Party with friends. Playing the game against the AI isn't really recommended as it soon becomes rather tiresome. Played with friends or family it's quite a different matter entirely and it's a game that can be a good laugh at times. That said, there are some disappointments. There's no online play so if you don't have a friend to two to play with you're stuck with the AI. The celebrities have no personality. They don't make any comments and have no special abilities or such like.
From a presentation perspective the game is simply OK. Graphically the game is on a par with other mini-game collections that are on the Wii which is to say don't expect anything that will impress you. As we've just mentioned the celebrities don't speak and there's no speech in the game at all. All of the instructions are in text and tutorial messages are shown for each event and describe how to play the mini-games in an efficient manner. Feedback during the mini-games is given visually through the use of words and numbers etc. In fact there are no problems at all for deaf gamers.
When played with friends Celebrity Sports Showdown can actually be quite fun. The problem is of course when you're not playing with friends. As a single-player title it's a rather dull affair and without the ability to play the game online, it's a game you're likely to put on one side until your friends come around. I suppose you could say Celebrity Sports Showdown is what's known as a stocking-filler, the kind of present that's never asked for but appreciated when the opportunity is there to play the game with friends and family. Priced at £19.99 it's a game that's not expensive but as we've already stressed on more than one occasion it's only a game that will satisfy as long as you're going to have human companions to play with. As a single-player experience it just doesn't feel worthwhile.