Version tested: PlayStation 2
Look, you're probably about as enthusiastic about reading a review of yet another mini-game title for the EyeToy as I am writing it. But read on. As an incentive for sitting through, Eurogamer will be providing free coffee and Jaffa Cakes for all its readers at the end. You can't say fairer than that.
Sports is the traditional title amongst the triumvirate of recently released EyeToy games braying for our attention. It's Play 4 in all but name, the sports moniker providing a tenuous theme to justify over a hundred quick-fire mini-games which require nothing but the well-established peripheral in order to get your kicks (and waves, naturally).
As such, it asks only one question for your maximum enjoyment: would you laugh more than once if you saw your digitised face attached to a pair of comedy cartoon legs? If the answer's yes, you poor thing, then the EyeToy novelty probably still hasn't worn thin for you. Mark my words, you'll be in your element in a game with a visual style that looks like it's been culled from a CD of generic clip art.
But even if you have grown bored of the concept, Sports still at least tries something to pull you back in. To its advantage there's more of an emphasis on team-based play this time. Eight players can play at once, with a maximum of four on-screen at any one time. Once you've selected a mode to participate in, the game will randomly select the type of competition that dictates the next game. So, for instance, you can have two or three players versus one, everybody against each other, or even solo attempts.
It might be slightly overdoing it to describe all of the actual mini-games involved. Suffice to say, you'll be jogging wildly in Horseracing and the 100m Backstroke, jumping energetically with a partner in Leap Frog, or pretend-tugging hard at a rope in Tug of War while the rival player tries to escape its pull. There are even a few visual-based games, in which you have to select the correct answer to a maths question, or air-tap on the order that different coloured cars cross the finishing line. In short, it's a comprehensive package, and while it could be argued that there are only so many ways you can move your body in each mini-game, it offers a variety perhaps lacking in previous Play titles.
Of course, while Sports caters for singles, with a couple of game modes exclusively addressing such a thing, it's all too easy to get bored on your own, and your mileage with this one will vary depending on the amount of people you can cajole into joining in, blah, blah, plenty of alcohol, blah, blah, party atmosphere, blah. Sorry, yes, you've heard it all before. You'll have more fun and laughs playing with others no matter how I mark it. And that low-ish mark you've probably zoomed straight to before reading this doesn't just take that into account.
Instead it incorporates such things as the length of time it takes to load a game up. Now, call me an ungrateful curmudgeon who's never had it so good ever since we stopped having to press rewind every time we fancied a game of Monty Mole, but for a game with pretensions of Wario Ware freneticism, it sure does take its time. Before you even get in, there's a short animation for your characters, there's a screen telling you the name of the game, there's one telling you to get in position, there's one telling you what to do, and there's one telling you your goal, before you finally get to play the game proper. And even when you're busy organising players there's still a short wait. And, yes, you can partly skip it by pushing Start on the pad, but that's another kind of slight inconvenience altogether for a game that shouldn't even require you to reach for it.
(Incidentally, you can't actually pause the game mid-way through a round using the pad. It seems you can't have it both ways.)
On top of that, there's also no option to select mini-games individually. You can't improve on a game with a high score, you just have to take them as they come. I'd certainly have liked a few more goes on some of the better games like Row Your Boat, in which you have to steer yourself down the rapids by waving your arms left and right. But after thirty seconds or less of doing so, you're left in the lurch until it comes around randomly again. The desire to play the fun bits is negated by the game's - admittedly well-meaning - desire to keep things fresh.
Indeed, you'll probably gather from that bout of nitpicking that Sports has dried out a little too much for our liking. It's one more on the pile of EyeToy mini-game packages for people who've probably got at least one mini-game title already. And while it's substantial and probably the best one so far in terms of things to do, the law of diminishing returns means it's starting to look a bit Mario Party.
Okay, thanks for getting through that. If you'd like to claim your free coffee and Jaffa Cake, write to the usual address. Please allow twenty-eight days for delivery. Sorry, milk and sugar not provided. This is coming out of my fee.
5 / 10