Sports Champions Reader Review
Here’s a rule of thumb for maintaining your hardcore video gaming credentials: never invest in anything that your grandmother could beat you at. Like, for example, the Nintendo Wii, scourge of the hardcore gaming elite.
My own grandmother passed away several years ago but, as the Wii’s raison d’être seems to be in allowing old people to experience the joys of ten pin bowling without having to replace their slippers for lace-up petri dishes, I think even she has a good chance of beating me at the Wii’s most hardcore multiplayer experience: Jedward’s Pejorative Party.
I’ve so far avoided the Wii, despite the occasional flashes of gaming brilliance, because I know I’d inevitably end up having to buy reams of shovel-ware for houseguests who can’t work a controller with more than one button. Strangely, none of my dinner guests have ever shown much delight at watching me watch Metal Gear Solid 4, but it seems a solution could be at hand with the Playstation Move.
The Move promises to satiate the hardcore gamers’ unfulfilled desire to stand in their living room and move around like a complete prick. It also promises a more acceptable face for motion based gaming peripherals, something that seems at odds with the physical appearance of its controller: a black cone with a glowing orb at the end that, basically, looks like Robocop’s todge.
However, the controller is just the means to experience the next level of gaming right? Well, yes - unless you’re talking about Microsoft’s Kinect, which seems more like a videogame version of Brian DePalma’s The Fury. Maybe that’s why Peter Molyneux cancelled Milo? He probably came home to find the angelic little fucker floating on the ceiling, before trying to push him out of the window.
Largely pointless digressions aside, the Move’s claims to offer something a little more hardcore than the Wii means the inevitable sports compendium - Sports Champions - offers an eyebrow-raising array of lesser-known events. Alongside volleyball, archery and table tennis, you have disc golf, bocce and a gladiator type thing, which is kind of like Soul Calibur as retold by The Arsehole Theatre Group. In fact the only obscure sport they appear to have missed out is Peter Duncan’s Wood-beast challenge.
Despite the slightly random sports on offer, what they’ve included is a pretty good selection, offering solid and satisfying mechanics, with the added bonus of feeling like they’re games you can master. Well, as much as getting better at virtual ‘bocce’ could be considered a bonus. But if there’s anyone out there whose life goals include “beating a racial stereotype at ping pong” then get that marker pen ready, you’re about to tick some boxes.
Among the parade of wankers that make up the “Champions” is a black man, whose interests run from hip hop to dancing, a Brazilian woman (Giselle, natch) who does capoeira and shakes her booty, an oriental chap who likes swords and electrical goods, a cowboy who likes oil and sleeping with his sister and a Scotsman, who’d play his deep-fried bagpipes if only he could stop concentrating on not spending money.
And speaking of Connor, you’ll notice that he bears more than a passing resemblance to the world’s most dangerous (alleged) chicken and lager fanatic: Raoul Moat, which adds some credibility to The Star’s (mysteriously deleted) GTA Rothbury ’story’. Though since 'Armed robbery' didn’t make the final line-up, it’s safe to say that we shouldn’t be reading ‘Moat: Enjoying Disc Golf From Beyond The Grave’ on the front page of the red tops anytime soon.
Minor fictional controversies aside, with Sports Champions the Move ably demonstrates that the nuts of bolts of ‘hardcore’ motion control are more than fit for purpose. Now all it needs is for someone to find a weightier use for Robocop’s wanger than just hurling virtual frisbees. That’s for someone with far more vision than me. In the meantime it means my dinner party guests no longer have to fear two-hour soliloquies on the nature of war after their dessert. And that’s something like a win-win.