Wii Christmas Roundup

Sports, singing, board games, balls.

Version tested Wii

So here it is, merry Christmas, everybody's having fun. Except me, because I've been given yet another pile of pisspoor old tat for the Wii to plough through. Thanks, Santa, try not to catch your beard on the barbed wire I left up the chimney.

To be fair, not all of them are completely terrible. Monopoly looks nice, though obviously it is quite boring. Boogie Superstar will make your dreams come true, assuming you are nine and have ovaries. Celebrity Sports Showdown will also make your dreams come true, assuming you dream about playing badminton with Keith Urban.

But what's this? Why, it's a rotten videogame tie-in for a rubbish daytime TV show that looks like it took all of 20 minutes and two pounds to develop. And look here! It's a collection of board game conversions that's ultimately so pointless it's driven me to the point of existential crisis. Ho ho ho!

Celebrity Sports Showdown

A Wii roundup just wouldn't be a Wii roundup without a mediocre mini-game compilation to go through. This month's comes from EA and is titled Celebrity Sports Showdown.

"Celebrity" is a bit strong, especially if you're not American. Paul Pierce, anyone? How about Kristi Yamaguchi? Do we have any Mia Hamm fans out there? (Basketball player, ice skater and female "soccer" player, if you really care). Mediocrity Sports Showdown would be entirely more apt. The better-known characters include Avril Lavigne, Nelly Furtado, Leann Rimes and Fergie. I could not give a toss about any of these people or anything they have ever done.

1

Look, everyone! It's Keith Urban, surrounded by mountains of snow! He just loves that powder!

There are 12 mini-games to choose from and they're pretty varied. Highlights include Inner Tubing, where you steer your character on a rubber ring by holding the remote sideways. There are points to collect, ramps to jump off and mines to avoid. The steering is slightly over-sensitive, but that adds to the sense of knockabout fun.

Air Racers uses a similar mechanic but you're piloting planes through twisty canyons, flying through rings to get boosts and pick up weapons. Again, it's simple but enjoyable. Hurdle Derby is a rip-off of the cow racing game which is the best thing in Wii Play. Joust Battle is a rip-off of the Duel event in Gladiators, where your Wii remote becomes a virtual pugil stick. Rapid-fire Archery pretends to be about accuracy but is really about speed, and is therefore more entertaining than most Wii games which revolve around shooting things. Slalom Showdown is a basic but fun skiing game.

Beach Volleyball, Wild-Water Canoeing, Smash Badminton and Arena Dodgeball are self-explanatory. None of them is anything special, but all are competent. Curling is the lowlight of the compilation. It goes on for far too long, and is based around curling.

There are no real duds, and EA has grasped the fundamentals of making a decent mini-game compilation. None of the games require a nunchuk to play, or must be unlocked in single-player before you can access them. Gameplay instructions are clear and concise. There's a good range of options for competing individually and in teams, and for customising your own tournaments.

In addition, the controls for each game are cleverly designed to provide two levels of gameplay. Novice gamers who just want to wave a remote about and only worry about one button can do so. Those who want more of a challenge can use the extra controls to do stuff like slamming opponents off the track, building up the boost meter and use power-ups.

It's just a shame the presentation is so rubbish. The characters are horrible to look at and the environments are ugly. At least the games are quite good fun, in a limited sort of way, and the selection isn't bad. If you've exhausted Wii Sports and Wii Play and have a strange affection for mini-game compilations, in the same way that some people get sexual gratification from watching people drive cars, you could do worse.

6/10

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