101 in 1 Sports
101 in 1 Sports Party Megamix is the latest outing of developer Nordcurrent, and yet another mini-game compilation to add to the Wii’s already bulging library. Each of the game’s 101 levels features a different ‘sport’. It’s a nice idea, one the company seem to have done quite well with on the DS, but 101 Sports on the Wii has some serious catching up to do if it’s to make it’s voice heard on the Wii mini-game scene.
The game controls all follow the same patterns: some requiring a Nunchuk but some needing only a single button. Most of the games are simple ‘press the right button at the right time’ affairs, many including some kind of Wii motion control. All of these simple control options make a lot of sense, simplifying game controls so that more people are likely to play, but all have been badly placed into the games, and none feel natural, at worst making games downright unplayable. Frequently, implausible reaction times are expected of the player, and it is often the case that randomly pressing buttons is a better option than watching for the right one. On other occasions, the Wii motion controls are so insensitive that getting your chosen character to do the correct thing is a difficult task.
101 Sports is built like so many others of its genre: it works best in multiplayer. However, although most of the games do include multiplayer support there are too many that do not. Even though it would have been just as simple to make these games turn-based, with players taking it in turns, the game instead restricts these games to the single player ‘Career’ mode, limiting the player’s choice dramatically. In many ways, single player is not just recommended but enforced. New players may be disappointed to find only seven of the 101 sports ready to play out of the box, the remaining majority requiring completion in single-player modes to unlock. Though this stretches out the game time and allows the players to become more familiar with each game, forcing them to sit down on their own with a game so clearly designed around multiplayer and painstakingly unlock each tedious sport, one after another, is unforgivable. Once all 101 sports have been acquired, it would surprise me greatly if the player would want anything to do with the game.
This is not to say that the game is without some very limited charm. If you create 101 games for someone to play, there’s a strong chance that they will enjoy at least one of them, and 101 Sports is no exception. Ironically, one of the first games in your inventory, the sumo wrestling, is surprisingly good fun in multiplayer and provides a very short spurt of entertainingly competitive action. But each and every game has some kind of fatal flaw; some setback which just makes it not fun to play. In the sumo game, for example, players can sometimes be caught in infinite loops where another player will spawn right above them, knocking them off the edge of the arena continually until the game ends. In the sack race game, the characters end up so far from the camera by the end that you honestly cannot tell what buttons to push, and it becomes a game of chance. Not a single game is spared and not a single game is honestly worth recommending.
101 Sports is a hopeless party game, close to being utterly unenjoyable. In such a competitive genre, and with Kinect and Move making much headway, the Wii seriously needs some better contenders or it will surely end up in last place.