Don’t call it a comeback…
Wii Sports was the best-selling game of this entire console generation. It’s no surprise that Sony tried to knock it off with Sports Champions when they released their Wiimote copycat, the PlayStation Move. And just like Wii Sports, Sport Champions as a pack-in (part of why they each sold well) with its respective hardware served as the best demonstration of the new controller technology.
But unlike Wii Sports, Sports Champions didn’t have what us red-blooded Americans call real sports.
No Baseball. No Golf. No Boxing. Instead, it had Disc Golf… and Bocce Ball. Embarrassing, I know. They were fun, though, and enjoyable enough for Sony and Zindagi Games to work during the off-season on a sequel. Plus, the PlayStation Move needs something that’ll save it.
Sports Champions 2 isn’t going to save the PlayStation Move, but if you do have one—or even better, two—then it’ll be one of the best motion-controlled sports game you’ll have the pleasure of taking a swing at. And it actually has real sports this time!
With merely one PlayStation Move controller, Bowling, Golf, and Tennis are extremely accurate representations of their real-life sport counterparts. You don’t need to do anything fancy—just swing, toss, or backhand that ball till it turns blue. As straightforward as it is, it does require a delicate touch and can become challenging in the Gold and Champion Cups.
Bronze and Silver Cups end up being more of a tutorial and provide ample time to hone skills. The same holds true for Skiing, Archery, and Boxing.
I never understood Skiing as a sport. Who the hell wants to freeze their asses off for exercise? So I’m totally cool (accidental pun) with getting to experience Skiing somewhat from within the confines of my warm home. With two Move controllers in-hand acting as ski poles, I scurried on the wet snow until I hit the top of the slope, then down I went. Rather than tilting your body to maneuver, you tilt, raise, or lower the Move controller to gain speed, turn, or hit sweet jumps. I had a lot of fun, and I didn’t need goggles, a snowsuit, or a mug of hot cocoa to warm my frozen face.
Archery was easily the best sport of the first title, and it’s back and better than before. Well, it’s mostly the same, though that’s not a bad thing. A smidge of variety has been added and the backdrop has more distractions, but that’s about it. The motion of pulling an arrow from your quill, pulling back on the string, aiming, and shooting is as lifelike as it is badass. I felt like Legolas, Link, and that chick from the Hunger Games, all in one much more manly package.
Still, not even Archery make me feel like a beastly, grunting man’s man like Boxing did. Here’s where the having two Move controllers makes a world of difference. Fighting with one Move controller is a sure-fire way to find yourself on the receiving end of a beating, as it removes the motion and forces wimpy button presses to act as your onslaught of punches. Both things will leave you feeling like a loser.
But grabbing a second Move controller felt more like actually strapping on some Boxing gloves, hitting play on Mama Said Knock You Out, and putting the whoop-ass on some poor S.O.B. I spent over an hour going through the Bronze and Silver Cups on Saturday night in Boxing. At the end of it, I was soaked in sweat, my adrenaline was pumping, my shoulders were sore—I felt like a champion. It was a hell of a workout, and it wasn’t easy.
As I moved on through each opponent, the game taught me more and more about how to move, how to block effectively, and which punch combinations I could use to soften up the competition. Things got serious after a while, and I got knocked the fuck out harder than Deebo on a Friday.
That says a lot about the challenge in Sports Champions 2, and it says even more about what a workout it can be. I dusted myself off, posed for some pictures using the PlayStation Eye while holding a pair of augmented reality dumbbells, and then I invited some friends to check out Party mode.
Rather than being all about sports, Sports Champions 2 takes the intense competition found in these six sports and turns them into a party game. Taking pointers from other party games, Sports Champions 2 puts you and up to three others (four total) against each other, tournament-style. Not only does the winner get bragging rights, and well, wins, they also can make a fool out of the losers by drawing hairy dongs on their face. In a family-friendly environment, a mustache and glasses may be more appropriate.
But hey, it’s all in good fun. That’s what Sports Champions 2 is about—fun, competition, and a little bit of fitness. If you’ve got two PlayStation Move controllers, Sports Champions 2 is a strike, a hole-in-one, a knock-out punch. But if you’ve got just one Move controller, you’ll find out just how lonely of a number it is.