My friend at The Game Factory was nice enough to send me preview copies of one of their latest titles, World Championship Games: A Track and Field Event
. The game is a competitive sports simulator for the DS, and Game Factory bills it as “the most realistic athletics simulation available on handheld consoles.” I’ve been playing around with it for a couple weeks and I’ve come back with some mixed impressions.
First of all, the game is definitely a quality package. You get a variety of Olympic-type events—track, throwing, and marksmanship—to be played on multiple difficulty levels and under several different conditions. You can choose to play a single quick event or go through a complete championship that runs you through all of the events. The visual style of the game is more realistic than you typically get on the DS, and the focus is on customization. You can change the gender, build and nationality of your competitor and choose the country where they are to perform. These options aren’t much more than cosmetic but it does lend a lot to the game’s international atmosphere.
I really liked the game’s presentation but getting into the actual gameplay has been a little frustrating so far. A few of the events, namely the shooting and archery ones, are very easy to pick up and understand, and the simpler track events are pretty intuitive as well. The more complex events are more difficult, not by virtue of their challenging nature but by the inscrutable controls and instructions. I still haven’t figured out how to control the throwing events like the discus and shot-put, and my competitor always ends up staggering off the mound and right into a foul. The vaulting track events are hard because you must time your steps by tapping precise points on the touch screen while watching the top screen and vaulting over obstacles with shoulder button presses. Keeping my eyes on both screens simultaneously proved impossible, especially with both screens requiring accurate timing. The directions for each event are completely textual, with a few accompanying screencaps that do little to help you understand what to do. It doesn’t help that all of the events, even on the easiest difficulty setting, are rather unforgiving.
World Championship Games comes out next month but I’m kind of split on how I feel about it. The game has a lot of graphical polish and potential, but for now the controls and tutorials make the meat of the game hard to access.