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by Mike Schiller

18 Apr 2008

Tomorrow’s the 17-month birthday of the Wii and, in turn, Wii Sports!  Should we bake a cake?

At this point, over 18 million people have plugged in their new little white box and taken their little brightly-colored no-armed sphere-handed people for a test drive in the five arenas offered by Wii Sports, and by most accounts, its popularity remains rampant.  To date, no collection of minigames has been received nearly as well by both the critical community and the general public, and though its presence is quieter now than it was a year ago (we haven’t seen it on any late-night talk shows recently), its impact looms large over the release of any collection of minigames, particularly sports-related ones, that dare to stake a claim to its legion of fans.

This is motocross, which is fun, but…

This is motocross, which is fun, but…

The latest group of developers to attempt to stake a claim to the Wii Sports constituency is over at Hudson, where they’re putting something together called Deca Sports.

Hudson was nice enough to send a preview of Deca Sports with four of the ten games playable.  Regrettably, they did not include the curling (because, hey, who doesn’t love curling?), but we did get to try out beach volleyball, figure skating, motocross, and badminton.

For the most part, Hudson is sticking to the formula that made Wii Sports so popular, in that playing the games is generally a piece of cake.  Of the four games included in the demo, three are played using only the Wiimote, with the only exception being figure skating.  Figure skating is probably the most difficult of the games for the non-gamer to master, simply because it requires agile manipulation of the thumbstick on the nunchuck, combined with flicks of the Wiimote to perform jumps, which isn’t hard in theory, but comes off a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time.  Badminton and volleyball follow the Wii Tennis formula of not actually moving your players to the ball/birdie; you just hit it the way you want when you have a clear shot at it.  Finally, there’s motocross, which was actually really fun, mostly because it’s like playing Excitebike in rudimentary 3D.  Think Wii Play‘s cow racing with more hills and less cows and you’re most of the way to Deca Sports’ motocross.

...this is what I\'m waiting for.

...this is what I\‘m waiting for.

Playing these games with family and friends around is fun, but a couple of things are off when the inevitable comparisons start happening.  For one, the mechanics of the “hit the thing over the net” games seem a little off, because now you can wave the remote in the direction that you want things to go, which makes the games an awful lot less twitchy than they could be.  This is actually to their disadvantage, as the primary audience for these games is simply going to want to pick them up and play them the way they could when they first unpacked their Wii.  Depth of gameplay should not come from more advanced game mechanics, it should be found in difficulty scaling based on some very, very simple mechanics.  The lack of Mii integration is also unfortunate, as is the lack of online multiplayer, though limitations on these things have come to be expected of Nintendo, which seems to dole out its technology on a case-by-case basis.

What we also didn’t get a sense of was the way in which these games were going to be packaged and supplemented.  What are the single-player modes like?  Are they going to give out medals or implement some sort of achievement system for high scores?  Are there going to be fun little training games?  All of these things were an important part of Wii Sports’ success, and without some incentive to play beyond picking up a couple of controllers and competing with buddies, these kinds of games can get old, and fast.

What do you think?  Can any minigame compilation ever truly live up to Wii Sports?  I don’t think so, as it’s a perfect case of right-place-right-time combined with some of the most well-implemented waggle yet seen on the Wii, even a year and a half after its release.  Maybe you think differently—give us the what-for in the comments.  We like that sort of thing.

by Jason Gross

18 Apr 2008

Maybe you shouldn’t be amazed that the 2nd biggest Net provider in the U.S. ain’t necessarily nice people.  Even forgetting their crappy service record, Comcast is also fighting and biting about the issue of Net neutrality where they see fit to block any big P2P traffic that they don’t like as chronicled in an AP article and this Channel Web article.  In the former article, they admit to hiring ‘seat warmers’ at their public meetings where they usually get lambasted so that they have some friendly folks to applaud their efforts.  The later article notes CC’s ‘bill of rights,’ which is seen as a red herring to distract from their poor record of such.  Is Karl Rove consulting these guys are what…?

Just be glad that you’re not an indie band getting cut out of MySpace’s deal with the major labels for ad revenue sharing.  In an interview with Wired magazine, the MS folks admit that unless a band is hitched up with an aggregate service like The Orchard, IODA, Merlin and CD Baby, they’re cut out of any potential ad money.  But… note this quote at the end where they say that the aggregations are “all possible candidates for signing equity deals with MySpace Music.”  Note the word ‘possible.’  That means that if you’re an indie band and you sign up with one of these services, they MIGHT be able to cut a deal with MS, or they might not.  You sign up with them and then gamble and hope that things will work out peachy with MS.  Quite a racket, eh?

 

by Terry Sawyer

18 Apr 2008

This is really just an excuse to play a track from Estelle’s sophomore album, Shine, one of the year’s best pop soul records. Shine is as infectious as my worn through copy of Lauren Hill’s debut, before she picked up a guitar and decided to join the ranks of the tortured and sermonizing. It’s not the ideal track to pick (for that see the Cee-Lo collab “Pretty Please”), especially since Kanye’s flow consistently deflates his musical surroundings and his “moon/June” rhymes are fairly low hanging fruit. Actually that’s an overstatement, Kanye’s rhymes are, more often than not, of the “moon/moon” variety. As a video, it lacks coherent art direction and narrative, especially in the split-screen montages of various typical American boys, all of whom look like they’re doing ads for the Gap’s new edgy urban Ivy-leaguer line. Sure, black and white is always carries a certain entry-level morsel of cool cache, but for this song it’s cold and comparatively drab. The only part that captures some of this song’s buoyant Summer energy comes from the disconnected dance play between Estelle and her shadow, which provides sexy liquid movement in a video with static pictures of men backdropped with the kind of white void you’d expect from a near death experience. She’s too vibrant to be framed by such McArty deserted space that could just as easily sell a parka, a cheeseburger or Windsong perfume. And, if you can get John Legend in the video, why not have him pick up Kanye’s half of the duet.  Just saying.

by PopMatters Staff

18 Apr 2008

Kate Walsh
Documentary [Video]

A short documentary of Kate talking about her songwriting and the album Tim’s House, over a two-week tour of the US.

Architecture in Helsinki
Like It or Not (El Guincho Remix) [MP3]
     

Like It or Not [Video]

Okay
My [MP3] (from Huggable Dust releasing 20 May)
     

Compass [MP3]
     

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
Think I Wanna Die [Video]

Video for the first single “Think I Wanna Die” off of the new SSLYBY album Pershing, released 8 April on Polyvinyl.

Big Boi feat. Andre 3000 and Raekwon
Royal Flush [Streaming]

The CoCo B’s
Give Up The Money (1982) [MP3]

The Futureheads
Radio Heart [Video]

by PopMatters Staff

18 Apr 2008

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
A book of poetry by Philip Larkin. I’m a latecomer to his work, and I don’t usually do this, but a combination of his awesomeness and a hangover made me cry. On the train. Everyone thought I was weird.

2. The fictional character most like you?
Hmm, maybe Sal Paradise from On the Road. That’s what I’d like to think anyways. A recordist for the madmen of this world.

3. The greatest album, ever?
Almost impossible question. Possibly Springsteen’s Nebraska.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars, but no way the new episodes.

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