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EA are slightly late to sports minigame antics on the Wii. Sports Island Wii, Beach Sports Wii and Carnival Games Wii have all done their best to combine Wii controls with simple sporting action. Taking a leaf or two out of these game's book, Celebrity Sports Showdown brings a touch of class to the genre, although without revolutionising the experience to any great extent.
Mini games come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What unites the genre is the speed with which players can pickup the games and the relatively short time required to complete a level or two.
Celebrity Sport Challenge brings a collection of nine mini games that have largely been seen elsewhere. The emphasis here though is on presentation rather than innovation. And as such this is one of the best looking games in the genre. Add to this the novelty inclusion of popular media characters (these days loosely grouped by the term celebrity) and the game easily establishes its own take on sporting mini games.
The games themselves certainly benefit from EA's experience with gesture controls. However, this is towards the triggered action end of the spectrum rather than anything more nuanced. This works better for the more exuberant activities than those requiring a deft touch. Badminton for instance, lacks the ability to perform a light tap over the net - something so successful in Sports Island Wii. Archery also comes in second best to Mario and Sonic at the Olympics Wii which had an excellent two handed implementation.
What it does do though is provide a great looking set of games that will appeal to the younger audience targeted by this Freestyle sub-brand. In light of this, it is a sensible move for Celebrity Sport Challenge to provide simple controls. Whereas other mini game titles often require the nun-chuck to be plugged in for some activities you can play through all nine events here using just the Wii-mote.
Players will undoubtedly be drawn to this game for the quick fun sports games and the celebrity gloss factor. There aren't many other Wii games where you can play beach volleyball with Avril Levine and Nelly Furtado.
Other than that there are still some proper gaming moments that shine. The jump spike mechanic of the beach volleyball is one of the better implementations we've seen. Also the sheer fun factor of the down hill skiing or rubber tube racing is hard to turn your nose up at.
Again as with other Freestyle causal games, Sports Showdown is a game that can be thrown on for a few minutes fun whenever the need takes you. The inclusion of a high score table for each event will motivate some family gamers to come back for more to try and beat Mum, Dad or sibling's scores.
Young players are ideally placed for this game. The combination of attractive graphics, simple Wii-mote gameplay should be more than enough to keep them happy. It is a little odd that the majority of the celebrities are likely to be people outside of young gamers field of awareness, but this is not a big problem for those not overly sensitive to well made up groomed roll models.
Intermediate players may well struggle to find enough value to justify even the GBP19.99 shelf price. They would probably be better served by the more in depth mini games of Mario and Sonic at the Olympics Wii. That said there is plenty to entertain when played in a group of mixed ages or family setting.
Experts are likely to balk at the overly simplistic and sometime arbitrary outcome of these games. They are much better served by the more grown up stylings of Wario Ware: Smooth Moves Wii.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: