Picture: Nintendo Life

Soapbox options allow our particular person writers and contributors to voice their opinions on scorching matters and random stuff they have been chewing over. At the moment, on its 15-year anniversary, Jim pleads the case for a forgotten Wii traditional…


If there’s one factor that you can at all times depend on the Wii to realize, it was family-friendly multiplayer. Gone have been the times of explaining to an aged relative what numerous triggers and button mixtures did, as a substitute it was a case of swapping out your grandma’s sherry with a plastic white rectangle, standing her in entrance of the display watching her beat seven shades of hoo-ha out of an animated opponent within the boxing ring.

The console’s simplicity was its largest promoting level, and boy-oh-boy did it have the video games to match. For probably the most half, first-party titles like Wii Sports activities, Wii Play, Wii Music, and WarioWare Easy Strikes, are at all times going to dominate these conversations, and rightly so – they have been, and nonetheless are, unimaginable enjoyable. That is certainly not going to be a chunk saying, “hmm, truly, Wii Sports activities wasn’t all that,” as a result of that might be a straight-up lie — do not ever be that particular person. There may be, nonetheless, one title that’s virtually by no means included in discussions of family-friendly Wii titles, particularly within the sports activities style: EA Playground.

it was all about good-natured enjoyable along with your dead-eyed, ever-staring avatar buddies

Let’s begin proper off the bat by saying that I don’t consider that Playground was essentially higher than Wii Sports activities. The playable avatars had chilly lifeless eyes, the movement controls have been a bit janky, and the single-player mode was all about amassing stickers or marbles or no matter else a board of 40-something-year-old males thought was a hip forex with the children on the time.

However what I do consider is that this title has been effectively and actually slept on for the previous 15 years, and it’s about time that any person put that proper.

The Wii had sufficient video games within the sports activities style to fill its reminiscence banks 3 times over. Apart from the ports of NBA Dwell, Fifa, Virtua Tennis, and Tiger Woods’ PGA Tour (which at all times felt very a lot misplaced on the console), the sports activities collections — your Wii Sports activities Resorts, Mario Sports activities Mixes — have been the place the movement controls might actually shine. These have been titles the place the entire concept was to throw a bunch of sports activities collectively, protected within the information that, whereas some can be higher than others, that was okay since you might at all times transfer on to one thing completely different.

For EA Playground, although, the sport assortment had no weak hyperlinks. Certain, it’s tough to truly name any of the sport modes ‘sports activities’ in the identical method that we’d boxing or baseball, however have been they aggressive and difficult? If you happen to might have seen the sweat that I produced enjoying this recreation in my youth, there can be little doubt in your thoughts.

Playground’s important recreation contained seven completely different ‘sports activities’ – sure, that’s proper seven – starting from the uber athletic (Wallball, Dodgeball, a bizarre volleyball-football hybrid referred to as Kicks) to the kind of video games that solely belong on, effectively, the playground (paper aeroplane and RC racing). With it, this vary introduced a sure low-stakes attraction that couldn’t be present in different sports activities collections. You weren’t enjoying in an enormous baseball stadium or towards a workforce of dragons and mushrooms, it was all about good-natured enjoyable along with your dead-eyed, ever-staring avatar buddies.

Whereas Wii Sports activities was all about bringing the fun of the large recreation to Nintendo’s latest console, Playground was one for the little man.

To the sport’s credit score, every of Playground’s sports activities felt distinct regardless of successfully reusing the identical controls again and again. What are the controls for Dodgeball? Nicely, you progress with the d-pad then swing the distant to throw the ball. What about Kicks? Nicely, you progress with the d-pad then swing the distant to kick the ball. Tetherball? This one’s a bit completely different: there is not any motion so neglect in regards to the d-pad, simply swing the distant to hit the ball. However these weren’t the identical recreation again and again. There have been completely different methods that you just needed to study to make use of for every which amounted to the sport requiring some semblance of talent and observe. Don’t count on to deliver your similar d-pad shifting, remote-swinging play from Dodgeball over to Wallball. These AI youngsters will eat you alive.

Every mode’s distinctiveness was helped alongside its method by a collection of game-specific music tracks to distinguish between the comfort of, say, Paper Racers and the extraordinary battlefield of Dart Shootout – a foam dart FPS that was by no means something to do with Nerf™. Whereas there isn’t any a part of the soundtrack which comes near the breezy mastery of Wii Sports activities – offering a few of my favorite gaming tunes of all time – it helped Playground really feel such as you weren’t doing the identical factor again and again.

Besides, in fact, you have been. This recreation had unbelievable replayability. Think about how personally attacked you felt every time Wii Sports activities’ Matt beat you in Tennis, now deliver that to a narrative mode and you’ll think about how intensely the rivalry ran. Sure, there was a wierd quantity of the single-player ‘marketing campaign’ which concerned amassing stickers to enhance your athletic efficiency (seemingly, this main college let doping slide), however offering a rival in every sport meant that you just weren’t simply going up towards a CPU. It was private.

Merely put, the opinions for Playground on the time have been mixed, to say the least. They’d enhance ever so barely for the sport’s DS launch, however finally the title was thrown by the wayside. And why? As a result of it was not Wii Sports activities.

However simply because a recreation just isn’t one other recreation, is that purpose sufficient to neglect it? It’s true, EA Playground just isn’t Wii Sports activities – the avatars have legs for one factor – however neither is it essentially attempting to be. Whereas Wii Sports activities was all about bringing the fun of the large recreation to Nintendo’s latest console, Playground was one for the little man, courtesy of that little indie label, Digital Arts.

Sure, it could not attain the heights of a few of the console’s different releases, nevertheless it effectively deserves the correct to be held up and remembered alongside them.

Bought any fond reminiscences of EA Playground? Assumed it was shovelware and by no means gave it an opportunity? Tell us under.



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