Sports Party

Like Big Beach Sports, Sports Party is a variation on Wii Sports, with just a few more activities and a summer holiday ambience. It's known as Summer Sports: Paradise Island in America, and action takes place on this island to the tune of relaxing and bland music.

Players create a profile, which is used to keep track of your "accolades", which are awarded for achieving certain goals in each game. However there are no custom characters to create: each time you play you can choose one of ten characters to represent you. This is just one aspect that makes the interface annoying and unnecessarily complex. Instead of choosing a player and a game and getting on with things, there are a lot of options to select and there's too much pointless dragging and dropping on poorly-explained setup screens.

Progress is measured entirely through accolades, of which there are just 30 to collect. That's not to say that these are easy to collect, but it seems bizarre that there are no high score tables or other ways of measuring progress.

There are nine games, although three of these are versions of basketball. Badminton, horse shoes, croquet, lawn darts, volleyball and mini-golf are the others. In terms of activity these games are mild, with more emphasis on precision than exertion. For the basketball games you hold the controller upside-down, but aside from that most games are simple to pick up since they use very similar controls to games like Wii Sports. On the one hand this makes Sports Party more accessible, but on the other it's uninspiring since there's little that's really new about it.

The one thing that is new turns out to be a bit of a missed opportunity. In theory in most of the sports you can distract your opponents with taunts by pressing the directional buttons. This seems like an excellent excuse for some entertaining dialogue between the players, but these taunts only amount to distracting noises. What's more, they don't come into play at all if you're a single player taking on the CPU. Surely if you have friends round to play, you can taunt them just as well yourself?

Gameplay could be improved with a more forgiving "easy" level and better explanations of how to perform the actions. It's quite difficult to beat even the easiest opponents and win those first accolades, and that initial difficulty doesn't exactly encourage further gameplay. For many players this is the kind of game that will be abandoned before it's mastered. The main problem is there's often no apparent connection between the speed of your movement and the distance you send, say, the ball. There's not enough explanation of the way gameplay is supposed to work, because it certainly doesn't much resemble real life sports.

Overall Sports Party consists of an attractively presented selection of low-impact games. But the fussy set-up, frustrating controls and a lack of anything really novel make this a disappointing sports game.