The Olympics are near, and in come the slew of games trying to replicate the games that follow. Summer Athletics Tournament is one of these games, but with games such as the Mario & Sonic series to compete with, is it worth getting this game for some family fun over the summer?
Summer Athletics contains eight different sports with twenty different disciplines, which consist of Track & Field events, swimming, diving , archery, and fencing. These all use various Wii Remote motions to try and simulate the sports shown, although trying actual diving in the living room is advised against! There are four different modes: Single Discipline, which lets you select a team to do one event; Cup, which groups events together to win on points like a decathlon, for example; Career, which has you trying to set records and try to make your team become top athletes; and Multiplayer.
In Career Mode players select a team to train to become top athletes; this is done by setting certain records in independent events and getting training points. Each event has three different records for a gold, silver or bronze finish, and each will give a certain amount of training points. The training points are then used to improve the athletes to break even more records. The problem with this is that the game starts off with some events that can be pretty much impossible to do without building the athletes up, and the controls don’t help either.
For some events, the controls are fine, although some people won’t know what to do in some of them because there’s no tutorial mode, and the only instructions of what to do are in the menu options. The racing events are fairly simple to work out, with the player having to hold the Z button to get ready and letting go to start, and there is a small bit of lag between letting go of the Z button and actually starting -- but that shouldn’t affect the race too much. Then the Wii Remote must be shaken along with the Nunchuck to achieve victory, although in some races, such as 100m swimming, the athlete has a stamina bar to watch out for, which makes it a lot harder in Career Mode without training.
To do the training in Summer Challenge: Athletics Tournament all that has to be done is select the type and spend training points, if there are enough remaining, although the game does the training for you and adds stats to at least one of four different categories; Head, Arms, Body and Legs, which somewhat improve the disciplines that your athletes take. The problem is that sometimes getting these training points (TP) can be difficult, and once an event has been fully completed no more TP can be obtained from it, and there’s a maximum of six TP per event. Different teams do different events, and once you’ve got a medal in an event it will unlock the next two ahead, building a honeycomb of events to do, and you also can complete challenges as a sort of achievement system, just to add to the game.
In the other single player modes, players can choose a difficulty level ranging from Instant Fun! for the players who haven’t played, or find it difficult to play and too hard (and boy is it!). In Multiplayer Mode, each player can choose their own difficulty, which is supposed to help people who aren’t very good at the game have a better chance.
Graphics definitely aren’t the strong point in Summer Challenge: Athletics Tournament, with character models being indistinguishable and the title making a basic representation of the games; it’s no Mario & Sonic. Sound is pretty much as you’d expect in an athletics game, with the crowd cheering in the background and an unmemorable menu tune. The game itself can sometimes freeze while loading in the menu, although the background still cycles over, and the game itself doesn’t have any functionality even while saying “Press B to go back,” but this is only a minor problem that doesn’t occur often. The team names are pretty fun, there are either men or women to choose from, and each category is gender specific.
Does its job for some events, although others, such as swimming, can be too difficult, especially in Career Mode; this isn’t exactly a pick up and play game.
Does the basic job of representing each sport; nothing special in this department.
Yet again, not exactly anything special, but it does its job and the music isn’t particularly memorable.
If you can get it cheap, and you are a big on completing games entirely, then this could be something for you, since it has quite a few in-game achievements, although the difficulty of getting those achievements can be too much to bear.
Summer Challenge: Athletics Tournament isn’t a bad game, but there are better games on the market. Its gameplay can be somewhat difficult for beginners, although thankfully there’s an option to change the difficulty in most modes. The Career Mode, however, depending on which team you choose, can be too difficult due to the game’s mechanics. There are better games out there that do a great job of representing the Olympic-style games.