EA Playground (Wii) Review

By Adam Riley 03.12.2007 2

EA has been praised quite a lot lately due to its strenuous efforts to bring varied content to Nintendo's Wii, rather than merely fudging its cross-platform games onto the system without any particular effort. Now the company is back with its take on the mini-game genre. But how does EA Playground shape up? With Wii already boasting a vast array of similar titles, including Nintendo's own WarioWare and Take-Two's Carnival, can it really prove to be worthy of your money?

Rather than go down the more serious route and attract an older audience, which probably would have been much more advantageous for EA when it comes to sales, if the game's current poor performance in the UK is anything to go by, the development team chose to emblazon everything with saccharine sweet, headache-inducing colours and bug-eyed children with scarily large smiles. Everything in the game is bright and breezy, ridiculously simple in appearance, yet all the while technically sound. Sadly, though, the characters are nowhere near as adorable as Mii creations, plus the little garbled words and nonsensical noises they mutter grate considerably after just a short time. In terms of background music, however, Playground offers a decent selection of short, looping tunes

Screenshot for EA Playground on Wii

As for those seven games, let us break them down for you, one-by-one. First up is Dodgeball, the game that is stamped proudly on the front of Playground's box. This has players running around a small pitch carrying one of the many balls present, with the aim being to pick one up and launch it at a member of the opposing team. A successful hit results in that member dropping out until the whole team is defeated. The most fun that can be had with this is, as previously stated, definitely during multiplayer, since the computer opponents are very easily overcome. With a few friends, though, ducking and weaving, dodging incoming shots, catching the thrown ball and rapidly firing it back can prove to be quite exhilarating. Tetherball is another game that screams 'crazy fun' when played against a friend. In fact, in this case even when played against the computer it can be quite hectic and enjoyable. The objective here is to smack a ball (attached to a rope) around a pole and past your opponent enough times to tie it up completely. A simple flick of the Wii controller serves the ball round and technically it can just keep going backwards and forwards between the two competitors. However, your timing is crucial and as the ball flies round the pole faster and faster, with its height continuously changing depending on how you hit it, the challenge seriously increases.

Screenshot for EA Playground on Wii

Another one that can get the heart pumping and pulse racing is Kicks, which is two-on-two Volleyball, except with a football. So, just like in Volleyball, one player sets up the other for a shot, dummying when necessary to fool the other team, and the wallops the ball over the tall net in hope of landing it in the opposing team's goal. The options available to each player when it comes to both the offensive and defensive duties help to make this a real laugh. Wall Ball plays rather like Squash, but sadly is nowhere near as entertaining, nor energetic as the real sport or other mini-game sports in Playground, for that matter, purely because you cannot control the movement of your player. So in the end it comes down to merely swiping every now-and-then until the opponent misses or you watch as your friend's arm falls off after an extended bout due to sheer exhaustion...!

Then there are the three 'other' games on offer; the ones that are quite different in style and pace, seemingly trying to attract a different sector to the title. Paper Racers is a tantalising look at how a potential Starfox game could play, rather like the paper aeroplane micro game in WarioWare: Smooth Moves. Players hold the Wii-remote in the same way a paper aeroplane would be held, then tilt left-to-right to move it around to avoid obstacles along the course, whilst if you dip the controller's end up or down the on-screen aeroplane responds accordingly. Technically it is a marvel to watch, but proves to be far too short-lived as the mode is simply not fleshed out like it should be.

Screenshot for EA Playground on Wii

Car Racing is another that proves to be very intriguing, but fails to be developed enough to prove sufficiently appealing in the long-term due to bland track layouts and poor computer AI that blatantly cheats to catch up on the final lap. Dart Shootout is yet another good concept, playing like a children's version of Time Crisis or House of the Dead, except with sugary-sweet kids firing soft darts at you, whilst you return fire as quickly as possible, reloading as necessary (by flicking the Wii-mote upwards). The conspiracy theorist inside wonders if EA is using Playground as a way to find out if any ideas could be developed and transplanted into full games in the future...Doubtful, but Dart Shootout and Paper Racers certainly have the potential to have their control mechanics used for future, well-rounded offerings! On the whole, Playground proves to be an interesting venture into the mini-game genre, serving up some very impressive multiplayer experiences. Sadly, though, the whole package is let down by underdeveloped computer AI and certain games that are lacking in content.

Screenshot for EA Playground on Wii

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Whilst EA has tried its best to grab the same audience that lapped up WarioWare, Playground fails to match Nintendo's genius and the sheer addictiveness found in that title's mini-games. However, this effort is definitely above par, so if you are looking for some Christmas fun and have already expended enough energy on previous games in this genre, then you could certainly do much worse than this solid product.

Developer

EA Canada

Publisher

EA

Genre

Adventure

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Sounds a LOT better than the DS outing. Nice one Adam.

It could have done with a lot more fluffing out on the single-player side, plus the addition of online play...but other than that, it's not too bad at all. Far better than I expected, anyway!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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