(PlayStation 3)

Sports Champions (PlayStation 3)

Game Review

Sports Champions Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Will it make you want to Move?

When Sony announced it was developing a motion controller for PlayStation 3, it certainly didn't shock anyone to see a collection of motion-controlled sports games to go along with it. While comparisons to Nintendo's Wii Remote and Wii Sports Resort are inevitable, it might be a bit more fair to compare it to the original Wii Sports. While there are some good activities that do a nice job of showing off the Move's motion control capabilities, the package comes off feeling a bit light on content for a full-blown retail release.

If there's one event that stands out from the pack in Sports Champions it's the Archery. Not only does the Move controller provide just the level of accuracy and response you need for this type of activity, the presentation and variations are top notch as well. Not only is there timed competitions where you can earn points, there are also moving targets and hindrances that will try to block your arrows. As a solo experience it's quite fun, but if you want some intense competition, round up a few players to go at it in one of the speed rounds. The game will even allow you the option of using two Move controllers to add even more realism to the experience if you have a spare handy. If you're looking to show off the precision of the Move controller, this is the event you want to play.

Disc Golf is another event that's designed quite well, offering plenty of fun as a solo or multiplayer experience. There's really only one 18-hole course, but it's broken down into sections that range from heavy forest to solid ice that makes things a bit slippery. Tossing the disc is quite intuitive using the Move controller: you control how hard you throw the disc and can even curve your shots by tossing the disc at an angle. You'll soon find this handy when you reach holes on the course that bend and curve around and place the goal out of reach of a straight throw. Much like the Archery, this is another fun activity for times when you want a solo experience, although the AI can be a bit too easy to beat on the regular settings and somewhat cheap on a higher difficulty setting.

Beach Volleyball is one of those sports that's tough to replicate in a video game for some reason. While the actual moves themselves are easily performed using the Move controller, the game itself handles your character's location on the court. You will get to control the direction of a dig or what side your character will spike or serve to, but for the most part you'll be going through the motions of putting your hands up or bumping to set up your spiker. As a solo experience, it's fun and challenging going through the various Cup tournaments, but you won't really get into the action until you bring in some additional players. That's when the action really heats up and feels a bit more authentic. You'll even be tossed a few challenges from time to time that will let you serve at targets to earn points. It's a small touch, but a nice diversion from the main game.

Gladiator Duel proves to be a much shallower experience than you'd expect from an event of this type. This is yet another event where can choose to use one or two Move controllers, with two controllers once again offering up a more intuitive and realistic experience. That being said, one controller still works adequately once you get used to using a button for your shield. While there is a bit of strategy involved, most of the fighting is basically swinging away at your opponent and hoping to land a few blows in between their flailing around. If you can find an opponent that's a bit more skilled it can make for a much more intense fight rather than going at it with someone who's just wildly swinging their controller. The game will allow you to use a special move or power attack from time to time, but it ultimately doesn't add a whole lot to a fighting event that quickly turns repetitive once you've experienced all it has to offer.

Bocce Ball will probably be the one game in the package that many people will not have heard of, or at least not be familiar with how to play. Basically it consists of you tossing a small ball, called a Pallino, out onto a court and then trying to roll your four larger balls closer to it than your opponent. You'll even be able to earn additional points for every ball you manage to get closer than any of your opponent's balls. It might seem rather shallow at first, but once you learn how to put spin on your balls, not to mention knock your opponent's balls away from the Pallino, you'll soon see how strategic and fun it can be. The motion controls are extremely simple and put most of the emphasis on how hard you toss the ball forward and twisting your wrists to impart spin on the throws. This is definitely a game you'll get far more out of with at least one other player as playing the CPU can get a bit tedious after a short time.

Table Tennis is a game that tends to transfer to the video game world fairly realistically. You can control the forehand and backhand, but you'll also be able to impart spin in much the same way as you would in real life by coming up over the ball for topspin or coming down on the backside of the ball for backspin. The game will even allow you to step forward to move in on short balls or step backwards to reach lobs. While the competition starts off fairly tame, you'll find the AI opponents in later cups downright nasty in terms of intensity and skill level. As with most other events, you'll find the game far more fun taking on human opponents and you'll also likely get a bit more variety that way as well. Just remember not to stand too closely to the other players unless you're looking for a black eye.

Even with only six activities to tackle in the game, the developers have still managed to add some depth and incentive to the experience by including unlockable characters and mini games to keep you coming back for more, and there's a wealth of trophies to unlock too. Couple these extras with a very smooth and responsive play control system and you've got a package that not only does a nice job of showing off the Move's capabilities, but also offer a fun gaming experience that should appeal to a very wide range of people.

It's tough to tell what the developers were going for when they put the visual presentation of the game together. Some parts of the game show an impressive level of detail and polish whereas others look like they were tossed together quickly with little detail and even less shading or lighting effects. What makes this stand out even more are the fairly detailed characters that inhabit the areas. In truth, it's not a big deal considering the type of game, but a little more spit and polish might have paid off in the finished product given the game's realistic look.

The music and sound effects are a lot like the visuals in the way they seem to be hit and miss. There are some fantastic orchestral musical tracks in the game, but at times they feel like they should be playing out in an RPG rather than a sports package. There are also a lot of times when no music is playing at all, which can make it easier to concentrate but gives the game a rather bland feeling. The players don't do much in the way of voicing any dialogue, but you'll certainly get plenty of groans and grunts as you take on the various challenges.


Sports Champions does a nice job of showing off the capabilities of Sony's new Move controller, but with only six sporting events to tackle, you might feel a bit short-changed. Granted it's included with the Starter Pack in North America, but in territories where it's a separate retail release it's undeniably limited. Some events are obviously more enjoyable and playable than others, but if you can manage to round up some friends and want to show off that new Move controller, Sports Champions should do the job, at least as long as you can keep your expectations in check.

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User Comments (25)



JamieO said:

I have only had the chance to play the two Sports Champions demos for Table Tennis and Disc Golf, but I came away impressed by the way camera recognised the 1:1 motion tracking when I was tilting the wand, for different throwing angles and shots.

The Archery event sounds like the most fun to me, although I am disappointed that Gladiator Duel turned out be shallow. I am not particularly sold on the visual style for this game, however from reading this I imagine that the fun greatly improves if your mate has Move controllers, too. Great review @Corbie. :)



Nintenzo said:

I love playing actual bocce. It's quite a fun sport to learn.
I'm not sure how the one on the PS3 will be.

This whole game says "Wii Sports" to me...



Dazza said:

Nice Movemodo debut Corbinator! :-p

I've only tried out the demo for the time being, but I really liked Disc Golf. It felt very responsive, perhaps more so than Wii Sports Resort.

Table Tennis is really good too, the Move's impressive one-to-one movement really shines here. I found this quite difficult to master however, because it was so realistic.



motang said:

This whole game says "Wii Sports" to me...

It doesn't say it, it screams it! :)



Slapshot said:

One thing Corbie to add to it is that with this and many ps3 games, you have the ability to play your own custom soundtracks. Very rarely do I not turn on my own tunes when i can.

Also Sports Champions plays with a much more realistic/ simulation style of gameplay compared to Wii Sports/ Resorts arcade pick up and play approach. Its worth owning all 3, as SC has a much different feel than the Wii games.



pasmith said:

Personally, I found Gladiator Duel to be a heck of a lot of fun, and it gets pretty challenging climbing the Silver ladder. I haven't got to the Gold yet. The Challenge mode is pretty lame though. I should add that I was using 2 Move Controllers, which means I could dodge left-right or jump back. I'm not sure if that's in the single controller game.

When you get a good hit and break off a chunk of the opponent's shield, that's a good feeling. :)

For me, Volleyball was the weak spot. It felt more like Volleyball Drills than really playing.

I'm pretty impressed with the Move. It does this "Wii-ish" stuff better than a Wii, and I like that games like RUSE are supporting it to give an almost PC interface to games.



Slapshot said:

"The Wii has created a stigma within hardcore gaming circles that motion control are a gimmick without depth. Sports Champions disproves that point."

Another reviewer had this to say about the game and I find it to be very correct. For me SC was mind blowing with the dept of the controls. So many people have talked about accuracy, accuracy, accuracy but its the depth and range of motion and not motions signaling a button press that takes this game to new heights.

For me one is worthy of very high praise!



Corbs said:

I'd have to disagree with that statement. Motion controls are a gimmick, whether they be on a Wii or a PS3. The Move controller is very precise and fun to use, but it wasn't that much better and didn't offer that much more depth than that of the Wii Remote and Wii Motion Plus. This package was also nowhere nearly as content rich or fun to play as Wii Sports Resorts, something I found a bit surprising considering this is a $40 retail release technically. :)



Doc said:

I love this Game and my Move controller. I have played Wii sport with its odd shapped lego/webble wobble people and cartoon like look. I find that the PS Move is more percise and has a more technical aspect to it. I think the real test of this will be in the hands of games like, RE 5, MAG, SoCom and Heavy Rain. All which have move support.



PatrickElliot said:

Well reviewed Corbie! This gives a great run-down of each game. I really loved Disc Golf, and actually play the real thing quite a bit with my friends (we call it Frolf). SC captures all the strategic angling and frustrating over-shots common in the real game, and the 1-1 Move controls are great for setting up shots. I also found the Gladiator Duels to be more fun if you face off against a friend. The CPU can be a bit easy. If only it had online matches!



Slapshot said:

@Corbie.... hmmm I just dont see it at all. Not trying to disagree with you as I hardly ever do, but to me it feels completely different than with Wii. I love Sports/Resort and they have been the center of get togethers in my home many times over, but with Sports Championship in particular to me it adds a whole new depth to the motion control spectrum.

Gladiator Duels on SC compared to on Wii is literally night and day. On Wii is usaully ends up with very sore arms from who can waggle the fastest to knock eachother off the podium, wich by the way is hysterical good times to be had, compared to having weigth of the sword and sheild factored into the mix and great precision in aiming shots and timing counters. Granted as SuperPowerBros stated it is much better with an actual friend and then the game become fantastic.

Have to Respectfully disagree with you on this on Corbie ;)



Corbs said:

Nothing wrong at all with having a differing opinion. I tried to be thorough in going over the various events in the game and not constantly compare them to Wii Sports Resort, but when I began writing it up, I couldn't help but feel the game fell below what I had been expecting. I love the Move controller and I can't wait to see what developers do with it in the coming months, however. :)



Wesker said:

Thanks for the review Corbie. Next to the Gamespot one I think it's the most informative on the net.

Edit: I got it, Excellant game!



SuperMarioFan96 said:

Awesome review Corbie! I was actually expecting a bit higher of a score, but based on what I've seen (I haven't actually played it, though), the game just doesn't have the...... color? Excitement? Fun-factor? of WSR. I don't know exactly what word I was looking for, but you get the point. Also, WSR has more games in it. But if I actually had a PS3 and Move, I would still probably get this.

Also, never heard of Bocce Ball? What's wrong with all you people?! :D



Stuffgamer1 said:

@SuperMarioFan96: Perhaps the word you're looking for is "charm." That's the word I use to describe what Sports Champions lacks compared to Wii Sports/Resort, anyway. And I'm not saying that's necessarily a BAD thing...just different.

I think this game has plenty of content for a high-powered precision-controlled HD game priced at only $40. As many modes as WSR had, there really weren't all that many I actually wanted to play much of at all. I think this balance looks better.

Note that I don't actually have a Move or this game yet...no money for it ATM. I'm just going off of what I've read and seen in videos, basically.



WolfRamHeart said:

Wow, I wasn't expecting you to be the one reviewing this game Corbie! Fitting considering that you were the one who also reviewed Wii Sports Resort. Great review by the way! I still have yet to experience this game myself. I have been really looking forward to getting this since I purchased my Move controller. I guess that I will just have to try out the demo for this game on the PSN Store.



pasmith said:

FWIW, I 'm still finding Sports Champions much more entertaining than Wii Sports Resort, but then "fun" is always going to be a matter of personal opinion. I'm not generally a fan of the Nintendo theme of bright colors and a happy, peppy world, so the slightly more 'serious' tone of Sports Champions, and the controls that work far more consistently, at least in my house, than the Wii's do, make it a better game for me.

But then I didn't find this site coming from Nintendo Life, which I see is who developed MoveModo, so probably I come at the games with a different mindset than many here. My Wii is thick with dust from disuse. There's very little on that platform that interests me. I have a friend at work who's a very enthusiastic Nintendo supporter and he and I frequently disagree about which games are really good and which are just ok. I think it's a bit of a mindset difference; we're looking for different things from our games.

Anyway, one small example of why I'm loving Move and Sports Champions: last night I was playing Bocce Ball and we were playing on the wooden dock. I noticed the CPU opponents, since the wood was so 'fast' a surface, were almost rolling the balls out there rather than throwing them. I was wishing I could do the same and it took me a couple of rounds to just try it. By bending my knees and lowering my arms, I could roll the balls too. Because the Move camera tracks actual position of the Controller, not just relative position. It's a subtle difference, but one I really appreciate.



cheapogamer4life said:

Not sure of I should go ahead and grab a PS3 bundle for this game(depending on the 3DS release date of course) or what until this holiday season for a better PS3 move bundle.



Slapshot said:

@cheapo... I doubt in the US you will see anything but SC in it, but I could be wrong on this one.

@SMF.... WSR has tons of caracter to it. Its slammed full of that Nintendo charm that Only Nintendo can pull off. Sports Championships is aimed at a different audience. Its for more of a older fanbase and after putting about 15+ hrs or so in it, some of it really isnt pick up and play at all. Ping Pong for one can be downright hard as nails at times.



SwerdMurd said:

Played it. Loved it. While 6 sports does feel limited, they're so much more fun than most of the Sports Resort offerings as individual games that this has me even closer to buying the starter pack. Played for a few hours last night--had a blast.



KAPADO said:

this came with my Move starter pack, and volleyball,archery and table tennis are my 2 favorite modes. Volleyball,Archery & Gladiator Duel are 100 times more fun with 2 move controllers. its a crime to play those 3 modes with only one move.



metal_basher said:

I expected this title to be rubbish, I was shocked to find it is actually really good fun. I`ve played each mode in depth (apart from Beach Ball) and it`s keeping me hooked. Archery is fantastic and I`m expecting it to get better once I get a second controller!



sacababe said:

this game is a solid "7" for reasons in the above review (lack of depth, no online). If there was online play this game would jump to and 8.5 rating. Most games are done well. Gladiator duel is alot of fun as I play w/ others. If I had to play it alone, I would not go back to it so much. I've found ping pong to be very engaging..I'm beyond the Gold Level now and it continues to please. The 1:1 is amazing.

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