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We Are The (Sports) Champions

This Move minigame collection is a good place to start.

The game will have a cast of characters that seem to appear in multiple events. 
The game will have a cast of characters that seem to appear in multiple events. 
When Nintendo introduced the Wii, it tossed a copy of Wii Sports into every box. The collection of sports-themed minigames is a huge hit, and still one of the best things going on the platform. Part of what makes it so perfect is that it lets you explore a range of different activities and motions with the Wii Remote. It gave players a crash course in how to properly use the controls, which helps down the line, when playing more complicated stuff. Sony's sports-themed minigame collection, which currently has a working title of Sports Champions, feels like it could fill the same space in the PlayStation Move library.

Or maybe I just feel that way because it has table tennis and archery, two events that also appear in Wii Sports Resort. It'll also have events like bocce, disc golf, and a sword-and-shield-style gladiator battle game. Here at GDC 2010, Sony's only showing off table tennis and the gladiator combat game. They both do an excellent job of letting you know what the PlayStation Move is all about. The games themselves also give a good first impression.

Table tennis is the most immediately familiar of the two I played. The Move controller feels very accurate, and--much like Wii Sports Resort--it's easy to put spin on the ball by tilting the controller in different ways. It was also very easy to keep the ball on the table, as the game was running with its highest level of assistance enabled. As you progress through the game and face tougher opponents, the game will stop fudging as many of the angles and stop swinging things in your favor. Moving the paddle and transitioning from forehand to backhand feels very natural, and the Move controller seems good at translating your faster, harder motions onto the table with stronger swings.

The battle game gives Sports Champions' different characters weapons and shields. This one will be playable with one Move controller, but it seems to be better suited for two, as you'll have a weapon in one hand and a shield in the other. Again, the movement works about how you'd expect, and it's easy to properly position the shield to block incoming strikes. If you thrust your shield arm at the screen, you'll thrust forward for a shield bash, which will briefly stun your opponent if it lands. The basic idea is to swing your weapon around the opponent's shield to do damage, and the faster you swing, the harder your strike. You can swing upward to launch an opponent into the air, setting him or her up for juggle attacks or a vicious jumping attack, which is done by lifting both arms into the air.

None of it felt especially complex, but then, that's sort of the point, right? After quick training sessions, both of the available games started to feel like second nature. While it'll be hard for Sports Champions to shake comparisons to Nintendo's Wii Sports franchise, Sony's game feels like it's totally capable on the technical side, and it could be a great deal of fun when it's released later this year.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+