With DECA Sports, you bring a mix of sports that will be familiar to Wii users, and some that haven’t appeared on the console yet. What are you doing to differentiate between existing products and DECA sports? More specifically, can you elaborate on some of the motions and techniques players will be using to play DECA sports?
Mike Pepe of Hudson Entertainment: As you said, we’re bringing some sports to consoles for the first time; that’s part of what we’re doing to differentiate Deca Sports. We found 10 sports that we thought would mesh together well in a sports compilation. Of these, five are Summer Olympic events, three are Winter Olympic events, and two are X-Games-type Events. Each person who plays the game has a different favorite sport inside and we’re very happy to see this. There really is something for everyone inside Deca Sports.
The controls in Deca Sports are great: tilt the Wii Remote left or right to steer in Kart Racing and Supercross, over hand spikes in Volleyball and Badminton are the same motion you’d do in the actual sport, pulling back the Wii Remote draws your bow in archery, and so on. These are all really fun in the single player modes but doing these against someone else in multiplayer shows what the game is all about.
What is your approach in terms of art direction and graphics? What were your inspirations in terms of designing the characters and environments?
Mike Pepe: Well, as you can see, we went with a Mii-ish style to the characters and graphics. At the time of development we were not able to use Miis in the game and we wanted to come as close as possible to this experience. The courses and courts you play on all feature environments that can be affected by the players in the game. An example of this is Beach Volleyball courts that start out pristine but after a full game are riddled with indentations from people diving or balls dropping.
In terms of strategic depth in each of the sports featured, how do you plan to accommodate both the casual user and players with more experience in both videogame and real life sports?
Mike Pepe: As I said earlier, the basic controls feel just right for each sport. They’re easy for a first-time player to pick up and figure out. For the hardcore folks out there, we also included advanced controls to take events to the next level. Each sport has a way to dominate: power spikes and smashes in volleyball and badminton, slam dunks in basketball, and bicycle kicks in soccer, for example. Deca Challenge, one of the single player modes, really lets you practice these advanced controls as you try to break the high score for each sport.
Could you elaborate on the depth of the Tournament and Deca League modes? How much playtime do you envision players getting out of these modes? How are the tournaments structured?
Mike Pepe: Sure. You’re first time through each sport will take some time as you get your fill of the different mechanics involved from each event in Open Match. Once ready for a Tournament, players can pick between three different difficulty levels to take on the 7 other teams in a bracket competition. For gamers, the beginner and intermediate tournaments should be passable. Once at the advanced difficulty level players usually find themselves scratching for every point or second against the other teams. Usually resulting in several tries to even get to the final match. Beginners can count on hours to get through just one tournament. Advanced gamers might be able to get through a tournament in an hour if they have their game down for the particular sport.
In Deca League, you play against all of the other teams in all 10 sports in a decathlon competition. You actually have to pick your team very strategically: do you want the team that’s full of speedsters (which is great for racing events), do you want the really tall, powerful team (great for power sports like Basketball and Volleyball), or do you want a more balanced team? On top of this your players in Deca League have stamina meters. Use someone on your team repeatedly and their stamina will fall and affect his or her performance in sports until you rest him or her. The ideal is to bench players who are not proficient in certain sports and let them rest. Team management is essential as an unbalanced team might excel out of the gate in a competition but soon fail if half the players are winded and not being used to their potential.
Deca League will chew up more time as you go through brackets for each of the 10 sports. Throw in the fact that you’re managing your team and their stamina through the process and you have something that will take an afternoon to get through if you are on your game.
How much stats will be tracked in the Locker Room, and will user-specific stats be recorded?
Mike Pepe: The Locker Room tracks a few different things. You can see how many tournaments you’ve won, how many times you’ve won the Deca League, and you can see your records for each sport’s Deca Challenge. Deca Challenge is the single player mode within Deca Sports that not only trains people in the advanced moves for each sport but also allows individual records to be set. This is the part of the Locker Room that gets the most attention in our office; we’re constantly topping one another’s Deca Challenge records. We even have wrestling championship belts that we pass around for the guy with the highest score in the individual sport.
The game features 10 sports in all, is there a preferred sport for the development team, or a specific sport that you think your fans might enjoy more than others?
Well, what sport you enjoy most really depends on your personal preferences. At the office, we get really into badminton and curling. Believe it or not, there’s a lot of strategy to curling, and it’s very addictive!
There are some offbeat sports included (Curling and Figure Skating specifically) in DECA sports, what steps have you taken to ensure that a broad section of gamers can have fun with these, even if they are not necessarily familiar with the sport?
Mike Pepe: We have tutorials in which players can learn the controls for each sport, so it’s not going to be hard for them to jump in. They’re easy to learn, and once you actually start playing a sport, you “get it”. For example, you may never have played curling, and even if you haven’t seen it in the Olympics, you understand that you’re essentially throwing a giant stone at a bull’s eye, sounds fun huh? For figure skating, you have a path you’re supposed to follow in order to get the highest score you can, so it’s not like you’re wandering all over the ice doing random spins and leaps.
Honestly, once you play figure skating, you’ll be hooked and embarrassed to admit it to your friends. I sure am. If you want to find out more and see if figure skating really is for you, come over to our site at decasports.com.
We want to thank Mike for his time and our readers can look forward to a full preview of Deca Sports Wii shortly.